Art in the Heritage District – Murals: Stop 20-21
As we wrap up this part of the “tour” on murals, keep in mind the long-lasting effects of art in communities. Art reflects the people and their past and can be a beacon for what the future might bring. The last two murals to be highlighted are popular ones. Stop 20 is at The Art House Gilbert, located at 36 N Gilbert Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85234 – on the west side of Gilbert Rd, north of Elliot.
Owned by Gilbert resident Valerie McKiernan, The Art House website says that she:
wanted a space for creativity and art to come together in a pleasing and on trend environment where people could come and gather to make memories and have a great time…My hopes are for The Art House to flourish and be a place for young and old to enjoy themselves and make lasting memories right here in the heart of Gilbert.
This mural gets a ton of traction with the locals. And one can see why – its simple and current message evokes pride and reflects the locale in a fun, stylish way.
Stop 21 is the mural at our very own HD South, created as a project for the Gilbert Leadership Program. Dani Kahn, a member of the class that created it and an incredible artist in our community, describes it more in detail below. She said that “over 30 kids helped fill in all the colors over the course of 5 hours!”
1) What is the importance of a mural?
The HD South mural depicts simplified historical symbols relevant to the growth of Gilbert. Each section of the wall is dedicated to the technological advancements Gilbert took to become the thriving town it is today. While the mural does not directly answer questions, it leaves an impression on those who pass. It’s to spark conversation about: “What does a train depot have to do with the Town?” “Who was Bobby Gilbert?” “Why was Gilbert called the Hay Shipping Capital of the World?”
2) Why did you/your group choose the elements to include that you did?
Gilbert, Arizona has a rich history of building something from nothing. Our goal was to show where and what Gilbert grew from to now, 2020. The mural features hay, cotton, horses, a representation of the first Train Station, the train, Liberty Market (the first super market), the thriving foodie culture in the Heritage District, the iconic Water Tower, our state bird and flower, the air plane field, and the Gilbert Leadership class seal. All these symbols make up what Gilbert is today and will continue to grow upon.
3) What impact do you think your mural has on the community?
The mural draws attention to the museum that is commonly overlooked on that busy street corner of Gilbert and Elliot. Many museum goers enjoy a contemporary, simplified look at the Gilbert History before entering the museum of priceless antiques and timeless, complex, classical art.
4) What other murals, depicting what content, would you love to see in Gilbert?
I would love to see more murals accentuating the hard-working farmers of the past who lived in Gilbert during the early 1900’s. There is an element of the American dream that Gilbert exploded from. Determination, immense discipline, and strong moral values. I believe showing more of the original families in murals and glorifying their names would show the newer residents that they are only experiencing and living in this vibrant community because of these tenacious people.
Research is showing that murals have many benefits for a community including positive impacts on people’s mental health as well as social, cultural, and economic boosts for the people in the area. Check out the several murals in the Heritage District and consider what impact they have on your life here in the valley. If you are a resident or work in Gilbert, take stock of how the murals reflect our history and pull us into the future with beauty, compassion, and fortitude. Murals are gifts to the community – to help us remember where we came from and to remind us of our strength moving forward.
Community Rejuvenation Project – A Pavement to Policy Mural Arts Organization. “Benefits of Murals.” https://crpbayarea.org/painting/benefits-of-murals/
Kahn, Dani. “Re: Article Insight.” Message to Elaine Kessler. 14 May 2020. E-mail.
Kessler, Elaine. “Downtown Gilbert Murals.” Elaine Kessler Photography. 2020. https://www.elainekesslerphotography.com
The Art House Gilbert. “Owner.” 31 January 2017. http://arthousegilbert.com/about/owner/