We seek out art for different reasons, to inspire us, to make us laugh, to give us a new perspective, or just to help us appreciate the beauty that exists all around us. Tempe is a city that showcases the arts, from live theatre to concerts to museum exhibitions. It’s also a place where art shows up in unexpected places. Check out the City of Tempe’s public art collection and you’ll be amazed at the creativity all around the city.
If you want to explore Tempe’s street art scene, we suggest hopping in your car for a self-guided driving tour of a few of our favorite Tempe murals. You can see all of these works of art from the road or a parking lot. And, if you practice social distancing, you can still get that perfect photo for Instagram.
Here is our suggested route and a bit more information about each mural and the artist who created it.
“Get Together Tempe” by Morgan Delaney (@____morganic)
We love this message now more than ever. With all of us staying at home a lot more these days, the message of “Get Together Tempe” is there to remind us that we will once again be reunited as a community. The mural is located on the west wall of Social Hall, a local favorite for cocktails and American and Southwestern fare.
We chatted with the Social Hall team to discuss how the mural came about. “The mural was designed for us by AWE Collective, a marketing company based in Tempe. We presented the design to Morgan [Delaney], as she was also local and worked at Four Peaks in Tempe, and she agreed to take on the project. The whole thing took about two weeks to complete. It involved me on a 25-foot scissor lift on my tip-toes taping off for the painters, which I will never forget,” says Mike Kenney, Owner/Operator of Social Hall. “The purpose for the mural was to turn a big ugly wall into something nice to look at. A lot of people told us we needed a sign out front so that people would know we existed, because we are really hidden from the street,” Kenney continues. “The problem I had with that was, okay let’s say we put up a Social Hall sign, well we still have an ugly wall. I don’t want to go to a place called Social Hall with a big blank wall out front. So instead we felt that turning it into a big piece of artwork would be more appreciated by the community and could still serve the purpose of letting people know we exist.” Well Mike, we LOVE it and can’t tell you enough how much we’re obsessed with it.
Before heading to happy hour, brunch or picking up a to-go order, catch yourself setting up your Insta-moment at “Get Together Tempe” at the Northeast corner of McClintock and University Drives.
“The Tempest Mural” by Erik Rennick
The Tempest Hotel Tempe at ASU underwent renovations and brand change in 2019 and with that, they wanted to introduce a cool feature at their hotel, a mural! Local artist Erik Rennick partnered with the owners of The Tempest in the concept and wanted to do something that was “so Arizona” and a welcome piece as guests enter the lobby. We love catching all the little details you can find in the mural piece (like native Arizona animals and the iconic Hole in the Rock trail) and think it’s just lovely when the sun sets daily upon it.
You’ll find this mural at The Tempe Hotel on University Drive between Dorsey Lane and McClintock Drive.
“Meet Me at Daley Park” by Jake Early (@jakeearly)
At 400 feet, Jake Early’s tribute to Tempe, “Meet Me at Daley Park,” showcases the city’s history and was painted in 2018. When Early was designing this mural, he connected with the neighborhood adjacent to the park that inspired the name of the mural. He really wanted to “create a digital history [timeline] of this neighborhood, at that time of the mural to roughly 100 years ago.” A notable part of the mural is the Arizona flag bookended by Pecan trees which would have been in the area. “Roughly 100 years ago, Arizona had just come into statehood, so my placement of Arizona flag is a nod to that,” says Early. He chuckles as he describes the history and how then “students were riding bikes and listening to music on wired earbuds, and now they’re listening on [Airpods].” Because the piece is so big and features many vignettes, the photo opportunities are endless! He painted this mural in 12 weeks after a couple of delays, including breaking his arm just nine days into the project! Fun fact: it was the City of Tempe’s second public mural commission.
Find this mural on College Avenue in between Broadway Road and Apache Boulevard next to the railroad tracks.
“AMERICA. AMERICAN. AMERICANS.” by Jake Early (@jakeearly)
This mural is literally a drive by or park and walk. Jake Early crossed paths with the couple who owns the home owning the wall where the mural is located. They weren’t a fan necessarily of the previous mural and wanted something more to their liking. When they reached out to Early to create their mural, they allowed his creative freedom, but requested that he made it “provocative.” Jake challenged himself with concepts and his idea hit to him with the release of a photo from the White House. Early said, it was a photo of a group of 40 men in suits and woman sitting with her feet up on the couch… in the Oval Office.” He thought to himself, “my friends and family don’t look like this.” So, he wanted to create a mural that spoke volumes and was politically motivated, and a mural that took him a mere four days to paint. (INSANE – those portraits are amazing!!) You’ll see three diverse individuals: his bi-racial nephew, his friend who is a Native American woman born here in Arizona and his Indian American friend who was born in Los Angeles. He loves this mural and hopes you’ll continue capture photos of it and tagging him on Instagram.
You’ll find this mural on Mill Avenue between 13th Street and Broadway across from Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital. You’ll want to pull into the neighborhood immediately next to the mural in order to safely park and capture a photo.
Jake Early just unveiled his latest mural at Broadmor Elementary School on March 6, 2020 right before Spring Break that he’d love for you to check out as well! https://www.instagram.com/p/B8xF9hrgORn/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link
“Woman in a Dream” by Clyde Thompson (@clyde_graffitiartist)
Clyde Thompson has become known for producing large scale murals featuring dreamy women and using shades of teal blue. This piece is the first of his Woman in a Dream series. We chatted with Clyde and got the scoop of this beautiful piece. “That was my first 2 story mural. It had caused a little trouble since it was done without permission. However, the owner of the University Inn liked it enough to keep it, and also hired me to paint a mural for one of his restaurants, which is how I began doing commissioned murals and pursuing art as a career.” He said “Woman in a Dream” was “painted in one day which is why it may come off as unfinished.” We think it’s incredible. Clyde mentioned he does do a lot of commissioned work, which you can see on his website, but what’s great for us is that he has many pieces located at the Danella Plaza on Mill Avenue and Southern Avenue.
This hidden gem is located at Mill Avenue and 9th Street on the back side of University Inn & Suites.
“Don’t Wake the Dreamer” by Lauren Lee (@mslaurenlee)
The artist of this piece, Lauren Lee, is sought out by businesses owners and city entities alike for incredible mural pieces of various sizes. You’ll find a sweet trend of beautiful birds and whimsical pink blooms amongst this popular muralist’s work. “Don’t Wake the Dreamer” is a 153-foot-long mural located at Hardy Drive and 5th Street in Tempe. What’s lovely about this and many murals in Tempe is how photogenic it is, and how many ways you can capture it. You can capture its beauty with a panoramic photo or frame your shot by the pink blooms, the Dreamer or the birds. The choice is yours. Fun fact: it was the City of Tempe’s first public mural commission.
You’ll find this mural along Hardy Drive, just south of 5th Street next to Jaycee Park. We recommend taking Hardy north from University Drive to see it on your right-hand side. You can’t miss it!
“You Are Amazing” by Jayarr (@jayarr.art)
Extra, extra! New on the mural scene is a vibrant mural with one important message: “You Are Amazing.” He is most known for putting this message on colorful triangles. He recently was contracted to create work that is printed on the interior and exterior of a Valley Metro Rail train.
You’ll find this mural adjacent to Jayarr’s studio on Beck Avenue south of University Drive at the corner of Beck Avenue and Laird Street.
We hope you enjoyed learning a bit more about these pieces and get an opportunity to see them and discover others along the way. Don’t forget to tag us in your photos @TempeTourism or use #OurTempe and #TempeMurals.