April 13th 2019, Phoenix’s Miracle Mile on McDowell.
The artist who designed the McDowell Gateway along with the Metal
1990, Michelle Stuhl is chosen by the City of Phoenix to create a public art project to create a landmark for the business community that was impacted by the loss of diagonal parking due to the widening of McDowell Road. The city and the local merchant’s group convened a group of volunteers from the neighborhood and businesses to work with Michelle. The community group and Michelle had a difficult time coming up with ideas for a piece of art that represented the vision of the neighborhood because there just was not a good place to put a work of significance. There was no park, no community space and a lack of spaces between the sidewalks and street.
That problem was solved when one member talked about the most significant piece of art they ever saw, the St. Louis Arch. The idea of an Arch was the perfect solution to the lack of space and allowed construction without impacting sidewalks or traffic flow. The white paint was deliberately chosen by the artist to help the piece standout from the surrounding storefronts and light posts and to reflect the different colors of the Arizona sky throughout the day. Michelle worked closely with the artist and metal sculpture Michael Anderson and drew the outlines for the arch on giant pieces of metal to ensure that the piece looked handmade and not machined. The centerpiece of the Arch is a deconstructed picket fence that symbolizes a neighborhood that welcomes everyone.
The ribbon cutting was proceeded by a thirty minute ceremony where key partners in the revitalization project along the Miracle Mile Corridor spoke: Phoenix Councilwoman Laura Pastor, District 4; Josh Tinkle, Administrator Banner University Medical Center Phoenix; Joel McCabe, COO Trellis; with Michelle Stuhl closing the ceremony by telling the story of how the idea for the Arch came to be.
Trellis is the Community Development Corporation at the Center of the revitalization of the McDowell Corridor that has been working since 2015 with the National nonprofit Local Support Initiatives Corporation, LISC Phoenix, to support local businesses and the surrounding neighborhoods to improve the commercial corridor. Interestingly enough their work started at the same time that the Phoenix Community Alliance started a McDowell Road Revitalization Committee and the two have been partnering ever since. Trellis received a grant to hire a commercial corridor coordinator whose role is to manage projects, support new and existing businesses, develop relationships with developers, civic and neighborhood leaders and promote equitable community and economic development. Aislyn Richmond was in the role from 2016 to early 2018 and Michael Kelly has been in the position since July 2018.