Families and Kids

Murals in Tempe, Arizona – Part II

Welcome back art lovers!

You’re reading Part II of our Murals in Tempe, Arizona series. If you haven’t checked out Part I of the series, you can read that here.  

We can all use a little more inspiration these days and nothing inspires us more than the healing power of art. Tempe is beautiful community that is made even more so when local artists create public work that we can all enjoy.  

You can see all of these works of art from the road or a parking lot. Be sure to continue to practice social distancing so you can still get that perfect photo for Instagram. 

Here is our suggested route to check out these gorgeous murals in Tempe, along with more information about each artwork and the artist who created it. 

“Valley Rockstar Memorial” by Gina Ribaudo 

1992 E. Richards Dr., Tempe, AZ 85283

Gina Ribaudo created the Valley Rockstar Memorial in Tempe in summer 2020. This mural was commissioned by the homeowner, Tommy Gwinn, who wanted to create a tribute to artists who left an imprint on rock music and had a connection to the Phoenix area. It took a few weeks to complete this 55 ft. long mural, due to the summer heat and Gina’s attention to detail. Each of the five portraits took approximately 8 hours to complete. Mind. Blown.  

While out painting in this South Tempe neighborhood, she really “enjoyed the time [she] spent painting this mural and getting to meet the locals” who would talk to her as they passed on a walk or bike ride. She says, “I always find the people of Tempe to be so kind and down to earth.”  

You’ll find other works by Ribaudo in her former home front, Seattle, but also throughout the Phoenix area. Another notable Tempe location for an @ilovemurals sighting is her work as part of Rock Legends at Tempe Marketplace. This public art display inspired the partnership between Gwinn and Ribaudo. She loves that Tempe is a “lively town with so much to do” and that there’s some historical elements which remind her of Seattle. “My inspiration always comes from looking for ways to use vibrant color and expressive brush strokes to show the colorful personalities of the people I’m painting.” 

The Valley Rockstar Memorial includes local legends Vince Welnick of the The Grateful Dead, Glen Buxton of the Alice Cooper Band, Doug Hopkins of the Gin Blossoms, Chester Bennington from Linkin Park, and Mike Condello, who was a local musician and appeared on the long-running Wallace and Ladmo Show. 

Danelle Plaza

3400 S. Mill Ave., Tempe, AZ 85282 

Have you checked out Danelle Plaza on the southwest corner of Mill Avenue and Southern? Danelle Plaza is an aged plaza turned art hub, an on-going initiative to build awareness about its unique history. The Danelle Project was created to support its authentic local arts and music scene.  

You’ll find long standing hot spots like Yucca Tap Room, that opened as a bar and live music venue in the 70s, Rocket a Go~Go, a funky vintage store, and Double Nickle Collective, where you can find vinyl records, books, vintage clothing and other cool stuff.  

When we spoke with the artists who created works at Danelle Plaza, they both said that we had to speak with Robert Moore. Moore was the person who really kick started the idea to fill Danelle Plaza with murals and art installations and he helped secure some funding for the project.  

Moore described Danelle Plaza as an understated place with two distinct personalities. In the daytime, you can easily find the murals and capture photos, but the plaza transforms at night when the vacant store windows light up with LED lights bringing these murals to life. Planning and fundraising for this art project started in 2016 and became a reality in January 2018. It is an ongoing project.  Murals and art installations are frequently added and switched out.  

Both Rodney Hu (owner of Yucca Tap Room) and Evan Liggins (of Tempe Art A Gogh-Gogh, a live music and artist event at Yucca) recently won City of Tempe Arts & Culture awards for their contributions to the community. Here two of the many pieces you can find at Danelle Plaza. 

Dreams on Pause by Clyde Thompson 

Clyde Thompson explains that Dreams on Pause was painted during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic. “Though everyone was in panic, I wanted to paint something that suggested that these times are an opportunity to reflect and reset,” Thompson shares.  Describing the mural, “I painted this man laid out in a relaxed state using his basketball as a pillow. You’ll see an arrow shot through the basketball signifying his love for the game. He had been grinding for a long time to achieve his dream of being a professional basketball player. However, now he gets an opportunity to sit back and smell the flowers.” That’s a message we can all understand right now. The more you know. You’ll see this 65’ x 20’ mural best when you drive east along Southern Avenue. It’s on the south side of the road near the car wash west of Mill Avenue.   

“Amazed Baby” by Lucretia Torva

Amazed Baby is one of the many featured murals in Danelle Plaza. It’s located on a vacant building that was destined for tear down. When approached by the committee commissioning the artists, they asked Lucretia is she could paint a street view of Mill Avenue. But, she decided to propose this piece with a baby, and they LOVED it. She was thrilled because she was able to combine her love of pop art and comic art which is clearly translated in this piece. It’s also a great excuse to use bright colors and random words, like “WOW!”  

You’ll find some of her work throughout neighboring cities like “Sharing Happiness” in Mesa. In Tempe, she painted a utility box on the northeast corner of Rio Salado Pkwy. and Mill Ave. Her work is also featured on Tempe Public Library cards.

Most notably, she was the commissioned artist who worked with Gina Ribaudo to paint the portraits that make up Tempe Marketplace’s Rock Legends. Her most photographed legend is Mexican American musician Selena Quintanilla-Perez.  

She commends Tempe Marketplace’s foresight for having her and Gina Ribaudo paint the musicians’ portraits on canvas so they can be moved as retail occupancy changes.  

“Woman in a Dream III” by Clyde Thompson 

1700 S. College Ave., Tempe, AZ 85281

Woman in a Dream III was Clyde Thompson’s first commissioned Woman in a Dream mural. The previous two had been street art installations. Thompson was “on a mission” to show his hometown city the potential of murals. Dream III was the first mural he spent more than one day on and really showcases how impactful large-scale artwork can be. Thompson says, “my ultimate goal is to get these murals up to 10 stories tall.” We’re rooting for you, Clyde! Woman in a Dream III was completed in 2017 on the Montage Apartments, which are painted with retro vibrant colors that match Thompson’s color scheme perfectly.

”Rangoli Sunrise” by Kyllan Maney 

The Dhaba | 1827 E. Apache Blvd., Tempe, AZ 85281 

Zoom calling with Kyllan Maney was the epitome of all things #WFH during COVID. We chatted and conquered some technical issues, said “can you hear me?” about a half dozen times and more importantly we laughed and enjoyed talking about a city we love so much.  

Her “Rangoli Sunrise” mural is located at The Dhaba, a wonderful restaurant serving incredible Indian food. The owner, Raveen Arora, hired Maney to paint Rangolis near the restaurant’s entrance, and he also found funding for the beautiful mural on the west exterior wall of the building. He even gave her a book about Rangolis so she could find a design and meaning that she thought would resonate. Maney said the base of the Rangoli that she chose means truth and knowledge.   

At 20’ by 60’, it was Maney’s biggest mural to date, and she enjoyed the challenge of painting such a large and intricate piece or work.  

During our conversation, we discussed life during quarantine and how in order to stay sane, she likes to drive around with her family and look at public art in Tempe and Phoenix. This New School for the Arts’ teacher has a unique signature style that’s easily recognizable. She was commissioned to paint the Big Chair in Downtown Tempe and you’ll also see one of her first pieces in Danelle Plaza.  

El Valle del Sol by Champ and Such Styles 

Tempe Marketplace | 2000 E. Rio Salado Pkwy., Tempe, AZ 85281

Arizona natives and Tempe-based artists Champ Styles and his idol/dad, Such Styles, are known for their incredible graffiti art. Their work can be seen throughout the Greater Phoenix area like many of our featured artists. Their latest permanent installation at Tempe Marketplace was completed in mid-June 2020. This mural took 8 hours for Champ and Such to complete and it pays homage to their hometown, Tempe. As Tempe natives, they wanted to depict the city with a graffiti-era vibe. #GoDevils  

The father and son duo have a few cultural murals in the town of Guadalupe, as well as a couple of installations at Tempe’s Rise on Apache. Champ also has mural of his own in Danelle Plaza (quite the hotspot, as we mentioned). You can find their murals at the New School for the Arts, too. Champ has been watching his dad, Such, share his graffiti art since he was a toddler. Some of his favorite murals in Tempe are ones his dad completed in the 80s.  

Be sure to show your Tempe and Sun Devil pride at this mural while you’re out shopping, dining or enjoying their entertainment at Tempe Marketplace. PLEASE NOTE: Masks are required in all public spaces and all retail shops at Tempe Marketplace until further notice, per city and county mandates and mall policy. 

We asked our artists all one question: What do you think embodies Tempe? Here are some of their answers: 

Ready to explore Tempe? We’re encouraging you to check out Tempe’s public art scene and tag us in your photos. Remember to pack a mask or two if you want to make some outfit changes 😉 

Don’t forget to follow us on social media and tag us on your posts. @tempetourism #ourtempe #tempemurals  

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Rachel Semik
Written Rachel Semik

Lover of all things social media and staying in the know, you'll find Content Strategist/ASU Alumni, Rachel out devouring ice cream sandwiches and tasting her way through Tempe's margarita scene.

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