Malinda Curtis Mural

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TED SIMONS: IF YOU'VE BEEN TO DOWNTOWN PHOENIX RECENTLY YOU MAY HAVE NOTICED A MURAL ON THE SIDE OF THE RENAISSANCE HOTEL. THE PAINTING CELEBRATES A PHOENIX WOMAN WHO WAS LOST TO ARIZONA HISTORY. PRODUCER AND VIDEOGRAPHER YU ZHANG INTRODUCES US TO THE ARTISTS WHO UNCOVERED THE MYSTERY BEHIND MALINDA CURTIS.

HUGO MEDINA: MY NAME IS HUGO MEDINA AND I AM AN ARTIST. WHERE -- I WAS ONE OF THE ARTISTS THAT WORKED ON THE MALINDA MURAL

DARRIN ARMIJO-WARDLE: HELLO, MY NAME'S DARRIN ARMIJO-WARDLE, I AM A MURALIST AND WORKED ON MALINDA'S MURAL AT THE HOTEL RENAISSANCE OVER THE ALLEY.

DARRIN ARMIJO-WARDLE: I HEARD THE MYTH THAT MALINDA WAS A GHOST AND LIVED ALONG THE ALLEY AND THEN SHE HAD HAUNTED THE SPEAKEASY DOWN BELOW. PEOPLE CLAIMED TOO SEEN HER IN THE BAR AND CLAIMED TO SEE HER MOVING THROUGH THE ALLEY. SO THERE HAS BEEN THIS LONG RUNNING MYTH AND I SAY MYTH BECAUSE UNTIL RECENTLY PEOPLE DIDN'T THINK SHE EXISTED. THERE WERE STORIES ABOUT HER THAT SHE WAS A MADAM, A PROSTITUTE BUT NO ONE REALLY KNEW.

HUGO MEDINA: AT THAT TIME, SHE WAS JUST A CHARACTER, ANOTHER PART OF PHOENIX HISTORY. WELL, A LOT OF THE RESEARCH IS DONE ONLINE. FIRST WE WERE SPELLING HER NAME WITH AN E AND STARTED WRITING AND SPELLING IT WITH AN A IT GOT US MORE INFORMATION. THERE WAS A LOT OF INFORMATION ABOUT THERE ABOUT WHO SHE WAS, WHERE SHE CAME FROM, SHE USED TROUBLE WITH THE LAW, WHAT SHE DID AND WHY EVERYBODY LIKED HER AND THAT MADE HER MORE OF A PERSON. THAT'S WHAT BUILT THE CHARACTER

DARRIN ARMIJO-WARDLE: SHE WAS WELL-RESPECTED WITHIN THE COMMUNITY. SHE TOOK EVERYBODY IN. SHE WAS REALLY GENEROUS.

DARRIN ARMIJO-WARDLE: I SAW MALINDA AS HAVING A LOT IN COMMON WITH PEOPLE HERE AND TO PEOPLE LOOKING OUT WEST THAT WAS A BIG DEAL. I THINK THE PHRASE BACK THEN WAS GO OUT WEST AND REINVENT YOURSELF. THAT WAS HER STORY AS WELL. SHE CAME OUT TO PHOENIX AND WAS TRYING TO FIND HER FORTUNE, IDENTITY AND WHO SHE WAS. WHAT I DID WAS I LOOKED AT PORTRAITS FROM THE 1860s TO THE 1900s. I LOOKED AT PORTRAITS OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN WOMEN AT THE TIME AND WOMEN IN GENERAL.

HUGO MEDINA: THAT'S US TALKING ABOUT DIFFERENT IDEAS AND HOW THEY CAME TOGETHER. WE WANTED TO DO A PORTRAIT, AND WE WANTED TO FIT THIS IN, AND THESE ELEMENTS IN, AND WE DISCUSSED HOW WE WERE GOING TO MAKE THEM WORK, CAME OUT WITH DIFFERENT SKETCHES…TONS OF DIFFERENT IMAGES CAME TOGETHER UNTIL WE CAME UP WITH THE FINAL ONE.

DARRIN ARMIJO-WARDLE: I WAS TRYING TO INTERJECT THE LONGING FOR A NEW LIFE AND IDENTITY AND CONTEMPLATTING HER NEW SELF IN THIS NEW PLACE, SHE'S A NEWCOMER. WE WERE TRYING TO CAPTURE THOSE ELEMENTS OF REINVENTION. WE WERE TRYING TO KEEP IT SIMPLE AND BEAUTIFUL AT THE SAME TIME.

DARRIN ARMIJO-WARDLE: SHE WAS A PIONEER AND SOMEONE WE CAN DEFINITELY RELATE TO. HER DREAMS AND ASPIRATIONS ARE A LOT LIKE OURS. I DON'T THINK MUCH HAS CHANGED BETWEEN NOW AND THEN.

HUGO MEDINA: I WANT PEOPLE TO COME UP WITH THEIR OWN MURAL. I DON'T WANT TO IMPOSE MY THOUGHTS AND FEELINGS, I WANT THEM TO LOOK AT SOMETHING AND I WANT IT TO TOUCH THEM IN A CERTAIN WAY. AND THEN THEY'LL REMEMBER.

TED SIMONS: YOU CAN SEE THE MALINDA MURAL ON THE WALL OF THE RENAISSANCE HOTEL IN THE ALLEY BETWEEN CENTRAL AND FIRST AVENUE. THAT IS IT FOR NOW. I AM TED SIMONS. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US. YOU HAVE A GREAT EVENING.

VIDEO: ARIZONA "HORIZON" IS MADE POSSIBLE BY CONTRIBUTIONS FROM THE FRIENDSOF ARIZONA PBS, MEMBERS OF YOUR PBS STATION. THANK YOU.

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