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New Downtown Mural Promotes Art, Activity, Awareness

by Fara Illich
Arts & Culture Business Development Community Featured Fara Illich December 9, 2016

Andy Brown Mural

Local artist Andy Brown began work on the shipping container mural Dec. 1 and will be finished by Christmas. (Photo: Lauren Potter)

Downtown Phoenix Inc. (DPI) installed several painted pots in July to break up an empty ASU-owned lot along First Avenue, just west of Civic Space Park.

Very soon, a colorful new shipping container mural by local artist Andy Brown will join them.

Through a partnership between DPI, Arizona State University and the I Have a Name Project, the goal is to activate the empty lot at 372 N. First Avenue while it’s waiting to be developed — while also raising awareness about the local homeless community.

I Have a Name Project uses visual art and storytelling to provide a voice for the voiceless – individuals living on the streets or in shelters, often facing addiction problems, mental illness, physical limitations or just a bad set of circumstances.

“We all strive for purpose and understanding — to see and to be seen,” said Jon Linton, founder of I Have a Name Project. “I believe art can help move that vision along.”

DPI launched a Homeless Outreach program at the beginning of December, which is an extension of the Downtown Phoenix Ambassador services. So the partnership and theme of the mural was a perfect fit, according to Samantha Jackson, vice president of operations at DPI.

“Our community shouldn’t turn a blind eye on homelessness, we need to recognize each human who doesn’t have a home,” she said. “That’s what we’re striving to do with our efforts downtown.”

DPI also worked with ASU on a vacant lot activation in 2015 called The Space Between, a pocket park between Valley Youth Theatre and Taylor Place. Work on the current project began Dec. 1, and will be completed before Christmas.