Date: 2015

Mesa Drive Light Rail Station
Mesa Drive and Main Street
Mesa, AZ

Commissioning Agency:
Valley Metro

Project Manager:
MB Finnerty

Cut steel and porcelain enamel panels
Tall screens: 22 ft x 9 ft
Book screens: 9 ft x 9 ft

DWL Architects

KVO Industries

Aaron Rothman

Mesa Drive Station is located at the edge of Mesa’s original town limits, and is surrounded by historic neighborhoods, churches, and Pioneer Park. The design of the station, a collaboration between the artist and the station’s architects and landscape architects, reflects the feel of the area with vine-filled trellises and artwork styles of the early 20th Century when the neighborhood was developed.

Two 21-foot-tall cut-steel, powder-coated panels, featuring images of a father and a mother reading to their children, tower over the station. At four locations in the station’s shade structure, powder-coated panels with stylized tree imagery frame sixteen storybook panels.

Each porcelain enamel panel, cut in the shape of an open book and measuring 35” x 22”, features a unique story and illustrations based on a real childhood memory of Mesa.

Four of the stories were taken from oral interviews collected by the Mesa Historical Society. The remaining twelve were collected in a series of interviews with the storytellers: men and women who had grown up in Mesa, and generously agreed to share their memories and their time for this project. The stories are all personal memories from childhood in Mesa. Each story was written, edited, and illustrated as a collaboration between the storyteller and me, the project artist. Typically we met first to chat. I explained how the art would be integrated into the light rail station, and I asked the storyteller to share memories from their childhood. In a second meeting the storyteller chose one or two anecdotes, and wrote a first draft of the story and we shared ideas for how to illustrate their story. The pictures were based on memories of the storytellers, personal and historical photographs, plus a pinch of imagination. After the story had been written and the pictures sketched, we communicated through meetings, phone calls, and emails to review and edit the words and drawings through every step of the process, from copy-editing details in the text to suggestions for how to make the illustrations feel true to their own memories. The story illustrations are all hand-cut and hand-printed woodblock prints based on drawings developed with the storytellers. The prints were then scanned, colored, and combined with the story’s text to create the final designs.

The storytellers are: Owen MacDonald, Angy Booker, Elaine Steele, Boyd Rogers, Ruth Nesbitt, Virginia Berg, Willie Wong, Eva Sesate, Gabriel Sesate, Peggy Matsuishi, Zarco Guerrero, Jim Ruiz, Julianna Curtis, Bruce Nelson, Marco Meraz, and Patricia Kaleopa.

Mesa is proud of its reputation as a family-friendly city, not too far removed from its history as a farming community. This project, a portrait of a town through the eye’s of its youngest residents, reflects the wide variety of memories and experiences of childhoods spent playing, working, exploring, and learning. These sixteen stories, along with millions more, make up the history of One Home Town.

A paperback book containing all the stories can be purchased through