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Arizona Heritage Center, Part 3

The next room contained paintings — puzzled at first, I began reading the placards next to each and realized that they, as a set, tell the story of Phoenix. I will just share the message from the placards so the artists can speak for themselves. Do take the time to read their words and reflect on the details in the painting. Quite fascinating.

Pre-1867 - Ancient Hohokam Civilization, Canals and Community Building
(600 A.D. to 1450 A.D.)

Artist: Lauren Lee
Lauren Lee is a Phoenix-based muralist. Her work can be seen on the side of greenHAUS gallery in the iconic "Three Birds" mural, as well as in Fair Trade Cafe, Mesa's Republica Empanada, among other locations. Her colorful style and illustrative sensibilities have placed Lauren as one of the leading muralists in Arizona. She is noted by Phoenix New Times as among the Top 100 Creatives as well as featured on the cover of Echo Magazine's Arts Edition. While best known for her murals. Lauren's work can be seen in local gallery shows at spaces such as greenHAUS, (9) the gallery, and Fair Trade's Roosevelt location. More information about Lauren, her work, and gallery schedule can be found at

Mural Description:
Lauren's segment of the Phoenix Phabulous History Mural focuses on the Hohokam time period. The Hohokam were an ancient people who populated what is now Phoenix from about 600 A.D. to about 1450 A.D. They survived and thrived in the Arizona basin. Lauren's mural represents five separate facets of Hohokam life. From left to right, each figure represents Hohokam design and art, agriculture, the Arizona sun, the canal system dug by the Hohokams by hand, and lastly, the spirit/dream world. Lauren painted the figures without specific features to represent all Hohokam people, rather than specific individuals.

1867 to 1880 - Phoenix Wild West Pioneering Years Following the U.S. Civil War

Artist: Angel Diaz

Angel Diaz is a Phoenix-based artist influenced by Mexican culture and diverse styles of art. His artistic work is displayed throughout the Greater Downtown Phoenix area on outdoor murals, as well as inside prominent burgeoning galleries. His work integrates culture and graffiti in a new urban style of art.

Mural Description:
Angel's mural depicts the unique and pristine scenery of Arizona's early territorial landscape, complete with mesas, corn and cactus. This is the place where, in 1867, modern-day Phoenix was founded when Jack Swilling reconstructed ancient Hohokam Indian canals, enabling the Salt River Valley to be farmed. From the post-Civil War years to the turn of the century, the development of early Phoenix was the result of federal policies and important local actions by a diverse community of business leaders, some who came to Phoenix with wealth and experience from communities elsewhere.

1867 to 1880 - Phoenix Wild West Pioneering Years Following the U.S. Civil War

Artist: Darrin Armijo-Wardle
Darrin Armijo-Wardle was born in Page, Arizona in 1979 and after graduating from high school there, he enrolled at Mesa Community College to study Graphic Design. During an art history class he saw Francisco Goya's "Third of May 1808" and found his true inspiration — oil painting. At the suggestion of a professor, he switched to studying fine arts and art history. His work has shifted from the social to the technological, exploring identity in the digital age. Armijo-Wardle lives and works in Phoenix, Arizona and is pursuing a Master's degree in oil painting.

Mural Description:
Armijo-Wardle's mural. "Early Stewards of Phoenix," depicts rebirth, and this rebirth is the most iconic theme in the story of Phoenix. It starts with the Hohokam civilization that built an extensive irrigation network rivaling those used in the ancient Near East, Egypt and China. With these canals and the fine alluvial soil of the Salt and Gila River valleys, the Hohokam transformed the desert into lush farmland. Though the Hohokam mysteriously disappeared, possibly due to drought and other factors, the ancient canal system remained in place when Jack Swilling arrived in 1867. Swilling was inspired to resurrect the canals, bringing water and farming back to the Valley.

When the water flowed so did the people, thus civilization in Phoenix was reborn. But it wouldn't come easy. For early Phoenix pioneers after 1867, foods, fires and the tension between self-interest and the common good were ever-present. Yet, it was the stewardship of the men and women of this community from diverse walks of life — Mexican, Anglo, Native American, African-American and Asian — that would carry Phoenix from a city in Arizona's territorial era to the chosen capital of a new state.

1881 to 1911 - Pre-Statehood Emergent Years of Modern Phoenix

Artist: Katharine Leigh Simpson

Katharine Leigh Simpson is a painter, fiber artist, performer and moving figure. She attended the Katherine K. Herberger College of Fine Arts and graduated with a Bachelor Degree in Fine Arts (BEA) in Painting.

Katharine currently works with paper and fibers as a medium in her personal work for its transformational properties. She designs costumes for professional dancers and is also a painter in the Phoenix History Mural that will be unveiled in March for the Phoenix 2014 Art Detour.

Mural Description:
Katharine's mural features as a key figure Trinidad Escalante Swilling, the first non-native to move to Phoenix and wife of Jack Swilling, one of the key founders of Phoenix, renown for reviving the Hohokam canal system. There was a great deal of progress and development that occurred before our statehood in 1912. In 1887. Phoenix saw major cultural and social fluxes driven by the Southern Pacific Rail Road finding its way to Phoenix. Phoenix was quite diverse, with approximately half of the residents being from Hispanic descent until the Southern Pacific Rail Road came, bringing many new residents from the East Coast of the United States. The first horse-drawn streetcars in Phoenix appeared in 1887, electric cars debuted in 1893. In 1891, Phoenix residents saw the biggest flood in the city's history which divided the city's demographics. Other major symbols of Phoenix change included construction of Roosevelt Dam, Phoenix Indian School (located at the northeast corner of today's Indian School Road and Central Avenue), and the Changing Tree, representing cultural transition and anticipation for statehood.

1912 to 1945 - Statehood and Phoenix Expansion

Artist: Jessica Eddings Correa

Jessica Eddings Correa was raised in sunny Phoenix, Arizona, born on a very cloudy November day. She found her love for patterns and shading early on in the plastered walls of houses where she explored and imagined figures popping through textures, creating scenes from old Disney movies. She was educated in drawing/painting from her early elementary school years to later attending Phoenix College.

Jessica found her love for art in the conversations that could be spoken without words and the varied perspectives of people. A hint of nostalgia is seen in her work. She dabbles in an array of materials from yard sales, refurbishing stores, and sidewalk piles but uses acrylic/canvas for most of her current pieces.

Mural Description:
Jessica's mural represents Arizona's early statehood era between 1912 and 1945. She spotlights how ethnic diversity impacted Phoenix's developing years in the face of prevalent discrimination and enriched the foundation on which our city now flourishes.

Themes and symbols expressed in the piece represent contributions from minorities along with the marginalization of cultures (separation of Catholic masses/Churches for Hispanics, La Ligra Protectora Latina), the assimilation of Native Indian communities, and residential barriers that coincided within this Phoenix time frame.

1912 to 1945 - Statehood and Phoenix Expansion

Artist: Amanda Adkins

Amanda Adkins is a Phoenix-based artist, muralist and educator. Amanda's work is cerebral and emotional, exploring the connection between personal happiness juxtaposed with relationships. Amanda attended Katherine K. Herberger School of Fine Arts, obtaining a BFA in Art Education teaching art at ASU and in the public school system. Her celebrated work has been exhibited in galleries across the Valley including the Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) and Phoenix Art Museum.

Mural Description:
Amanda's mural depicts the 'Five Cs of Arizona" from 1912 to 1945 (Copper, Cattle, Cotton, Citrus and Climate) and highlights the importance of women's suffrage and gaining the right to vote in Arizona during the beginning of statehood. The state flag behind the female figure represents Arizona's warm and sunny climate. While the strong female figure with her arms outstretched as to embrace the new freedom of being able to vote stands prominently in the middle of the painting. On one side of the figure, she is surrounded by orange fields and cotton. This represents the workers and farmers who brought economic prosperity. On the other side of the figure, there is a pickaxe representing the copper mining industry that boomed during the 1920s, continuing as an economic driver today. A cattle skull portrays that in 1918, Arizona was a top provider of beef in the United States. In the midst of Arizona's Five Cs, the Phoenix economy grew up from the desert landscape. Up in the top right corner of the mural the Arizona State seal resides, sealing in our future and what the years ahead will bring for Phoenix and the state.

History of Phoenix High-rises

Artist: Aileen Frick

Aileen Frick is a Phoenix-based full-time artist interested in the way collage can be integrated into paintings in a way that the viewer is not conscious of the boundary between printed images and paint. Beauty and silence play an important part in her artwork. The paintings become quiet meditations on meaning and existence. Most of all, she creates spaces that invite viewers inside.

Aileen allows intuition to guide her process of searching through magazines and tearing pages to create compositions. Text and imagery within the collage mysteriously reveal their true meaning during the creative process. Once the collage is complete, Aileen then enhances each piece by layering with oil paint, experimenting with the transparencies of the oils. Although her compositions are straightforward, much deeper meaning can be found from her use of collage.

Mural Description:
Throughout Phoenix history, high-rises have represented commerce and economic development. The growth of Phoenix high-rises exploded in Downtown Phoenix during the late 1920s near Central Avenue. Fortunately, a handful of historic Phoenix high-rises remain today, serving as treasures and remnants of our city's history, preserved through adaptive reuse fired by the passion of local historians and downtown advocates as well as by dedicated partnership and investment from developers, urban designers, and government. This mural depicts some of the most prominent high rises in the history of Phoenix, including the monumental Westward Ho, San Carlos Hotel, The Security Building, Luhrs Building and Luhrs Tower, and some of our city's more modern skyscrapers including Chase Tower and Viad Tower (formerly known as the Dial Tower).

1980 to 2000 - Phoenix Emerges as a Key Player to the Southwest Metropolis

Artist: Michael Pruitt

Michael Pruitt was born and raised in Texas. After earning his BFA from Texas Tech University, he spent a decade hiking and mountain biking the Western United States. Michael Pruitt applies his sense of adventure through an exploration of various creative outlets. While he is primarily a commissioned painter, he also teaches art at Girls Leadership Academy of Arizona, and designs and builds unique residential interior spaces.

Mural Description:
Michael's mural illustrates the planning and execution of the unprecedented growth of Phoenix, and the "rebirth" of downtown. The population boom fueled the energy of a vibrant arts scene, the acquisition of professional sports teams, improved public services, and initial Downtown Phoenix development projects such as the Herberger Theater and Arizona Center. This time period saw great progress in urban core revitalization driven by business and civic leaders. Phoenix experienced significant redevelopment through the construction of such iconic places as Arizona Science Center. Burton Barr Central Library, the new Phoenix City Hall, as well as the expansion of Phoenix Convention Center and Phoenix Art Museum.

More than $1 billion in bond funding not only powered the built environment of Greater Downtown Phoenix, it also supported the Phoenix Mountain Preserve program, helping to protect and enhance places of natural outdoors beauty that shape the unique city of Phoenix.

1960 to 1979 - Suburb Expansion and Growth Away from Downtown Phoenix

Artist: Lucretia Torva

Lucretia Torva has been painting for 30 years and every subject matter has crossed her path. Favoring reflections, refractions and shine, automobiles are a natural choice for her subject matter. Specializing in paintings of cars, she feels automobiles symbolize some of humanity's best qualities: Creativity and ingenuity. Cars also represent history and foster storytelling. She received both her BFA and MFA from the University of Illinois in Champaign, IL.

Mural Description:
Beginning with the color of the sky, the orange and purple represent the Phoenix Suns founded in 1968. The famous Mr. Lucky's neon sign represents the energy of entertainment and a gambling-like Grand Avenue, in Las Vegas style. The silhouette of Camelback Mountain is on the horizon. Veterans Memorial Coliseum was built in 1965. Two cars are featured, including a Studebaker police car (the officers are shooting at unseen criminals...only seen by the fire out of their guns) and a 1957 Chevy Bel Air representing the fun of cruising on Central. Bob's Big Boy restaurant on Central Avenue was an iconic landmark. Bob is holding a burger representing the Phoenix 40! Behind Bob is a vignette representing the fight for civil rights. Martin Luther King, Jr. visited Phoenix in 1964 and he is shown with Lincoln Ragsdale, an important activist for the rights of minorities. Included is a typical sign displayed at businesses who did not want to serve anyone but whites. The figure holding a sign is taken from a photograph of an actual civil rights protest in Phoenix — the sign reads, "WE SERVE WHITE'S [sic] only NO SPANISH or MEXICANS". A canal flows through this scene at bottom left.

1945 to 1959 - Post World War II Boom Years

Artist: James McCarty III
James McCarty III is an American born graffiti and "Neo-Pop" Artist who works mainly with aerosol, acrylics and enamels. The use of multilayered hand cut stencils always has been a very prominent feature in James work, and he continues to use the same techniques and mediums (acrylics, aerosol, inks and enamels) as he used in 1990. Many of his pieces are created with reclaimed materials such as barn wood, metals and other materials he collects during his travels.

Mural Description:
Centered by a copper-colored star and backdropped by luminous gold and crimson rays representing the original 13 U.S. colonies. Jim's mural depicts a street-level scene of the late 1940s through mid-1950s. During this mid-century period. Arizona (in practice) was a segregated state. Schools and neighborhoods were racially segregated. Restaurants, hotels and other public accommodations were barred to people of color.

Within a "Downtown Phoenix" perspective of early high-rise architecture such as hotels, shopping centers and towers, the lower portion of my painting is a stylistic interpretation of landscapes and "People" (shapes and colors of all sizes) melding together into a community with relatively surmountable social barriers between races and classes. It's Jim's hope that this painting reveals a sense of wonder to the viewer and inspires youth. artists and communities to stand up and take an active role breaking down the segregated barriers that still exist this very day. He believes the solution is simple: "We must awaken, by realizing that our differences are an illusion that, in reality, do not exist."

1945 to 1959 - Post World War II Boom Years

Artist: Marisa Hall Valdez
Marisa Hall Valdez knew she wanted to be an Artist the moment she completed her first Art lesson at 10 years old. A Valley resident for more than 16 years, she left her hometown of Anthony, Texas when she was 21 to become a Phoenician and attend the Art Institute of Phoenix where she completed her degree in Computer Animation. In December of 2012, Marisa decided to transition away from corporate America and pursue her art full-time. Her "5 Cs" include Color, Characters, Comedy, Community, and Culture.

Mural Description:
Without air conditioning, many Phoenicians would not be here and the city would not be among the largest metropolitan areas of the United States. Marisa's mural. "Arizona's Unofficial 6th C - Cooling." depicts a pivotal time in Phoenix history - the post-World War II era. It was a time of growth and expansion. Sky Harbor Airport provided quick travel to a desert oasis getaway for the winter-weary vacationer. This created growth for hotels and resorts, residential developments, and industrial complexes.

The Goettl Brothers built up one of the first cooling businesses in Phoenix, and as a result, Phoenix became an ideal location to live, work and play year-round. As World War II veterans moved to Phoenix and families relocated for work. Phoenix became a place of opportunity and Phoenix saw a population boom that continues today. Air conditioning and the Phoenix airport and military airbases were catalysts for the economic base to shift from primarily an agriculture-based economy to an industrial economy centered around manufacturing.

1980 to 2000 - Phoenix Emerges as a Key Player to the Southwest Metropolis

Artist: Seth Payson
All his life Seth Payson (aka mojepe) has been surrounded by artistic and creative people. This greatly influenced Seth's art and creativity. His mother painted pictures, was involved in theater, and designed costumes. Many family friends were artists. Particularly memorable icons were Donnafred (a poet. painter, alternative thinker), Seth's great-grandmother. and Frank Balaam, a stylized landscape and portrait artist who also painted troupe l'oeil murals. Others included Diana Tunis, a portrait artist and doll designer who served as set and costume designer for the Summer Youth Musical Theater Program, of which Seth participated from 7 until 14. Growing up with artists of all types. Seth developed a different approach to solving problems. He values being an individual and creating his own opportunities.

Mural Description:
Seth chose to feature Legend City, Wallace and Ladmo. and Gerald because their characters were an essential part of Phoenix culture from 1954 to 1989. The Wallace and Ladmo Show starred Bill Thompson as Wallace. Ladimir Kwiatkowski as Ladmo, and Pat McMahon as Gerald as well as a host of other hilarious characters. Although Seth was too young to have watched the show, he noted that his parents both grew up watching and enjoying the program. He said. "My mother had the opportunity to be on the show meet the whole gang, receiving a signed Ladmo Bag in 1989, the final year of production." Seth has personally met Bill Thompson and Pat McMahon. With many personal ties to the show's characters and memorabilia. Seth enjoyed hearing memories from passersby who watched him paint this mural during Phoenix Festival of the Arts in 2013.

To be continued...

Life is good.

B. David

P. S., All photos and text © B. David Cathell Photography, Inc. — www.bdavidcathell.com