Chef Silvana Salcido wanted to promote more than good Mexican food with her restaurant, El Barrio, in downtown Phoenix. So she asked several local artists to paint murals on the sides of her building. The art drew attention, and now downtown Phoenix has become known for its murals depicting everything from political statements against the state’s past immigration law to key moments in Mexican history.
The murals have become a tourist attraction and encouraged other businesses to move into the neighborhood. Artists say the murals served as a release, allowing them to express themselves during a time when many Hispanics, especially those living in the U.S. illegally, were scared to speak their mind, afraid they might draw the attention of authorities.