History of downtown Phoenix mural: Woman painted on Renaissance Hotel was real

Posted at 6:09 AM, Jul 14, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-14 10:04:10-04

We've seen the big plans for a new multi-use building in downtown Phoenix. Construction of a grocery store and apartments are well underway, but there's a more subtle push to revitalize downtown -- and all it takes is paint and a lot of talent.

You might have driven or walked by a new massive mural at Central and Adams and not even realized the story behind a woman painted on the side of the Renaissance Hotel. 

"She was real," says Darrin Armijo-Wardle who helped paint the mural. "She was from the south. She was African-American. She came here searching for her identity. Up until that point, everybody thought she was a ghost." 

Armijo-Wardle and Hugo Medina are the two artists behind the Melinda's Alley mural.

"She used to hallucinate and see flying creatures and so there is this whole weird, but fascinating, kind of story behind her," says Armijo-Wardle.

It's believed Melinda still haunts the alley so the two artists tried to portray that mystery around her life in this mural.

She stands 74 feet and stretches 50 feet on the side of the hotel. But looking at the bigger picture here, this is also a part of revitalizing downtown.

"People are going to come here because of the mural," says Medina. "They'll do photo shoots in front of the mural; increases foot traffic to the area. It deters vandalism and graffiti."

Medina says a public piece like Melinda could increase foot traffic to this location by 20 to 30 percent. It took the pair just a couple days to spray paint the picture but the chance to show others a piece of Phoenix history is priceless.

"Art tells history — records history as it happens so I'm kind of helping tell history," says Medina.