The oldest mural along 16th street is “Prayer of St. Francis,” painted in 1998 by the late Rose Johnson. Located at Thomas Road, the six-panel mural depicts the cultural evolution of the Coronado community and includes inspirational quotes from Benito Juarez and St. Francis of Assisi. Over the years, it’s become a beloved street art icon, but it’s also been eroded by wind, bleached by the sun, and defaced by vandals.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
The Valley has a roster of artists with a strong Arizona-themed repertoire, but Frank Ybarra – whose paintings adorn many posters and billboards trumpeting the Centennial – is uniquely suited to paint a fresh face on the state’s 100th birthday.
novelist and teacher
James Sallis is a Renaissance man. Over the years, he’s worked as a musician, poet, translator, biographer, essayist, critic, magazine editor, creative writing teacher at Phoenix College and ASU, licensed respiratory therapist and science-fiction writer. For decades, he was also the best-kept secret in crime fiction – until his 2005 novel Drive was adapted into the acclaimed 2011 noir flick starring Ryan Gosling. Set in Phoenix, Sallis’ latest novel, The Killer Is Dying, is an oddly moving page-turner about a hit man’s last days. Driven, his sequel to Drive, will be published by Scottsdale’s Poisoned Pen Press in April. We caught up with the Arkansas-born Sallis, 66, at a favorite coffeehouse, across a battered wooden table obviously AWOL from an interrogation room.
ARTIST OF THE MONTH
Richard B. Hall is an artist with a sense of humor. Case in point: The oil can. While returning from a long road trip to Texas one day, the Mesa artist pulled over to the side of the road to relieve himself. Standing there, he spotted an old oil can beside a tree. That unassuming piece of refuse instantly captured his imagination and later became a prop for a painting.
When Phoenix artist and preservation advocate Michael Levine shelled out $5,500 for 890 highway signs at a state surplus auction in 1999, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do with them. Call it venture capitalism.
But as Arizona’s Centennial drew near, the investment paid off: In August, Levine took about 450 of the signs and, over six days, fastened them to the wall of his warehouse near Grant and Seventh streets, creating a gigantic 1912-2012 mural.