Sunflowers, Orchids, and Birds

These sunflowers are on the back of monOrchid, a gallery I’ve written about before in downtown Phoenix. They are done by a new-to-me muralist, Isaac N. Caruso. He just recently graduated from Northern Arizona University with a BFA in Visual Communication and he is making his presence known in Phoenix now.

You can see the grasshopper from my last post here.

I could only photograph from outside the fence so the chainlinks are smudging up some of these photos.

This mural honors, of course, the Valley of the Sunflowers, a couple of blocks away which is now in its final harvest (you can see a slideshow of the harvest here).

The reason that this mural is currently fenced in is because this burned out historic building is being restored.

I went around to another side of monOrchid that I had photographed before and there was Isaac N. Caruso himself putting some finishing touches on the orchid.

He also painted the bird for the brand new Songbird Coffee & Tea House, which is in the front of monOrchid.

(This is Songbird’s photo above.)

I think we are going to be seeing a lot more of Isaac on the walls of Phoenix.

*Update: I guess Isaac liked the photos because he is now using the second one from the bottom as his profile pic on his Facebook page. Cool.



Best time to shoot the moon handheld? Daytime! I love when the moon is out in the day.

Best place to have a cup of coffee while you mural-watch?

White Sage Espresso on Calle 16! Plus one of the owners is a psychic and I heard they did a ritualistic burning of white sage upon moving into this quaint 1920’s bungalow. Too bad they’re not open on Sundays, though.

Best place to watch snacks on wings (which they rarely try to actually catch, fortunately)?

“In the shade of the silk oak tree,” says Grady, perfectly camouflaged.

Her sister, Stripey, concurs.

Best place (not) to take a nap when it’s over 100 out? Leave it to Google.

Best thing to accompany my Lalo Cota paintings?

Breeze’s Monarch, which is now mine! Since they collaborate so much, I felt I needed a piece by Thomas Breeze Marcus, too.

Best tequila bottles ever for someone who loves Day of the Dead stuff? Kah! They cost a bundle, though. Fun website, too.

One of America’s best colleges/universities?

Arizona State University, my alma mater! Also the biggest public university campus in the US? Arizona State University’s Tempe Campus with a 2011 fall enrollment of 59,794! And that is just one of 4 ASU campuses in the metro Phoenix area. Total 2011 ASU enrollment? 72,254…making it the largest public university in the US by enrollment. These photos were taken at the downtown Phoenix campus, which did not exist yet when I went to ASU decades ago.

Best app for making a mediocre photo kinda funky? Poladroid, as seen in the 2nd photo of this post.

Day of the Dead

I’m posting this just as it becomes Halloween. Halloween and the Day of the Dead are not related but they both involve the Christian All Saints’ Day (on November 1) and All Souls’ Day (on November 2). In a city like Phoenix, with a strong Mexican tradition, Halloween and Día de los Muertos sort of get thrown together. In most regions of Mexico, November 1 honors children and infants, whereas deceased adults are honored on November 2. This is indicated by generally referring to November 1 mainly as Día de los Inocentes (“Day of the Innocents”)  and November 2 as Día de los Muertos (“Day of the Dead”). It’s not really a sad event but more of a celebration of past lives and it’s not supposed to be a scary day either but some people not familiar with the holiday do find the skulls and skeletons a little creepy. But you probably know all this…

I love Day of the Dead art so I was happy to notice this sculpture on a business just about a 1/2 mile from my house. Since it’s on a busy street and also on the roof of the building, I could never get a good look at it while driving by and I thought it was a pioneer woman or something.

That didn’t make sense because it’s on a Mexican tile business.

Finally, one day I got a good look as I was able to slow down while passing by.

Cool! A Day of the Dead sculpture close to home! You can imagine my excitement.

I hope you didn’t get too scared, haha. I know I said it’s not supposed to be a spooky holiday but I couldn’t resist.

I didn’t get to any official celebrations of Day of the Dead this weekend but I did go back to Calle 16, which I wrote about again a few days ago (the first photo is from there). Today there were no cars so I was able to get some unobstructed views of the murals portraying Day of the Dead art.

She’s really beautiful, I think.

And he’s pretty handsome (both by Lalo Cota). These 2 additional murals by Lalo that I just recently photographed and blogged about are some of my favorites.

Here’s another shot at Calle 16, taken today.

The best part of all this is that Phoenix is pretty much filled with Day of the Dead art all year long.

So…Happy Halloween or Feliz Día de los Muertos, whichever you celebrate…or both. I did read an article where some people were claiming you should not wish someone a Happy Day of the Dead but several other people, including Mexicans, said they do it. So…

Sugar Skulls by Irma Sanchez at Perc Up, a local coffeehouse.

Lotta Latte

When Between Us

Ana Cristina Cesar

When between us there was just
a letter certain to come
the train the tracks
the window open
a certain landscape
without stones or
my high heel
the glass of water
the wait for coffee

I’ve posted that poem before on my blog, almost 2 years ago, but I like it and there aren’t that many poems that mention coffee so it’s back. The arabica coffee plant that I mentioned and photographed in that earlier post is now dead, sadly. They are hard to grow and it hung in there for a few months with constant misting but that wasn’t quite enough. So we won’t be growing our own coffee beans. Tony is, however, roasting his own beans now (in addition to buying his beans online from Peet’s).

The above latte and mocha are from Lola, “a hip local hangout with a fresh vibe” in downtown and uptown Phoenix.