A valley man’s mission to make art accessible through murals

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PHOENIX – Julian Sodari insists he doesn’t have a favorite mural.

But the one he calls “special” is the mural on a wall of his family’s property in the Phoenix neighborhood of Central City South.

It’s big, bright, abstract, and the first mural event he’s organized for the community.

It allows a different wall to be used as a “living wall” where artists can come and paint and create a new piece.

“We want it to stay fresh, to stay alive,” Sodari said. “So we encourage artists to come out, you know, just ask, ‘Hey, do you have a place where we can paint? And we’ll say, ‘yeah, here’s a free wall.'”

His only rules are to keep him positive and respectful.

“Keep it family-friendly,” he said.

But Sodari does not paint murals. He appreciates them.

“I think it’s accessibility to art, you know? Growing up here in Central City South, we didn’t really have, you know, outings to art museums and things like that. So everything we saw on the streets was kind of, you know, our gallery,” Sodari said.

Sodari makes cards for a living and uses those skills on muralsofphoenix.com, the website he co-founded with Sagrado Gallery owner Sam Gomez.

They keep track of where murals can be found around the city and connect street artists with commissioned work.

“You’ll find a lot of them in downtown Phoenix, Roosevelt Row. We work a lot in the Coronado neighborhood,” Sodari said.

Because he says the murals make a difference in the lives of the artists who paint them and the communities where they are displayed.

“These murals have value and they bring value to communities. If it’s not for an artist who gets paid and makes a living [then] that’s what they provide for. They pretty much beautify your neighborhood,” Sodari said.

The map is currently being updated to reflect new murals since the start of the pandemic.

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