Our day in Mesa started at Lost Dutchman Cafe (12 N. Center Street ) where we met a friend of mine who was living in the area. As we left the coffeeshop, Nolagirl spotted two brightly decorated electrical boxes. You know it’s a pretty cool part of town when even the utility hardware is turned into works of art.
I’d been on a self-guided art tour of downtown Mesa in the spring of 2016, and now Nolagirl and I were walking around on Main Street in March of 2018. We’d just left the Sparks! event at the Arts Center, and we were looking for the Big Pink Chair. I love the Big Pink Chair, and I was hoping Nolagirl could take some photos of me sitting in it. During our walk up and down (or was that down and up?) Main Street, we saw several pieces of public art, some I’d seen in 2016 and some brand new.
As we headed to the Arts Center early in the day, I noticed this Mesa mural painted in the style of an old-school postcard. I particularly like the saguaro and mountain scene painted in the “M.” This mural is across the street from Milano Music Center, and I took some photos while I was standing in front of the music store, but they didn’t look so good. I took this photo in the afternoon when I ened up right in front of the mural.
The artist is Ericka Jaynes, and you can find her on Facebook.
Down the street, we saw another mural I’d admired inthe past. This one is called Mesa Mural.
The way the sun hits it on spring afternoons makes it very difficult to photograph because the lighting is uneven. If I were a better photographer, I’d probably know how to even out the shadows and light. Nolagirl and I decided the best time to capture the mural is probably in the morning, during the golden hour, before the sun and surrounding buildings work together to cast shadows on it.
I’ll go ahead and share my 2016 photo of the mural, even though it’s not perfect.
According to the Waymarking website, the mural is located at 63 W Main Street and the artist is Lauren Lee. Lee’s website says,
This mural was completed in August 2015, commissioned by the City of Mesa and Downtown Mesa Association.
That Sunday afternoon was a good day for murals. Near where Downtown Mesa’s Permanent Sculpture Collection ends, we saw this mural decorating the side of a building. (The mural actually wraps around to the front too.)
I like the wavy, funhouse mirror quality of the scene. Is the fantasy building going to fall down? Will it quiver but continue to stand? Did the building do psychedelics or is it the viewer who’s chemically altered? Maybe the artist was on drugs or maybe the idea for this building came from a fever vision. In any case, I think it’s a fun mural.
An October 2012 article in the East Valley Tribune answers many questions about the mural. The building it graces was once the Eclectic Monkey Emporium, a second-hand clothing store. No drugs were involved in the idea for the mural; the building in the painting is supposed to be melting, as in from the heat. The artists who created this hot but cool mural are R.E. Wall and Margaret Dewar.
Outside the Smith-O-Lator cookie shop (124 West Main Street), two pieces of art decorate two columns in front of the store.
The first was created by public participation during an art event in downtown Mesa. Used 16 oz. plastic water bottles were cut open, painted, then attached close together to look like a patch of flowers growing out of the building. I love the texture (how cool that old plastic bottles can look fluffy!), and I was impressed by how well the color has held up to the Arizona sun and heat.
Next to the installation of water bottle flowers is a painting of a mermaid, or more accurately, half a mermaid. She is delightful, although I don’t know who painted her or under what circumstances. (When I enlarge the photo, I can see see what appears to be the remnants of letters on the bottom of the painting, but they’re too faint for me to read them.) How does she fit into the landscape of downtown Mesa? Maybe the artist longed for the sea while being stuck in the desert.
Not far down the sidewalk is a painted scene that is a better fit for a desert town. I love that big saguaro reaching up to the cloudy sky and the purple mountains in the background. I also love the sense of anticipation I get from this piece. Is there a storm brewing? Will there be rain?
I can’t tell if the names in the white paint on the bottom right of the piece is the artist’s signature or ramdom tagging. Can anyone solve the mystery of who created this bit of urban art?
The last piece of art I saw as we continued walking on Main Street was an old favorite. I’d first seen it in 2016, which is when I took this photo.
The creator of this piece is Kyllan Maney. Her artist statement says
[t]he visual foundation of Kyllan’s work is rooted in scientific illustrations, religious icons, human relationships and inspiration from past and current artists.
I love that the dove is also a map of Mesa. “YOU ARE HERE” the map says, in a place of love and peace. Mesa can be a place of drugs and crime, heat and desperation, but in this piece Maney reminds us that art can be a kind of sanctuary.