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Iconic view of the Grand Canyon finds home at Arizona State Capitol

Arizona capitol
Posted at 2:51 PM, Oct 04, 2019

PHOENIX — An Iconic view of the Grand Canyon finally has a home at the Arizona state capitol.

Throughout the capitols of the world, the halls of government are often buildings of prestige, works of art. The buildings reflect an appreciation for the people and places they represent. Such grandeur has never had its place in Arizona.

The spartan building, which makes up our capitol, bears no resemblance to the state we call home. But that is changing.

For decades, republicans and democrats have debated, pleaded, yelled, and threatened in the mosh pit known as the floor of the Arizona House of Representatives.

There were attempts to spruce up the room. In 1979, the House Administration Committee approved installing a mural of the Grand Canyon along the House Walls, but it was not meant to be. The artist commissioned to do the work apparently ran into what was described as logistical problems, including a lengthy illness.

By 1982, the deal was off.

"The wheels came off that bus," House Speaker Rusty Bowers said, "But it was never rescinded."

About a year ago, Bowers, whose family history is interwoven with Arizona's and the Grand Canyon, personally took on the mural project. Members of his staff, and State Representative Jennifer Longdon, were among a group who looked through hundreds of pictures before choosing a 2017 photograph by artist Chris Collacott.

It was transformed into a 22-panel high definition mural of the Grand Canyon from Hopi Point, where the picture was taken, to Phantom Ranch. At 13.5 feet high and 88 feet long, it transforms the House floor.

"Ms. Longdon mentioned it just gives the air of gravitas and majesty," Bowers said, "This is something that we could do, and we did do, and I think it lends a who lot to the building and making laws to the people of Arizona."

When the House reconvenes in January, members will look up to an early morning view of the Grand Canyon. The photograph was taken just as the sun began peeking over the horizon.

Bowers hopes its profoundness will not be lost on lawmakers as they go about doing the business of the people they serve. When the Speaker looks from his seat, he'll think about his grandfathers. Their contributions from building the road to the Canyon from Williams and the fireplaces at the El Tovar on the South Rim to leading tourists into the Canyon after it became a National Park.

"The reason this mural is on the wall is these two men," the Speaker says, "and how much they mean to me."