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Here’s Where ‘The Phoenix’ Mural At Sky Harbor Airport Will Land

A historic mural is being dismantled at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport and should have a new home by this summer.

It’s called “The Phoenix” and for nearly 60 years, the mixed medium mural greeted passengers at Terminal 2. But the terminal closed last year and Acting Aviation Director Charlene Reynolds said experts are now overseeing the process of moving three massive panels. 

“As we know, it’s a huge mural of significant importance here in the Valley and so we are taking every single precaution in dismantling that mural,” she said.

The Phoenix is 75 feet wide and 16 feet tall and made up of more than 50 materials, including tiles, gemstones and sand. 

Removing and storing the three panels should be done by May and the mural should be installed in its new location at the Rental Car Center by June. 

“We understand the importance of art in Phoenix and so we are very, very happy that we could find a way to preserve something so important to many members of our community,” Reynolds said.

According to Sky Harbor, “The Phoenix” is considered to be the first piece of public art commissioned by the city that was chosen through a public process.  Gary Martelli, the airport’s museum curator, told KJZZ that in 1960  the city council invited five artists to submit drawings for the new airport terminal and the public chose “The Phoenix” designed by Paul Coze as its favorite.

Coze was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and spent his youth in France before moving to the United States. A biography from Sky Harbor says Coze served as the French Consul in Phoenix and taught art classes out of his Phoenix studio for many years. Among other things, he was commissioned to create art for National Park interpretation centers and murals for many buildings in Phoenix. Coze wrote and illustrated for Arizona Highways, National Geographic and other publications. He died in 1974.

As a senior field correspondent, Christina Estes focuses on stories that impact our economy, your wallet and public policy.