Mural on Water Tower Brightens Maricopa Skyline

by Blake Herzog

The owners of a property on the edge of Maricopa turned their 60-foot water tower over to an artist —who’s afraid of heights — and got a colorful tribute to the area’s history that’s been welcomed by residents in return.

Pam Howerton, whose father Mike Phillips owns the property at the northwest corner of Maricopa-Casa Grande Highway and White and Parker Road, said the family has been talking in recent years about developing the property that’s been in the family for decades.

They began moving forward within the past year, she said, and she started taking bids on getting a single-color layer of fresh paint on it.

But then she saw some photos on her Facebook feed of brilliant murals being painted in her neighborhood on the south edge of Phoenix by Danny Dyster, who lives in that area.

She said, “I looked at some of his art that he’s been doing in Laveen on people’s back walls, and I said, ‘Wouldn’t it be unique if he could paint the history of Maricopa on that tower, instead of just blah and white,’ right?”

She said she reached out to Dyster about having him do her own back wall before asking, “Hey, have you ever done a water tower? And he says ‘No, but how exciting!’”

Dyster said he’s been spray-painting the murals as an outlet for his creativity when not at his full-time job as a pharmacy tech for a behavioral health hospital, and he’s getting increasingly noticed.
“This has been a mental cure for myself and seems to be for others as well,” he said.

He wasn’t very familiar with Maricopa, having stopped there once about 15 years ago when it was much smaller. But Howerton sent him the description of the area’s history from the City’s website, and he went to town.

“We added the migrant workers in there and the mountains to represent all of the mountains that Maricopa moved around to. I put in a water tower on the water tower! Also the train was a huge part of the growth, it seems,” he said.

He worked on the tower for six days in June, recreating an image in his mind with spray paint — no tape, stencils or brushes involved. Two of those were full days, with work and high winds cutting into his time on the other four.

Both he and Howerton have gotten positive feedback about the end result, and Dyster said his work overall is getting enough momentum that he may be able to cut back on his day job by next year.

Howerton said she hopes whoever her family finds to develop the property will leave the 60- to 70-year-old tower as is.

“I don’t see why anyone would change the design on it. I think it really complements it. I think we should put a condition on it for whoever takes over the property,” she said. “Maybe I will.”