Paint PHX Mural Event to Hit Roosevelt Row, Grand Avenue, and Calle 16

Categories: Events, Visual Art

Janessa Hilliard
Paint PHX, a citywide mural event, takes place this weekend. This wall, at Dulcería Pico Rico near 16th and Oak Streets, will be repainted by artist La Muñeca and crew.

From the Mini Stack to law offices to two-story suburbs miles outside metropolitan Maricopa County, the Valley is known for a sprawling façade of muted beige and brown, camouflaged in the desert. This weekend, a group of area artists plan to change that.

Dozens of creatives are banding together for a four-day paint-a-thon, each using their own materials to design large-scale murals on a number of Valley businesses. The event, Paint PHX, is the brainchild of Thomas "Breeze" Marcus, a Phoenix-based artist who fell in love with graffiti in the late 1990s.

See also: Roosevelt Row's Visioning Launch Party: What's Next for the Phoenix Arts District?

The citywide art show, which starts as early as 6 a.m. daily, will happen live from Thursday, March 6, through Sunday, March 9. Though the public is certainly encouraged to watch, the event was organized to allow muralists the opportunity to mass-create pieces in real time and with true collaboration.

Over the course of the last decade, street art has risen from a marker of territory and personal expression to a recognized art form, now housed in museums and even at times selling for hundreds of thousands of dollars. For Phoenix, the prominence has grown in the last three to five years, with walls transformed into public murals: a splash of color among dirt lots and peeling paint.

"One of the main reasons I believe Phoenix streets have become more colorful is because a small group of artists saw a mass amount of blank canvas and a city full of concrete. [They] got sick of looking at buff marks and decided to brighten it up on their own dime and accord," says artist J.B. Snyder.

Snyder, one of the Valley's premier muralists, quit his day job four years ago and has been painting professionally ever since. His work can be seen on walls from Seventh Street to Grand Avenue, and in galleries and businesses in central Phoenix and Scottsdale -- including an upcoming art show, entitled "Closure," at The Hive for Third Friday.

"After business owners started to notice the city changing, they started to commission the artists, and that has spiraled into what the city is currently looking like today," he says.

Paint PHX has the potential to shine a national light on the outdoor art scene, he says, but mostly it showcases how far these painters have come as an art community in a considerably short time span.

Admittedly, murals and graffiti have adorned public and private property throughout the Valley for decades. Marcus attributes the popularization of what is commonly referred to as street art to the release of the film Exit Through the Gift Shop. The documentary, which hit theaters in 2010, chronicles works by the infamous British artist Banksy, Shephard Fairey, and Invader, among others.

"It really put the long existing mural and graffiti movements into the spotlight by calling [it] 'street art,' with all styles of work being lumped under one umbrella," says Marcus, who is recognized for his interwoven, colorful pieces. His art form transcends his Native American heritage and goes beyond the expected graffiti-style lettering. "For those of us who have already been creating art in the Valley and downtown area for the last 20 years, 'street art' is a fairly new term."

Location Info


Roosevelt Row

300 E. Roosevelt St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Grand Avenue Arts District

Grand Ave. roughly b/t 7th and 16th avenues, Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Barrio Cafe

2814 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: Restaurant

The Hive

2222 N. 16th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Bragg's Pie Factory

1301 Grand Ave., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Lost Leaf

914 N. 5th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

THINK! Gallery

917 N. 5th St., Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

Fifth Street Paint Supply

915 North Fifth Street, Phoenix, AZ

Category: General

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