What is it about street art that’s so captivating? Is it the larger-than-life depiction of an artist’s vision that draws us in? Is it the local flavor that a blank canvas can convey once transformed? Since beauty is in the eye of the beholder, we’ll let you decide.
But in the meantime, we’re here to point you to some of the best street art in Phoenix — perfect for the next time you need to safely get out of the house for a dose of creative inspiration or fresh, local content for your social media feed.
Here are some of our favorite mural walls to check out:
It’s been a while since a tour bus pulled up to The Rebel Lounge, a music venue known for hosting up-and-coming acts as well as local favorites. However, this makes right now the perfect opportunity to see the music venue’s massive Arizona mural in all its glory.
Located on the east side of the building, this mural showcases the Superstition Mountains, painted by Tucson’s Joe Pagac, behind “ARIZONA.” For this collaboration, each of the following artists brought their signature style to the lettering: A, Ashley Macias; R, Josh "BASK" Brizuela; I, Joshua Rhodes; Z, Clay Halling; O, Andy Brown; N, Volar; A, JB Snyder.
From its inception in 2002, Barrio Cafe has been a space that celebrates flavor as well as culture. In fact, you can't talk about James Beard Award-nominated chef Silvana Salcido Esparza locally without mentioning her Calle 16 (Calle Diez Y Seis) Project, an organization established to elevate popular perceptions of Mexican American culture — most often through artwork. Before you even get a chance to try in infamous chiles en nogada or cochinita pibil, you will be greeted by Phoenix's most iconic mural wall, a collaborative effort by Gennaro Garcia, Lalo Cota, Breeze, Angel Diaz, Pablo Luna and more.
Located in the Roosevelt Row Arts District, Phoenix’s unofficial “Mural Alley” is actually more commonly referred to 1½ Street, and it’s almost hidden in plain sight. To find this wide swath of local flavor, just locate The Churchill building and head around back for the most city’s most vibrant alley.
From the area’s Indigenous roots and iconic cacti to imaginative landscapes and political themes, this collaborative effort extends the entire length of the alley, covering the walls and other fixtures with captivating works by 12 local artists: Isaac Caruso, Gabriel "Leter" Pecina, Nyla Lee, Volar, Tato Caraveo, Lucinda Y Hinojos, Josh "BASK" Brizuela, Thomas “Breeze” Marcus, Lalo Cota, Jane Goat, JJ Horner, and Jesse Perry.
One of downtown’s most recent additions, this Black Lives Matter-themed mural wall went up in June, amid peaceful marches for social justice. The mural is a composite of six individual works that depict both the bright and the dark sides of being Black in America, and is further unified by the flowers integrated throughout. Also check out more than two dozen new public pieces introduced as part of the Black History Month Mural Project.
In 2020, downtown Phoenix welcomed a nine-story installation of author and civil rights activist James Baldwin. Created by the talented local artist Antoinette Cauley, this piece features the bust of the Notes of a Native Son author surrounded by his words: "Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.
"Your light will forever illuminate the paths of Black Americans through the words you so graciously left us," writes Cauley in Dear Mr. Baldwin, a blog post that details the project that overlooks downtown Phoenix from side of the Ten-O-One building in the Roosevelt Row Arts District.
In a call to artists, the Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel chose local muralist Clyde to give the building’s west exterior wall (along Central Avenue) a makeover in his signature 3D, storytelling style. At first glance, the 144-foot mural, titled “Timeless,” will captivate you. On second and third glance, however, you might see it a little differently. That’s due to the ever-changing shadows cast from the overhanging shade structure. Each hour of the day, the mural changes as the sun moves across the sky. During the last few hours of sunlight, you can catch it shining directly onto the glass prism, held by the person in the painting, and the key inside comes to life with an indisputable glow.
Right around the corner from "Timeless," and just south of the Hilton Garden Inn Phoenix Downtown, you’ll find yourself standing in Melinda’s Alley (not to be confused with the speakeasy). Here, artists Darrin Armijo-Wardle and Hugo Medina painted “Malinda Rising,” a tribute to Malinda Curtis, one of the city's most colorful characters who lived in an apartment on the alley shared by the 1896-built Hotel Adams. She died Oct. 28, 1910, but her spirit is said to inhabit the alley to this day.
View from 151 N. Central Ave., Phoenix
Known for paying tribute to musical legends through her work, Phoenix artists Maggie Keane took her talents to the Grand Avenue Arts District in 2019 in the form of a perfectly purple Prince mural. Spanning one side of Rodriguez Boxing Gym, located at 15th Avenue and Roosevelt Street, this mural wall features four portraits, a silhouette, the artist's unmistakable symbol and, of course, several doves. You can also check out her 2016 David Bowies tribute in the Coronado neighborhood's Oak Street Alley (1713 N. Seventh St., Phoenix).
Stacy’s @ Melrose
A beacon for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies since 2013, Stacy’s @ Melrose is also now home to a mural wall that’s as loud and proud as the community itself. Located in the heart of the Melrose District — Phoenix’s “gayborhood” — this mural pairs an iconic desert landscape the largest set of wings in town. P.S. They’re rainbow. Created by Geremy Cites, this wall is highly visible on the building’s north side (if you’re approaching from the south, however, you might miss it). Because the bar is not currently open, you should have no trouble finding a parking spot. And don’t miss one of Phoenix’s two rainbow crosswalks, just a few steps away.