New Chandler mural tells the city’s history - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

New Chandler mural tells the city’s history

February 4th, 2020 development
New Chandler mural tells the city’s history

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

Chandler’s newest downtown mural fuses two artistic styles to present a timeline of the city’s history.

Located in the breezeway next to Saba’s Western Wear, the mural takes the abstract, geometric patterns of Joey Salamon and combines them with realistic portraits painted by Cam DeCaussin.

Rainbow streaks stretch across the breezeway’s wall and guide the viewer’s eye through a series of pictures meant to be symbolic of Chandler’s first 100 years as an incorporated city.

Salamon, a Michigan-based muralist known for his dynamic zig-zag patterns, described the new artwork as a twist on classical and modern styles.

“If anyone else looking at those styles were to see them,” Salamon said, “they probably wouldn’t see any objectively easy way to combine them.”

But that’s what made the Chandler mural enjoyable, he added: the challenge of incorporating his contemporary brand with DeCaussin’s old-fashioned portraits.

The two artists attended Michigan’s Grand Valley State University together and had not collaborated on a project before. Salamon approached DeCaussin, who is based out of Phoenix, on teaming up to design the Chandler mural.

Salamon normally goes solo on mural projects, but thought DeCaussin’s reputation for gritty realism would add an interesting element to Chandler’s mural.

DeCaussin is known for painting what he describes as “suburban landscapes.”

He likes capturing the hidden beauty of everyday life by depicting dark driveways, still swimming pools, and empty rocking chairs.

DeCaussin said he tries to capture a mood that’s somewhere between Edward Hopper’s bleak realism and David Lynch’s eerie abstractness.

He had not worked on many public art projects before and leaned on Salamon to get the Chandler mural done within two weeks.

To find some inspiration, DeCaussin dug through Chandler’s archival photos and plucked out ones that were emblematic of the city’s character.

He used the historical research to paint little portraits of an empty desert landscape, farm fields, and the City Hall complex.

The mural needed to show an evolution of how Chandler came to be the city it is today, DeCaussin said, and Salamon’s vibrant color scheme helps to catch the viewer’s attention.   

“It does perk people up,” DeCaussin said, “that’s the most important thing.”

Salamon said the mural’s perkiness almost represents how quickly Chandler has changed in the last century. For being a relatively young city, he said, Chandler’s grown rapidly and seems to be on the horizon of more change.

“I think this mural kind of reflects that same energy,” Salamon said.

The city spent $20,000 on the breezeway mural, which is one of several public art pieces located throughout Chandler.

Within the last year, the downtown area has had multiple murals painted outside the Overstreet complex and Serrano’s Mexican Restaurant.

Art scenes are starting to emerge in all the communities around Phoenix, DeCaussin said, and each city is trying to use art to find its voice.

It’s important to invest in these types of public projects, he added, because it signals how much a city values creative expression.

“It’s a good way to engage with the public,” DeCaussin said. “When the city invests in the public art sector, then private institutions are more inclined to follow suit.”