Tempe apartment boasts four-story Gila monster mural


by Fields Moseley

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Posted on January 16, 2014 at 4:10 PM

Updated Thursday, Jan 16 at 4:20 PM

TEMPE, Ariz. -- An apartment complex is now home to the largest mural in the city of Tempe.

The Mark, previously the Campus Pointe Apartments, is now under new ownership, and that ownership commissioned a nearly 50-foot-tall, 55-foot-wide mural of a Gila monster as part of an extensive renovation process.

Artist Aztec Smurf grew up near the apartments, and he said saw potential in the building's four-story white wall.

“So I pitched it to the property owners and the managers, and they loved it,” Smurf said. “So we went ahead and did a few renderings and decided on this one right here.”

After creating a small-scale version for his pitch, he used a lift to hand-paint the wall with 2- and 3-inch brushes -- the first time he needed assistance to paint on a canvas.

“The biggest canvas I do, 6 feet by 5 feet,” Smurf said. “I’ve done a canvas 6 feet by 12 feet, but never something this large.”

The mural is big, but the artist hopes its impact on the community will be even bigger.

“It can influence people,” Smurf said. “It can inspire some kids, and it can spark conversation between would-be strangers walking around.”

The Mark is planning a dedication on Thursday, Jan. 23, with food, music and a chance for visitors to meet Smurf.