Valley of the Sun – and Street Art!

Another weekend has come and gone – and shockingly enough, I was out of town for another event…

But as I always try to tell my staff and those I care about, you always have to find time for yourself – and on this 48 hour trip in and out of Phoenix I did just that!

Flying into Sky-harbor International Airport (a trip that is almost a monthly occurrence these days) I saw the typical landmarks you’d come to expect from the valley: Camelback Mountain, Desert, Chase Field (or the Bank One Ballpark as I remember it), more Desert, the airport and some really cool street art!

So after my not so Disney Magical Express commute to the Rental Car Terminal I decided to take 30 minutes for “me” and explore the creative sights in Phoenix you might not hear about on the travel channel (if you haven’t been on the DME in Orlando I apologize that reference was lost on you).

The thing I love most about Street Art, is that you don’t have to understand it to enjoy it (this rule also applies liquid nitrogen made ice cream and air travel). So I drove my rental car through and around downtown Phoenix and saw so many amazing pieces that I wanted to capture and share!

I do not know the artists names or backstory, but their work deserves attention and if anything – I hope this post finds its way to them so they know they got two thumbs up from this peanut gallery.

This mural really stood out to me! I love the Mayan (is that even culturally correct?) structure, colors and lose relationship to outer space. Something tells me if I look at this mural long enough it will give me a clue to when the world is suppose to end, or provide proof that the aliens build these structure and the pyramids.

And I don’t quite get this piece but the colors and construction of the face through the curves is beautiful. And I really like the landscape to the left of the silhouette because I think I can match the artist to another piece I captured just a few minutes later farther south. I really like these figures caught in mid-intimate dance. Without flesh and muscles to showcase their expression it’s hard to tell if they are passionately tied to each other or if they are just background dancers of a bigger production and just going through the steps – I assumed it was the former and looked away as to not interrupt their “moment” – plus, i’m a millennial and you knew a deep-in-thought selfie was inevitable…

I call this next peice “Cher the Wall” since this beautiful profile shares the wall with a whimsical hummingbird. “If I could turn back time” I’d like to be there when the artist created this and ask who this woman is and what inspired the piece. I really dig the tie to the vines and wonder if she is suppose to represent mother nature (for some reason I always envisioned her as a blonde – go figure).

And based on the sign, I think this area is called Roosevelt Row – but I’m no Trip Advisor or as geographically inclined as Google Maps.

(Warning, this is about the get as deep as my intellect will take me – don’t worry, its a hole you can easily step out of)

At first I saw this piece and thought that the person was crying because of the mess they had made… But after making my way close to the artwork, I picked up on the color of their hair and the deeply embedded colors pushed into their fingernails and the smallest wrinkles on each hand. Thats when my perspective changes – then I realized it wasn’t a sad picture of someone being upset – but instead, a artist who was reflecting on the work they created. The color fading from the hair represented how much the artists put in to their work… so much that there was nothing left to give but the faint color left behind. And all of the colors and marks on their hands showed the hard work and grit put into creating the master piece. I could be 100% off, but this piece really spoke to me and the work that I do. Some times you cant appreciate what you are doing because you are so deeply engulfed in the process, that you need to take a step back and see the bigger picture, what you created and the impact you may have had.

And in a giant contrast to my deep analysis above –  I just really dug the funky southwest flair of this cactus and its landscape within the text.

This piece is sideways… and thats okay. Because I don’t think there is a wrong way to look at it. And I’m pretty sure this wall was done by the same artist as one of the earlier photos I shared in this post. I loved how a walking tour of “Roosevelt Row” could be tied together by street art.

There was artist expression everywhere I could see and I loved the variety and style.

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This design was a recurring theme – really helped to tie the area together!

Even in the smallest places you can find unique pieces and surprises.

I really liked this view – almost as if you were driving out west in downtown Phoenix and watching the sun go down. A view I remember vividly being born and raised in the Valley of the Sun.

I call this piece ” Millenial Catnip” because brightly colored flower and abstract designs screams “take a selfie in front of me” – so I did . And in the words of Demi Lovato, “Sorry not sorry…” (Yup, I went there).

Don’t get this one either… And that’s okay. I call this “The Product of Recreational Drugs and Paint.”

Now this piece is unique and not just because the dude looked like PeeWee Herman or because there were flying pigs… Or maybe, its exactly because PeeWee finally found love (pointing to the heart shape up out) when pigs fly.

And this last mural is one I actually saw part of before, but didn’t realize the piece stretched longer down the street. I had taken my photo before with these birds flying behind me – but love that now I knew where they came from.

If anyone else likes street art or has any cool pictures or pieces around Phoenix, please let me know – I’d love to see more of what Phoenix has to offer!

I have so much respect for these pieces and tip my hat to the artists. You are amazing and I would love to see more of what you (the artists) have done!

Thanks for reading and please let me know your thoughts and reactions to these pieces!

I love Street Art & Free Expression

I started my college career at North Carolina State University (Go Pack). One of my favorite things about the campus was a small tunnel connecting the residence halls to the classroom buildings called the “Free Expression Tunnel.” This tunnel was NC State’s solution to graffiti. They designated a set location where spray painting was allowed (think of it like a smoking zone – but instead of smoke, spray-paint).

I was always drawn to art (get it? OK, no more bad jokes) but never has any real spray painting experience till college. And it wasn’t until then that I realized how extremely difficult it was to paint with. I did my share of “free expression” in the tunnel during my time at NC State and since then had an admiration for the larger than life murals and urban masterpieces you often see in big cities or creativity placed throughout walk able neighborhoods.

I want to share some of my favorite pictures I’ve taken over the last 10+ years traveling internationally and domestically and would love to see what pictures you have to share if you too appreciate unconventional street art!

Taupo, New Zealand had creativity dripping from almost every building stretched along its quaint downtown. I think I spend and entire morning walking along the downtown eagerly looking for new pieces of artwork like the examples below!

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I love this picture, because everyone’s first reaction is “THAT’S A BIG BIRD!” But it’s actually just a mural and the cuff of my jacket makes it look like the bird is actually on my arm! This was one of those awkward moments when I was standing in a parking lot taking a selfie and no one around me knew what I was doing… Point of the story – if you have the opportunity for a great photo, go for it!

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This photo was taken just around the corner from the enormous bird selfie (above). I got to pretend I was a superhero for a few minutes and show off my powerful super hero punch (and super tight jeans.. RIP. Skinny Jeans).

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Some of my best friends and I all happened to be in Sydney at the same time and we took the opportunity to head to Bondi! Now that is a beach (even in the winter) I could spend all day at! Great people watching, cool shops and places to eat – and awesome picture opportunities with local artwork clearly geared for tourists like myself.

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You might recognize this picture from my Dallas post. Deep Ellum has a piece of my heart – and I cant wait to go back and see if any of the art has changed since my last visit.

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I was driving with my mom in downtown Phoenix one day, and I pulled over into the back of an empty building and had her snap this picture of these birds that inspired me (and happened to be ALMOST as busy as the shirt I was wearing).

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This is another favorite from my Dallas post…

TIRB2021And I love this picture I took in Queenstown, New Zealand (or it may have been Auckland) which looks like a giant postcard. I wish every city in the world had a postcard picture opportunity like this.. even if it did wish I weren’t there, haha.

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Melbourne, Australia has an awesome downtown area dedicated to street art as well! Above is a mashup of some of the art and creatures decorating the long alleyways of downtown.

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I spent a few mornings roaming Melbourne and could spend an entire week exploring the colorful sites and sounds that city has to offer!

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Not totally sure what was going on here – but I’m glad my outfit coordinated.

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And also not sure what is happening here – but I’m enjoying it.

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Art doesn’t have to be bold and bright to be beautiful – sometimes it just needs to make a point like these two pieces!

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Lastly this final mural is located directly next to a funeral home just miles from our home. I thought it was really random the day I found it riding my bike through downtown Willow Glen. But then I realized what it was facing and saw the real beauty in its purpose!

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And while this next piece isn’t exactly on its way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it still make me very happy! #LouisvilleAlumni

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If you ever have the chance to get to Grand Rapids, MI – they hold ART PRIZE every fall which is a beautiful display of artwork throughout the city. I go there every year for work at the tail end of the display and I’m always mesmerized by what people create! This mosaic painted piece was from years ago but I have saved this image because the eyes are so striking!

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Now these other pieces aren’t exactly murals are street art, but they were also on display in Grand Rapids and I loved experiencing them in person!

I’ve had friends recommend some awesome street art and free expression in San Francisco and other bay area spots. If you know of any, please send your recommendations my way! I’m hoping to stroll over to Santa Cruz soon and snap some pictures of art I’ve driven by and want to share!

As always, thanks for reading and please share some of your favorite pieces with me!