One of Maricopa’s best-kept secrets comes in the way of artwork inside Walmart.
And nobody can name the artist.
Even a Walmart manager who said she is a longtime Maricopa resident was stumped when InMaricopa asked her to identify the artist. Nobody in the biggest Maricopa-centric Facebook group knew either.
The mural, which appears to be Walmart’s view of Maricopa, hangs on a high wall over the customer service department, directly across from the checkout aisles.
It’s Maricopa, according to Walmart, with letters around key local symbols:
- M and A contain the old water tower, which can be found on John Wayne Parkway near the railroad overpass. The old water tower is a familiar landmark that highlights the city’s history as a hub for trains. This old tower has seen it all.
- R wraps around the not-so-famous State Route 347 sign. Once a dirt road heading north along the bed of the former Maricopa & Phoenix Railroad line that stopped running in the mid-1930s, SR 347 is now the only route north into metro Phoenix and the bane of many commuters’ existence.
- I and C contain “M” Mountain, local parlance for Pima Butte. In 1956, voters in the Maricopa region approved the sale of $250,000 in bonds to build a new high school and the first graduating class began a freshman initiation tradition of painting the 20-foot-tall “M” on Pima Butte. Despite going without a fresh coat for more than 20 years, the “M” is still clearly visible today, serving as a reminder of Maricopa’s past.
- O and P encircle the symbol for the Ak-Chin Indian Community. An arrow symbolizes the Ak-Chin people as a community of Native Americans. A pair of scales balanced on the arrow represents equality and justice.
- The letter A rounds up a pair of cowboy boots, perhaps a reference to actor John Wayne, Maricopa’s most famous cowboy. In the late 1950s, the Hollywood legend purchased 4,000 acres of farmland between Maricopa and Stanfield. He paid $4 million in borrowed money for the acreage because his tax attorney thought it would be a good investment. Do the boots in this mural allude to his likeness? That’s for Walmart to interpret.
The most prominent figure in the mural is a cowboy on horseback, posing as a wrangler you might see in an old Western movie. Maricopa’s prominent cattle farming families’ names now live on street signs throughout the city.