Arts & CultureCommunity CommentaryFeaturedFara IllichAugust 17, 2010
The abundance of murals in Downtown Phoenix have been beckoning me lately. I have driven by this mural for years but never stopped until recently. These murals are on the old Mercer Mortuary building on 16th Street, just south of Thomas; the newer part of the mortuary is around the corner. They were painted in 1998 by a Phoenix artist, Rose Johnson. She was born and educated in England and moved to the US when she was in her 20s, settling in Phoenix. Rose was well-known and respected in the local art community. In 1998, she moved to Bisbee, AZ, a small arts enclave in southern Arizona, but still had many ties to Phoenix. She was strongly influenced by Mexican art. Tragically, a little over a year ago, she died in Bali, where she had recently relocated, from acute alcohol poisoning as a result of ingesting liquor that had been laced with methanol. It was the 23rd such fatality to occur in Bali in a 10-day span. She was 48. This mural is one of her best-known works. You can read more about Rose here or see an interview of her while she still lived in Bisbee, soon after first visiting Bali. An extensive article appears here. If you click to make the images larger, you can see more of the interesting detail. We are fortunate that this mural survives as some of her local murals have been so extensively tagged that they have now been painted over.