By Amy Young

Phoenix-based artist Laura Spalding Best is preparing to beautify downtown Phoenix with two, large-scale permanent murals at the Monroe branch of OneAZ Credit Union.

The artist will begin these creations on November 30, with a completion date of December 14.

Best is known for her oil paintings that present unique takes on the American West's landscapes, using found objects as the surface.

The landscape that she examines, dissects, and creates in her work is also a focus of this project. “I'm creating two separate murals, one on the east face of the building and one on the west, they both focus on the landscape and history of the location as well as the state of Arizona as a whole,” she tells Echo.

Plans for the building's east side

“In both designs, I'm looking at the transition from the natural desert landscape to the infrastructure that supports the urban desert city. It's also located close to the capitol building, so I'm showing the capitol as well as reflecting the state flag. The state flag is also incorporated into the mural across the street at the Central Boxing Gym. I've always loved that one, it is well established and a little faded at this point, so my softer color palette pays homage to that mural.”

The project has been in the works for a while; Best is excited to get started. “I've been in conversation with the team from OneAZ Credit Union for a little over a year,” she says. “I made proposals after they asked if I'd be interested in creating mural designs for them. These final concepts are very close to my original designs. I owe a big thank you to Ken Richardson, who initially pointed them in my direction.” (Note: Ken is also a Phoenix-based artist and the manager of the Ed Mell Gallery.)

Plans for the building's west side

The murals are just one of the creative projects Best has in the works. "I'll be at the Art & Objects Studio Sale, hosted by Patricia Sannit, on December 5, where I'll have a lot of paintings available in all sizes and ranges. After that, I am working on a few other small mural projects and making new work for the coming year. I currently have a public art project on view at Tempe Town Lake and a series of paintings installed at the Tucson Museum of Art as part of the 2020 Arizona Biennial."

Visit Laura Spalding Best's website for information and images of her work.

View the murals at OneAZ Credit Union, 1812 West Monroe Street, in Phoenix.

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