Painter set to begin a giant Arizona Centennial mural downtown

Posted on by az100

BETSEY BRUNER Arts & Culture Editor  | Posted: Thursday, May 13, 2010

His father Ted Nez came to Flagstaff in 1976 to work as a welder and ironworker at City Hall and the Skydome.

Now, Navajo artist Redwing Ted Nez, who was born in Winslow, is also coming here to do a very big project downtown: The Centennial Walk Mural, which will commemorate the State of Arizona Centennial in 2012 with a mural depicting 100 years of Flagstaff history.

The mural will be on the low wall below Route 66 and along the walkway that faces the north side of the historic train station, where the Flagstaff Visitor Center is located.

“It will be the first big mural I’ve ever done,” said Nez, who was selected from about eight artists by the Flagstaff Beautification and Public Art Commission. “My dad did some work in Flag, and I guess I’ll be doing art.”


The project to select an artist took several months and included a call for submissions and a final review this spring by the nine-member commission.

“Redwing’s submission was absolutely the very, very best,” said acclaimed Grand Canyon artist Bruce Aiken, who chaired the commission. “He’s a very accomplished muralist and a highly skilled painter, and we’re thrilled to have him as the centennial muralist for Flagstaff.”

The Centennial Walk, an official state Legacy Project, is a 100-foot section of the Flagstaff Urban Trails System (FUTS) that runs alongside the train station and will honor the centennial, which is Feb. 14, 2012 — 100 years after Arizona became the 48th and last of the contiguous states to enter the Union.

The mural will be about 60 feet long and 5 feet at its highest point, Aiken said.

“It’s a very big mural, and it’s going to represent the cultural, historic and natural aspects of what it means to live in Flagstaff,” Aiken said. “It’s a tall order, but this guy is up to the challenge. Look for something fantastic from Redwing Nez.”

The city spent $20,000 on the Centennial Wall Mural and funding came out of the BBB-funded beautification account.

The Centennial Walk is a collaborative effort between multiple city of Flagstaff departments and commissions, including the CVB and the public art commission, as well as the Historic Preservation Office, Community Design and Redevelopment, Community Enrichment Services and the Community Development and Tourism Commission.


Nez said he will be using acrylic exterior paints to create on the concrete wall. There will be a variety of colors in the mural.

A CVB press release said Nez said the vision for the mural stems from his early childhood memories of Flagstaff in the 1960s.

“The sample he submitted to us had a blue theme to it, but he was also trying to show us the night sky over the San Francisco Peaks and Percival Lowell sitting at his telescope,” Aiken said.

The artist said he picked cool colors because the mural will be in full sunlight and cool colors will last a little longer.

He said three artists he has known for years will be helping him on the mural, including his son, Eli.

Nez, who attended NAU and is an established artist at the Museum of Northern Arizona.

Nez, 50, lives in Indian Wells and has his art studio at the historic Bitahochee Trading Post on the reservation. He said he has been visiting Flagstaff his whole life.

“I do all my business there, get my supplies there,” he said Tuesday, in a cell phone conversation from Indian Wells. “To kind of contribute back to the city is a great feeling.”

He said the mural will welcome people to Flagstaff.

“It will be our guests and visitors globally — they’ll be greeted with some art,” Nez said, adding that he plans to start work Monday.

“He really is a hard worker,” Aiken said. “I know he wants to get it done by June.”

The mural will be officially unveiled at a ribbon-cutting ceremony in June, but the exact day has not yet been set.

“I urge everyone in Flagstaff to come down and take a look at it; you’re going to love what you see,” Aiken said.

Betsey Bruner can be reached at or 556-2255.

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