Tag Archives: Mesa

Motels of Mesa

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The Hiway Host Motel sign on Main Street in Mesa, AZ.

The Hiway Host Motel sign on Main Street in Mesa, AZ.

On a multi-block strip of Main Street in Mesa, Arizona, one can find several old motels. The rates are cheap (especially for folks who go the weekly or monthly route) and the living can be rough. Yes, it’s a part of the city I wouldn’t care to walk in alone after dark (although I have before). Many of the folks walking around the area seem to dabble in (or perhaps concentrate on) methamphetamine, which leads me to refer to the neighborhood places of lodging as “meth motels.”

img_5963As is often the case, it wasn’t always this way. Main Street in Mesa was once part of U.S. Route 80. According to a vintage postcard website (http://nostalgia.esmartkid.com/azroute80pc.html),

U. S. Highway 80 was one of the original Federal Highways commissioned in 1926 along with some of its more famous newly numbered cousins such as U. S. 66 – “The Mother Road”, U. S. 30 – “The Lincoln Highway”, and U. S. 40 – “The National Highway…”

[I]t was probably more important [than the other, more famous, named highways mentioned above] because it was an all-weather, all-year route that was dependable to transcontinental travelers.

Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Route_80_in_Arizona) says,

U.S. Route 80 (US 80) also known as the Ocean-to-Ocean Highway was a major transcontinental highway which existed in the U.S. state of Arizona from November 11, 1926 to October 6, 1989.[2][4] At its peak, US 80 traveled from the California border in Yuma to the New Mexico state line near Lordsburg...[5]

Low weekly rates appeal to the modern clientele on Mesa's Main Street.

Low weekly rates and kitchenettes at the Trava-Leers Motel probably appeal to the modern clientele on Mesa’s Main Street.

US 80 was a particularly long highway, reaching almost 500 miles (800 km) long within the state of Arizona alone.[7] With the advent of the Interstate Highway System, Interstate 10 and Interstate 8 both replaced US 80 within the state.[8] US 80 was removed from Arizona in 1989; the remainder of it now being State Route 80.[5]

The folks who named this hotel didn't know--or didn't care--that kivas are used religiously and people from the Pueblo tribes don't wear feather headdresses.

The folks who named this hotel and designed the sign didn’t know–or didn’t care–that kivas are used religiously and people from the Pueblo tribes don’t wear feather headdresses.

Question: What do road-weary travelers driving on a coast-to-coast highway eventually need?

Answer: A clean, comfortable place to spend the night.

In a 2012 article about preservation of the neon history on Main Street in Mesa (https://cronkitenewsonline.com

I think "refrigerated" meant "air conditioned."

I think “refrigerated” meant “air conditioned.”

/2012/09/mesa-group-works-to-preserve-neon-history-along-main-street/index.html), president of the Mesa Preservation Foundation Victor Linoff said,

From quite a distance, you’re traveling in your car, you’re tired, you want to stop for the night or get something to eat. These signs pulled you in. They were like beacons in the night.

In the aforementioned article, Demion Clinco, president of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, said of neon signs,

They are emblematic of the classic automobile age in America, [t]hat mid-century modern highway culture that just doesn’t exist anymore.

Not all of the old motels on Main Street have neon signs. Maybe some of them never had neon and simply relied on their competitors’ signs to draw enough people into the general area. There were probably enough drivers passing through to ensure every business got a piece of the pie.  Some neon signs have been lost to the ravages of time. At least a couple of the motels lacking cool signs still boast cool architecture.

This photo shows a view of the Citrus Inn. There are parking spots for cars between the rooms.

This photo shows a view of the Citrus Inn. There are parking spots for cars between the rooms. The Citrus Inn has a really boring, modern sign, but its architecture is old-fashioned cool.

I particularly like the motels with parking spaces between the rooms. The Citrus Inn is designed this way. The open space between the two rooms is big enough for two cars. A covered parking area is a huge luxury for anyone whose car would otherwise be pounded by the Arizona summer sun.

I think this photo shows the Kiva Lodge, but I'm not positive. In any case, it's another example a motel with covered parking next to the rooms. I also like the turquoise accents and the red Spanish tile on the awning.

I think this photo shows the Kiva Lodge, but I’m not positive. In any case, it’s another example a motel with covered parking next to the rooms. I also like the turquoise accents and the red Spanish tile on the awning.

The motels of Mesa and their signs are part of Arizona history and U.S. history too. They are relics of a time before motel chains, when each motel on the road was part of a unique travel experience.

I took all of the photos in this post.

 

Maggie Kuhn

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In the third post about the Play Me, I’m Yours piano installation in Mesa, AZ, I mentioned one of the reasons for writing given on the piano presented by Phonetic Spit was this: I write to speak my mind, even when my voice shakes.

I knew I’d seen some variation of the quote before, but who’d said it? Audre Lorde? Alice Walker? I did a Google search and found Maggie Kuhn was the woman who gave us those words.

Who’s Maggie Kuhn? I didn’t know either, until I did a little reading up on her.

According to http://womenshistory.about.com/cs/quotes/a/maggie_kuhn.htm,

Maggie Kuhn is best known for founding the organization often called the Gray Panthers [officially known at first as the Consultation of Older and Younger Adults for Social Change], a social activist organization raising issues of justice and fairness for older Americans. She is credited with the passage of laws prohibiting forced retirement and with reform in health care and nursing home oversight.

The Wikipedia article about Kuhn (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maggie_Kuhn) tells more about the work she and the Gray Panthers did.

In 1970, although [Kuhn] was working at a job she loved with the Presbyterian Church, she was forced to retire the day she turned 65 because of the mandatory retirement law then in effect. That year, she banded together with other retirees and formed the Gray Panthers movement. Seeing all issues of injustice as inevitably linked, they refused to restrict themselves to elder rights activism, but focused also on peace, presidential elections, poverty, and civil liberties. Their first big issue was opposition to the Vietnam War.

The Gray Panthers’ motto was “Age and Youth In Action,” and many of its members were high school and college students. Kuhn believed that teens should be taken more seriously and given more responsibility by society.

Kuhn raised controversy by openly discussing the sexuality of older people, and shocked the public with her assertion that older women, who outlive men by an average of 8 years, could develop sexual relationships with younger men or each other.

I couldn’t find any information about when or where Kuhn said or wrote her famous words advising us to speak our minds, but I did find the longer quote of which these words are part. The Presbyterian Historical Society (http://www.history.pcusa.org/blog/maggie-kuhn-womens-history-month) gives the longer quote as

Leave safety behind. Put your body on the line. Stand before the people you fear and speak your mind–even if your voice shakes. When you least expect it, someone may actually listen to what you have to say. Well-aimed slingshots can topple giants.

I suspect Maggie Kuhn would be quite pleased to know young people remembered her sentiment and wrote it on a piano in an Arizona town for all to see.

 

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 3)

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The last Play Me, I’m Yours piano I discovered was my favorite because it had a writing theme! This black and white piano, located at the Arizona Museum of Natural History, was decorated with flowers and the reasons why people write.  Some reasons people gave for writing:

I write to right my wrongs. img_5874

I write because the pen is my weapon.

I write to say, “I was here.”

I write because my ancestors weren’t allowed to.

I write to honor my second chances.

I write to relieve myself from pain.

I write to speak my mind, even when my voice shakes.

While researching this post, I discovered the community group responsible for this piano was Phonetic Spit. According to their website (http://phoneticspit.org/about-us/founders-artists/),

Through the intersections of Literary Arts, Youth Development, and Social Justice programs, Phonetic Spit creates Brave Space to empower young and emerging adults to find, develop and publicly present their voices as agents of societal change.

img_5873I can understand how a group of young people interested in the literary arts, publicly presenting their voices, and societal change would use this opportunity to tell the world why writing is important to each of them.

According to the Street Pianos webpage (http://streetpianos.com/mesa2016/pianos/4-arizona-museum-of-natural-history/) dedicated to this piano (#4), the artist who did the work on it was Tomas Stanton. A Phoenix New Times article (“100 Creatives” http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/8-tomas-stanton-6551318 ) from 2012 called Tomas Stanton

a poet, writer, teaching artist, and community activist. He says he’s a self-taught artist dedicated to advancing the art of spoken word through fusion with theatre and dance.

Stanton is co-founder of Phoenix’s premiere youth spoken word ensemble, Phonetic img_5870Spit. He uses hip-hop pedagogy to inspire youth to boldly express themselves through poetry, dance, theatre, and graffiti. His work and teaching style is rooted in his childhood experiences of poverty and single parent household, political issues, identity, and love.

This piano’s Street Pianos webpage also says it was donated by the First United Methodist Church of Mesa and was sponsored by Two Men And A Truck.

My favorite words on this piano read, “Your Voice Matters.” This message is important to everyone who may feel silenced in the current political climate. Every voice matters. Some will say the only voices that matter come from the throats of the rich or the males or the people with light skin. This is not the true.  The truth is every voice matters. My voice matters and your voice matters. Let’s all speak our minds, even when our voices shake.

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I took all of the photos in this post.

If you missed the other posts about the Play Me, I’m Yours pianos, here’s a brief summary from http://www.streetpianos.com/:

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from London to New York, bearing the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.

Located on streets, in public parks, markets and train stations the pianos are temporarily available for everyone to play and enjoy. Play Me, I’m Yours invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment. Decorated by local artists and community groups, the pianos create a place of exchange and an opportunity for people to connect.

 

 

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 2)

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The second Play Me, I’m Yours piano I encountered during my evening stroll along Main Street in Mesa, AZ was in front of the Mesa Contemporary Arts Museum. This one was looked like a cloudy blue sky, and the sides shimmered in the late afternoon sun.

If you missed previous posts, http://www.streetpianos.com/ says,

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe…

Sparkling side view of piano #11

Sparkling side view of piano #11

According to his website (http://www.lukejerram.com/about/),

Luke Jerram’s multidisciplinary practice involves the creation of sculptures, installations and live arts projects. Living in the UK but working internationally for 19 years, Jerram has created a number of extraordinary art projects which have excited and inspired people around the globe.

Jerram has a set of different narratives that make up his practice which are developing in parallel with one another. He is known worldwide for his large scale public artworks.

The Street Pianos webpage (http://streetpianos.com/mesa2016/pianos/11-mesa-contemp-arts-museum/) dedicated to this piano (#11) says it was decorated by artists Kyllan Maney and Erin Peters and the Creative Catalyst team. It was donated by Mesa Arts Center and sponsored by Advanced Eyecare of Arizona.

Back view of piano #11

Back view of piano #11

What I didn’t know until I looked at the aforementioned webpage dedicated to this particular piano is that it was lit up at night. How cool is that! (Very cool, I think. I wish I had seen it all lit up.) The area behind the panel that reads “Play Me, I’m Yours” apparently glowed electric lavender, and a bright blue light shone from underneath.

The white and blue color scheme reminded me of clouds in a blue sky. I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the serene sky imagery and the gliding birds next to the shimmery shake of the sparkles on the sides. (Are the shimmers meant to represent the stars in the night sky?)

Again, I wished I could play this piano, but I made myself content with simply striking a few keys and and enjoying the art.

I took all of the photos in this post.

Bird detail from piano #11

Bird detail from piano #11

Play Me, I’m Yours (Part 1)

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In the spring of 2016, I was exploring the public art on Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. One of the coolest things I saw was a Pepto-Bismol pink piano labeled “Play Me, I’m Yours.” What was this about? I had no idea, but loved the presence of a piano out on the street available for anyone to play. As I walked further east on Main Street, I encountered two more street pianos. Very interesting, I thought. I figured the pianos were part of downtown Mesa’s permanent sculpture collection and didn’t think much more about them until I sat down to write this post.

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Front view of piano #6

According to the Street Pianos website (http://www.streetpianos.com/),

Touring internationally since 2008, Play Me, I’m Yours is an artwork by British artist Luke Jerram. Reaching over 10 million people worldwide – more than 1,500 street pianos have already been installed in over 50 cities across the globe, from London to New York, bearing the simple instruction Play Me, I’m Yours.

Located on streets, in public parks, markets and train stations the pianos are temporarily available for everyone to play and enjoy. Play Me, I’m Yours invites the public to engage with, activate and take ownership of their urban environment. Decorated by local artists and community groups, the pianos create a place of exchange and an opportunity for people to connect.

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Back view of piano #6

It’s really cool to find out the pianos I encountered are part of a global phenomenon. But wait, it gets better!

The page of the Street Pianos website dedicated to Mesa (http://streetpianos.com/mesa2016/) says,

Mesa Arts Center presented Play Me, I’m Yours, from March 1 until April 9 2016, as part of the celebrations of a major milestone: 10 years at their beautiful location in Downtown Mesa, AZ.  24 playable and artistically enhanced pianos were featured, in Downtown Mesa and at other satellite locations throughout the city.

What? Those pianos were there for a limited time only, and I got to see them? How cool is that? (Very cool, I think.)

I’m going to do three blog posts about the three Play Me, I’m Yours piano I encountered in Mesa.

Today I am writing about piano #6, which was located on Main Street, east of MacDonald. According to the Street Pianos website (http://streetpianos.com/mesa2016/pianos/6-main-street-east-of-macdonald/, where you can also view videos of people playing this piano),it was decorated by artist: Kyllan Maney  and students of the New School For The Arts and was donated by Myrna Horton.

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Left side view of piano #6

According to Kyllan Maney’s website (http://www.kyllanmaney.com/about/), she

works with aspects of nature that reminds her of the feelings of tranquility, discovery, spirituality and awe that exist when looking at plants and objects closely.  The visual foundation of Kyllan’s work is rooted in scientific illustrations, religious icons, human relationships and inspiration from past and current artists. Kyllan enjoys the inventive, creative process of working with mixed media, oil painting and large scale murals.

There’s so much I like about this piano. I think its bright, eye-catching color is grand. I like the individual portraits decorating it. As I said before, I think it is so cool to see pianos out and about, available for anyone to play.

Unfortunately, I don’t know how to play the piano. Music lessons were not something my parents

Right side view of piano #6

Right side view of piano #6

could afford when I was a kid, and by the time I took a piano class in high school, it was too late. I realized I basically have no musical talent, and it was going to take way more effort than I was willing to exert to learn to play the piano (or anything else).

That evening in Mesa, I was sad I couldn’t sit down and coax a song from this instrument, but I was glad to know it was out there waiting for someone more talented than I .

I took all the photos in this post.

To read more about public art in Mesa, go here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/07/the-big-pink-chair/, here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/15/booked-for-the-day/, and here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/11/14/quackers/.

Detail from piano #6 for all my Bowie homies.

Detail from piano #6

Quackers

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Quackers is yet another sculpture in the permanent collection in downtown Mesa, AZ. It is located next to a large fountain near the northwest corner of Main and Center streets. (View the guide to Downtown Mesa’s Permanent Sculpture Collection here: http://www.downtownmesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/PrintableSculptureGuide.pdf.)

img_5855Mike Dwyer of Loveland, CO created this bronze piece. According to Dwyer’s website (http://mikedwyersculptures.com/mikedwyer-quacke.html),

Mike was inspired to sculpt “Quackers” around his two year old son Nathan and his love of feeding the ducks at the local park. Nathan would hold on to crackers or bread and try to get the ducks to come in as close as possible.

This was Mike’s first sculpture of a child. He used real measurements from Nathan, even going in with his calipers and measuring ears nose and extremities while Nathan was napping. He also took many pictures of the active, small boy in many different poses.

According to http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM8V72_Quackers_Mesa_AZ,

The sculpture was purchased through the City of Mesa’s Permanent Sculpture Panel and was dedicated img_5856in April 2004.

I think this is a really cute piece of art. How can Mesa go wrong with a little kid feeding ducks? What I really want to know is how the city keeps people out of that fountain in the summer.

Teaching Children Since 1878

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I’ve written before about the sculptures on Main Street in Mesa, Arizona. (Read about The Big Pink Chair here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/07/the-big-pink-chair/ and Booked for the Day here: http://www.rubbertrampartist.com/2016/10/15/booked-for-the-day/.) Today’s featured sculpture is called Teaching Children Since 1878.

According to http://collections.si.edu/search/results.htm?q=record_ID:siris_ari_316604,

The sculpture is the central piece of a larger plaza setting, which includes 16 bronze or brass relief plaques on surrounding stucco wall with inscriptions on the history of education in Mesa and 4 columns from the original Mesa High School (formerly known as the second Abraham Lincoln School).

The brochure (https://res-5.cloudinary.com/simpleview/image/upload/v1/clients/mesa/DMA%20Sculpture%20Guide%203-2015_7bd31763-551d-4e7d-8dac-5cdcc56c8d24.pdf) with information about the self-guided tour of the Mesa’s sculpture collection lists the sculptor as James Avati, but the img_5842aforementioned Smithsonian Institution website lists three people as sculptors of this piece: James  R. Avati, C. L. Harding, and Dennis Tidwell.

While writing this post, I learned James R. Avati is from a family of artist. According to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Avati,

“His [grand]father was a professional photographer in New York City and his father was “James Sante Avati…an American illustrator and paperbackcover artist. ”

James R. Avati’s biography on the Utah Artist Project website (http://www.lib.utah.edu/collections/utah-artists/UAP-James-Avati.php) refers to Teaching Children Since 1878 as a “major commission.” It also says,

James R. Avati of Redbank, New Jersey, and Salt Lake City, is an excellent and sensitive sculptor who img_5845studied at the Newark School of Fine and Industrial Arts, at the Arts Students League in New York City, at Ricks College in Idaho, and at Brigham Young University. He was also a graduate student in the Department of Art at the University of Utah where he earned his M.F.A. in 1988. While there he worked with Angelo Caravaglia in the development of his frequently powerful art.

This life-size bronze sculpture is located on the south side of Mesa’s Main Street, on the corner of Sirrine Street.

I enjoy the juxtaposition of the fashions worn by the teacher and her students against the backdrop of modern buildings and cars, motorcycles and traffic lights. The teacher reminds me of a statue of a pioneer woman in Austin, TX a friend and I once used as the star of a short film.

Next time you’re strolling in downtown Mesa, be sure to checkout these scholars.

I took all of the photos in this post.