Artists and community members have reacted in recent weeks to learning that a trio of murals in Roosevelt Row will be lost during renovations happening at the monOrchid building.
Julian Wright, who heads Fork & Dagger Hospitality, is bringing three food concepts to the mixed-use space at 214 East Roosevelt Street, where early changes are already underway.
The renovations will include covering murals by three artists based in metro Phoenix: Andy Brown, Kyllan Maney, and JB Snyder.
JB Snyder painted this mural at monOrchid, where renovations are underway.
For Snyder, Wright’s plans came as a surprise. “I’ve had that wall for 10 years,” he says. “No one told me this was happening.”
“Was bummed to find out they are painting over this wall via new times. Never contacted by the new developers. The first time I painted It was in 2008. This is the third rendition. Nothing is permanent, but still bummed out.”
Dozens of people responded, with comments expressing surprise, sadness, and outrage. One suggested Snyder start a petition to try and save the mural. Others decried True North Studio, the developer who purchased the monOrchid building several years ago.
Wright says he plans to have work by local artists in his monOrchid restaurants, which will include Kähvi Coffee, Sake Haus, and Pedal Haus. So far, the specifics haven’t been announced.
Like Snyder, Brown says he wasn’t contacted about the fact that renovations would affect his work. Brown recalls painting his top-down view of a man riding a bike on an east wall at monOrchid in 2010, when the building was owned by artist Wayne Rainey.
Now, he’s thinking about the larger implications of murals being lost to development. “It’s short-sighted,” says Brown. “It’s indicative of what’s happening in Phoenix, which will let go of its history or points in time to have a branded effort.”
Part of Kyllan Maney’s mural work painted at monOrchid in Roosevelt Row.
Kyllan Maney says she’s been expecting the changes at monOrchid, where her murals with symmetrical designs are located on an east-facing parking lot and two adjacent walls.
“We knew that project wouldn’t last forever,” she says of painting the piece for Rainey several years ago. “Wayne wanted to create an event space, but I knew it would eventually become something else because that’s the nature of monOrchid.”
Several additional murals have been painted at monOrchid through the years. Some, including Brian Boner’s birds in flight on a west-facing wall and Isaac Caruso’s sunflowers on a north-facing wall, are still there. A mural by Douglas Miles was covered when Sky Black painted his pink scene of a dystopian future Phoenix.
Other developments have led to murals being lost in recent years.
When developers demolished a building just east of monOrchid, they tore down an iconic bird mural by Lauren Lee, then commissioned her to make the trio of birds you’ll find on that apartment complex today.
When developers tore down a carwash to make way for the Starbucks at Roosevelt Street and Seventh Avenue, they demolished one of Lalo Cota’s murals that cast sombreros as flying saucers over desert skies.
“Artists are resilient creatures,” says Brown. “All this that happens just teaches us to be more creative and forces us to grow.”
Snyder has a different take: “Fuck Phoenix!” he says.
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