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The muralist, vehicle painter and graffiti maestro Javier Cordova has a core specialty: lettering. Cordova, who grew up in South Phoenix and goes by “Spawk,” sprays and brushes scripts around Phoenix, often tagging his curvaceous letters on murals and vehicles with gold leaf. His work appears in skate parks, bars, barbershop windows and even Phoenix Suns murals. But you’d never know it. Spawk doesn’t sign his work. “I’m doing it for me,” he says. “If...

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Watercolorist and oil painter Rachel Eskandari began her art career with the same whimsy that now pervades her vibrant botanical forms. As a teenager, she went into her sister’s room, tore a page off the easel there and brushed on an acrylic ballerina. “I was surprised by how it turned out,” says Eskandari, who was born and raised in the Valley. Today, she paints everything from stickers to murals. And yet, Eskandari does more. She...

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When the pandemic first shuttered Phoenix, Aileen Martinez began painting places she missed. An ongoing series was born, in which Martinez portrays buildings around town, giving them character, ebullient color and a deep sense of longing. Her Crescent Ballroom has airy brown bricks and pastel accents, fringed by palm trees so loose the green spills from their leaf outlines, tops almost seeming to waver. Her Pizzeria Bianco stands wistfully empty under a pink sky, structural...

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By the time painter and illustrator Shela Yu was 11, she was drawing fairies and mermaids on her bedroom walls. Today, most of the 32-year-old Chinese American artist’s work lives in sketchbooks, PDF files and as murals emblazoned on building façades. Her painting has a kinetic yet calming energy. “I like watching clouds move across the sky,” she says. “I like the way incense smoke scatters across the room. There’s a natural movement that I...

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Lizzy Lubitsky has made sculptures shown from Rome to Washington state. Many push the limits of what sculpture can be. Consider “Toast.” The 2015 installation featured a patch of pine wood afloat in a full bathtub – where Lubitsky sat in a swimsuit. On the plank was a toaster. The toaster was electrified, plugged into a nearby wall. Lubitsky, a 25-year-old interdisciplinary artist, fell for sculpture at Temple University’s Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia,...

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The words “dinner plate” may conjure visions of dainty, white and uniformly round china. In her North Phoenix home studio, Brazilian-born ceramist Christiane Barbato breaks from this bland dinner plate of yesteryear completely. “I’m the daughter of an engineer, and my dad criticizes my style because he likes everything round or square,” Barbato says. “But I love organic shapes because they remind me of nature. My dream is always to get the glazes of natural...

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Tempe artist Jayarr Steiner is screaming, but not with his vocal cords – rather, with his “Treeple,” ink portraits of ethereal woman-tree hybrids, bent in wispy mid-yoga poses, and “Humanities,” tiny, emoji-like people of all ages and races who color the frames. His artistic voice finds further, full-throated expression in his YOU ARE AMAZING concept: florid, ebullient, spray-painted boards and facades with the phrase at center, already viral on Instagram and TikTok. Steiner, who has...

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Julia Fournier owns the building that houses The Hive, a compound of creative micro businesses on Cypress and 16th Streets. Eight businesses hum within, connected by a central courtyard with a small stage. Fournier runs two of the Hive’s sub-spaces, The Bee’s Knees (a boutique) and its gallery, which features a new art show every Third Friday. In short, Julia keeps a small shop yet also collects rent from her fellow small business owners.  ...

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Rosaura “Chawa” Magaña sits in a parked car, window down, smiling, hoisting books and a giant bottle of hand sanitizer. This image recently appeared on social media posts by Palabras Bilingual Bookstore, which Magaña has run for nearly five years. At her Spanish-and-English shop, you can find the work of contemporary Mexican novelists, indigenous poets, baby book authors who pen books like one on frybread, and other forward-thinking writers. These days, Magaña drives ordered books...