Phoenix, Arizona is one of America’s fastest-growing cities. In fact, data released by the census bureau declared Phoenix as the fastest growing city in the United States between 2010 and 2020. During that time, Phoenix added 163,000 more residents, which translates to an 11.2% growth. Naturally, all this growth means that the city that I’ve known since 1993 is constantly changing. Not all growth is bad, but not all growth is amazing either. Oftentimes, something has to be sacrificed in the name of change, and more usually than not, that sacrifice is typically art.
Phoenix used to be a cheap city to live in, but the days of cheap living are eroding away. Gone are the days when someone could rent a near-derelict warehouse in downtown Phoenix and maintain an artist’s studio. Yet, some people still manage to do so, and Phoenix’s monthly event called “Art Walk” is still alive and well, albeit in a more commercialized mode. I remember attending Art Walk in its earliest days back in the early ’90s when 200-300 attended compared to the estimated 20,000 people that attend the same event now. Yet, the big difference between now and then is the artists that used to open their gallery doors are largely gone. What is left are the few remainders, and they now have to compete with food trucks and people with pop-up tents that sell everything from hand-made soap, goat cheese, and clothes.
I’ve been photographing downtown Phoenix’s artistic murals since 2010, and I sincerely regret that I didn’t start documenting them sooner. So many fine murals have come and gone throughout the years, and I enjoy looking at the photos and remembering them. Many of the murals have been sacrificed in the name of progress, but for every mural that disappears, another mural pops up again somewhere else in the city. It is a constant joy to make a new discovery, just as it is a joy to look back and admire the art that longer exists today.
I invite readers to join me now on a photographic journey.
First, here are some of my favorites in no particular order:
And now, I will present to you some before and afters:
Next, here’s an ode to some murals that are no longer there:
And here are some new ones that I’ve recently spotted:
Here’s a collection of oldies but goodies (some with the status unknown):
Finally, here’s a grand finale:
If you would like to view the entire collection, here is a link to the album.