Si’alik Hiosik / Morning Blossom, a mural by Thomas “Breeze” Marcus and Miles MacGregor, depicts a young girl from the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community in downtown Phoenix.
Thomas “Breeze” Marcus and Miles MacGregor (“El Mac”) have been friends since their early graffiti days in and around downtown Phoenix in the mid-1990s. The two shared the same art mentor, Ishmael Duenas, and they both ended up members of the NG Graffiti crew. So when Breeze saw an opportunity for a paid mural gig come up in the same downtown Phoenix, he sent a link to El Mac and they jumped at the chance. NG is a graffiti crew solely because they started painting before the term Street Art became popularized and their roots are in traditional graffiti style.
Breeze and El Mac have worked together on small projects before but nothing on the magnitude of the new mural Si’alik Hiosik/Morning Blossom. The mural stands forty-five feet high by eighty-five feet wide and is located on First Avenue and Monroe—literally in the heart of downtown Phoenix. Their collaborations consist of abstract pattern designs by Breeze surrounding traditional portraiture by El Mac done in his signature style of repeating contour lines rippling out from the center in black, white, and shades of gray.
Breeze is a member of the Akimel O’odham tribe—the original inhabitants of the Phoenix area—and grew up on the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. When he and El Mac discussed the project, they felt it was important to include a model who was also from the same tribe. The model they eventually depicted is the daughter of a family friend and neighbor of Breeze from the Salt River Community. “Phoenix has such a diverse and vibrant Native community but there is only one tribe that is the original inhabitants of this area and that was very important to us.”
The young girl holds a solitary rose in her clutched hands and looks out over busy and bustling downtown Phoenix like a benevolent guardian angel. Her face offers serenity and strength to those who may be struggling daily on the streets underneath her proud visage. Inspired by Alphonse Mucha, Caravaggio, and Vermeer, El Mac’s portrait masters the balance between dark and light, sol y sombra, while Breeze’s abstract designs surround and protect her visually and metaphorically from the chaos of modern life—the Southwestern equivalent of Gatsby’s eyes of Doctor Eckleburg.