Calle 16 (on 16th Street and Thomas in central Phoenix) is a huge, collaborative project that is still in progress. It was only started last fall and already, the buildings and alleys in that area are full of vibrant color and content.
Because there is so much to see and because I took so many photos, I’ve combined them into a few collages that you can enlarge if you want to see more detail.
This first mural is at the end of a row of buildings that houses, among other things, the excellent Barrio Cafe. It is the Barrio Cafe’s owner, Silvana Salcido Esparza, who started Calle 16 after Arizona gained (once again) negative national attention with SB1070. “The eyes of the world and the nation are on us because of the mess caused by SB1070, and we don’t have our shit together,” says Esparza. “With Calle 16, I’m not looking to make a little Mexico. I want a center of pride and culture that reflects who we are as Mexicans living in Arizona. And that’s going to start with a few murals.”
Esparza was influenced as a child by seeing many of the famous Mexican muralists’ works in Mexico City, including Diego Rivera, Jose Orozco, and David Siqueiros. You can read about Calle 16’s start here.
Down the alley behind this plaza, you come upon many more brilliant murals.
Calle 16 has its own website. Be sure to check out the fun video about the project at the bottom of this page under the list of muralistas (if it doesn’t make you happy, nothing will). In fact, several of the muralistas listed are ones whose other murals I have photographed and written about here, including the late Rose Johnson (whose large mural is just across the street and was the mural that started my interest in photographing all of them), Joerael Elliott, Pablo Luna, and Randy Kinkel, in addition to several more.
With my hiatus from photographing murals due to the holidays and then getting a little off-track, Calle 16 could not have been a better project to renew my interest (“building community, one wall at a time”) and I can’t wait to see more but this will be hard to beat.