by Blake Herzog
Top photo by Bob Shanks
Ancient humans told stories and communicated by painting on walls and boulders.
Today, murals grace interior and exterior walls and ceilings of churches, schools, homes, public buildings, businesses, theaters, park walls and any other large vertical surface people can touch with their paint brushes.
Today, their visual language can have links to street art and graffiti, but nearly all are done with the permission of the property owner and in some cases are used to deter graffiti.
Prescott has many indoor and outdoor murals, including one by artist Paul Coze hanging since 1963 in the City Council chambers, but its future is uncertain as the municipal government moves to its new City Hall on Montezuma Street.
A downtown mural effort and the artists who spearheaded it helped inspire other artists and community members to add more supersized, vibrant murals around the heart of “Everybody’s Hometown.” They envelop residents and visitors with depictions of the past, present and future.
Here’s a sampling:
“Granite Creek Mural Project” (2001)
on Granite Creek Trail just south of the Gurley Street Bridge
This was the first major work produced by the Prescott Downtown Mural Project (PMAP), which was formed to discourage graffiti and went on to produce hundreds of murals of all sizes. Researched and painted by Mile High Middle School students and patterned after the Yavapai emergence story, the 60-foot-long mural is tucked below street level but gives a comprehensive overview of the Yavapai story and the town’s development along the creek.
“Art for All” (2007)
109 N. Granite St. (next to downtown parking garage)
This was the first official collaboration by the Mural Mice in conjunction with the Prescott Downtown Mural Project (PMAP), both led by artist R.E. Wall. It covers the history of all forms of art in the Prescott area including pioneer contributions, vaudeville, the historic Elks Theatre, 4th of July parades and is a who’s who of artists, writers and performers with local ties including Kate Cory, George Phippen, Tom Mix and Sharlot Hall.
“Music of Nature” (2010)
Acker Park, 421 S. Virginia St.
The Mural Mice and community crew covered the restroom building at this park south of downtown with colorful wildlife, plants and children enjoying the beauty of Prescott while incorporating the image of a violin and the hands playing it to honor the legacy of J.S. Acker who preserved the park and inspired Acker Night.
“Heroes Mural” (2013)
Ocean Blue Car Wash, 1310 Iron Springs Road
Painted by local artist Julie Hutchins on a block wall adjacent to the Pioneers Cemetery, the mural portrays the Granite Mountain Hotshots firefighters lost in the Yarnell Hill wildfire of 2013, along with police and other first responders.
Whiskey Row Alley, just south of Gurley Street
A centerpiece of the improvements being made to the strip behind historic Whiskey Row painted by Hutchins and Dana Cohn in the style of an old-time postcard, each letter standing for one aspect of Prescott life.