Young artist graces Commonwealth Canal with mural The Chandler Arizonan

Young artist graces Commonwealth Canal with mural

Young artist graces Commonwealth Canal with mural
City News

By Kevin Reagan
Arizonan Staff Writer

A colorful mural designed by a Chandler High School graduate is in the process of being added to the landscape of downtown Chandler.

Ariana Enriquez, who last week earned an art degree from Arizona State University, has begun working on a 225-foot-long mural between the San Marcos Resort’s southern wall and the northside of SanTan Brewing Company.

The 68-inch-tall mural runs adjacent to the Commonwealth Canal, which has been delivering water through Chandler since 1912.

The aqueous surroundings inspired the mural’s aesthetic, Enriquez said, as the artist aimed to illustrate how water replenishes the desert ecosystem.

The mural is covered with hummingbirds and bumble bees pollinating cactus flowers against a vibrant backdrop of watery waves and sunny skies.

The idea was to present water as a nourishing, vital element that allows the desert’s beauty to continuously thrive, the artist said.

Much of Enriquez’s prior work explores how nature can be used to symbolize human relationships.

Her paintings and drawings often incorporate floral designs that are meant to serve as metaphors for experiences Enriquez has observed and felt in the modern world.

“I may paint sunflowers, peonies and forget-me-nots, but what I am really trying to tell you is that I am feeling joyous, fortunate and steadfast,” the artist said in a 2018 interview.

Enriquez, who graduated from Chandler High in 2012, was one of 14 artists to submit mural designs to the city of Chandler, which has been commissioning local artists to beautify the downtown region for several months.

Enriquez’s submission was ultimately selected due to how it incorporated physical elements of the surrounding area into the mural’s design, said Kim Moyers, the city’s cultural development director.   

“Downtown Chandler continues to add art and cultural amenities to attract and keep our residents and visitors coming back again and again,” Moyers stated. “This mural connects the downtown to the award-winning Commonwealth Canal, enriching pedestrians’ experiences and invoking conversations.”

Enriquez also is one of 10 artists painting utility boxes around northern Chandler as part of a public art project supported by the city. Each artist could bring their own idea for painting a box.

The boxes represent a wide variety of artistic styles ranging from abstract shapes to whimsical portraits of desert animals — each meant to capture a different aspect of Chandler’s history and culture.

Enriquez’s box, located at the intersection of Warner Road and Arizona Avenue, features a floral design painted around the portrait of an ostrich — an icon of Chandler’s pioneering days when several city founders owned ostrich farms.

The back of the box depicts a cactus wren perched upon a jumble of prickly pear cactus.

The inclusion of Arizona’s state bird was a symbolic gesture, Enriquez said, since wrens are known for how they meticulously construct and maintain their nests.   

“Protecting their established territory, the cactus wren serves as a reminder to collectively take care of and contribute to our city,” Enriquez explained.

Enriquez’s recent projects are part of several artistic additions that have been sprucing up Chandler’s downtown.

Over the last couple years, artists have painted wall murals outside Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant and along the breezeway near Saba’s Western Wear.

The entire downtown region is now home to more than 30 sculptures, murals and paintings that can be spotted along the Arizona Avenue corridor.

And the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t stopped residents from enjoying this public art, since the city has been producing video tours of downtown that can be viewed from home.

Some of these projects have come to fruition thanks to downtown business owners partnering with the city to help artists bring their designs to life in various spots surrounding City Hall.

Anthony Canecchia, founder of SanTan Brewing Company, said the addition of Enriquez’s mural to the restaurant’s backyard will positively enrich the environment encapsulating his business.

“We feel that Downtown Chandler should be a destination for more than just food and drinks,” Canecchia said. “It should reflect our artistic community, be family friendly and offer open spaces for our amazing community to thrive.

“That’s why we were happy to get involved with this project commission to beautify our neighborhood.”

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