Phoenix Mural Art Transforming Roosevelt District

Author: Jeff Insel

Gondola and SwanI’ve always been intrigued and interested in capturing photos of some of the graffiti and mural art that’s visible around the downtown Phoenix area. I finally got motivated to do just that while participating in a “Photo Walk” in the Roosevelt Row area a few weeks ago. We met at 9:00 a.m. near Garfield St and 5th Street, just south of Roosevelt Street. Within just a couple of square blocks there is enough street art to keep you occupied for a few hours. I had wanted to work with my 50mm prime and just see what I could do with that. However, I later switched to my 18-200 mm for the wider angle and zoo opportunities.  Of course the crop factor is 1.5 with my Sony A65.  Many of the murals take up whole walls, a couple two stories tall. The art is not only found on buildings, but on dumpsters, trash cans, signs and even storage containers – now being used to set up small, temporary galleries on Roosevelt. I really like the bright colors, and the clever use of space, my favorite being a black and white figure painted on a door, with a metal security gate painted to look like a jail cell – see photo.

With the temperatures starting to rise and earlier sunrise times I would recommend starting at 7:00 – 8:00 a.m.  I’d also keep it simple and just carry an 18-70 or 18-200 lens and avoid carrying everything while spending a few hours wandering the few blocks with a heavy backpack. It’s a fun way to start a weekend morning when you’re thinking about what to do with your day.

Jeff Insel is an Arizona Highways Photo Workshop trip leader.