May 12, 2015

"Nuestra Gente" : New mural in Phoenix

 "ARIZONE" by Pablo Luna, Phoenix, 1986

"NAUSEOUSLY GREEDY" by Mando Rascón, Phoenix, 1998

Here are some photos of a mural I painted earlier this year near downtown Phoenix, Arizona, titled "Nuestra Gente". The background designs around the face were painted by Mando Rascón, and the outer images on the ends of the mural were painted by Pablo Luna. Mando and Pablo were known in the 90s as pioneers of graffiti in Phoenix. Pablo began painting graffiti in the early 80s and became one of Phoenix's most prolific painters, while Mando perfected a style of intricate lettering that was unique and influential. It was exciting to take time to paint something nice with them both again. I'm really proud of this mural and, at the risk of sounding ostentatious, consider it a kind of homage to and for the people of Phoenix. 
I was originally planning on painting this at another far more visible location in the heart of downtown Phoenix but the building owners commissioning the mural had concerns that the model looked "unattractive", saying that "there was hesitation about putting up a person of any noticeable ethnicity".
Because of this I decided to to paint the mural elsewhere, on nearby Van Buren Street. Not as visible or prestigious a location, but still meaningful. The mural is in walking distance from landmarks on Van Buren (all gone now) that I remember from growing up. Places like New Chance Thrift store (where about three decades back my parents bought an old streamlined refrigerator from the 50s that miraculously still works fine), Arnold's Pickle factory (the smell will stay with me could could smell pickles a block away), La Tolteca restaurant (where I enjoyed many breakfast burros & caguamas, not to mention bomb pan dulce), and one of my old schools, St. Mary's Elementary (which had a profound impact on me for being the only güerito in third grade).
It can be a hard place to like, but I maintain a great love for Phoenix. Despite the efforts of those that attempt to foster an environment of fear, ignorance, and homogeneity (and those that acquiesce), I believe Phoenix is a great city that should be proud of its diverse cultural population and indigenous history.
"Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." -MLK Jr.
Many thanks to Pablo, Mando, and the folks at Heavy Pedal for helping make this mural possible, and thanks to those that are helping fight to make Phoenix a better place.
Thanks also to the Nitty Gritty crew, Polina, David Joseph Perez, & Howard's ACE Hardware