New Phoenix mural pays tribute to coronavirus front-line workers
PHOENIX – A new mural near downtown Phoenix pays tribute to workers on the front lines of the battle against the coronavirus, including a nurse who gained prominence for standing her ground.
Phoenix artist Hugo Medina will unveil his completed work on Tuesday. The mural, titled Together We Rise, covers the west side of the Ace Uniforms building on McDowell Road at 15th Street, just blocks from where Lauren Leander works as an ICU nurse.
Leander was one of several nurses featured in viral photos from an April 2020 demonstration at the Arizona Capitol, where mostly maskless protesters voiced their displeasure with business closures and other restrictions designed to control the spread of COVID-19.
The photos showed Leander, in her medical mask and scrubs, standing firmly with arms crossed while being verbally confronted by protesters.
“We disagreed with them. This is not the way to reopen the country,” Leander told KTAR News 92.3 FM’s The Broomhead Show at the time. “Stay at home, follow these rules and let us help us help you.”
Medina wanted to amplify the message through his art.
“I kept seeing the news of what all the health care workers and front-line workers were going through and I wanted to do something,” Medina said in a press release.
He contacted community development group Downtown Phoenix Inc. last spring with an idea about creating a mural.
“When I saw Leander’s image, I knew she would be the perfect centerpiece of a mural that honors front-line workers and also urges our communities to ‘mask up’ and help keep each other safe,” R.J. Price, Downtown Phoenix Inc. chief marketing officer, said in the release.
After Price’s group helped identify a location for the project, Medina and his crew started it in December.
Firefighters, police, health care workers and the Downtown Phoenix Partnership’s Clean & Green Team are represented along with Leander in the painting.
“I hope every time they drive past this piece of art they are deeply reminded that they are part of the front line, part of the reason that Phoenix will rise from its ashes,” Leander said in the release.