Arts,  District Happenings

Muralist Isaac Caruso Comes to Winslow

Muralist Isaac Caruso believes in the power of daydreams. All things are possible when you cross through that mystical portal into the world of figments. For most of us, those daydreams remain deep in our minds. Not so for Isaac. He sets the wonderlands of his imagination free in the form of public art and transforms walls around the state of Arizona, including Winslow.

Early on, though, he struggled to find the right way to express himself.

Attention Deficit Disorder

The self-professed “Dream Alchemist” was a classic ADD kid, who had a hard time with traditional teaching methods. He eventually turned to graffiti as a means to get lost in imagination.

Kids are notorious for writing on walls because they want to project their imagination. We see the same behavior in graffiti writers. In this sense, muralists and graffiti writers are just people who never lost that desire to visually transform their surroundings.

Isaac Caruso
Muralist Isaac Caruso

Muralist Isaac Caruso’s Moment of Change

Transforming surroundings is one thing; Breaking the law is quite another. In his twenties, the now thirty-three-year-old got caught. At the time, he was working under a grant through the city of Tempe. The city’s art director gave him a choice:

“You can either try and be Banksy or you can do public art but you can’t do both.”

Muralist Isaac Caruso

Isaac (smartly) chose public art, murals, to be exact. He’s painted murals for APS, United Way, the University of Arizona, and more. He’s won contests and even been awarded an NEA grant. His current project, though, hits closest to his heart.

Isaac Caruso’s Sam & Sara

For more than ten years, Isaac has been formulating the plan for a children’s book called Sam & Sara exploring the challenges of being ADD and functioning in a linear society.

People would sigh,
“She can’t pay attention,”
but really her thoughts
just had more dimension.

– From Sam and Sara

This isn’t any ordinary book, though. Isaac’s innovative concept is to create the story through a series of fifty murals painted across Arizona. He’ll then photograph the murals and compile them into a book following Sara as she slides into a richly textured imaginary world with her adventure partner, Sam.

This is the story
of a girl who would dream
worlds of her own
beneath the moon’s beam.

– From Sam and Sara

Muralist Isaac Caruso

Living an Adventurous Life

Like Isaac, the main character is a daydreamer. Sara doesn’t let her attention issues stop her from pursuing a life of adventure, nor does the man who created her. After getting frustrated with his university studies, Isaac took to the road. The travel bug bit hard. Since that time, he’s been from the icy fjords of Svalbard to the barrios of Uruguay, creating art along the way.

I feel compelled to remind people that they are able to curate their own human experience.

Isaac Caruso

Muralist Isaac Caruso comes to Winslow Arizona!

And now Winslow will have his work as well, in the form of two pages from Sam & Sara, including the epilogue, featuring Sam who must continue his adventure alone after Sara returns to her own world. The mural is visually appropriate for Winslow showing a dark desert road, an adventurer with his thumb out, and a hawk.

I hope this mural conveys the romantic ideas of the open road and adventure. I also hope it inspires them to pursue their personal quests for happiness and satisfaction in life.

Isaac Caruso
Epilogue from Muralist Isaac Caruso's Sam and Sara

Winslow will also have the final page in the book, a gloriously colorful mural full of “figments” (you know, those things in our imagination). This mural incorporates both of Issac’s Sam & Sara styles: the more cartoonish style of the imaginary world, and the more representational style of the real world. It is the only mural showing both on the same page. (I particularly love the figment of Isaac’s van “Vanna White” with Gustavo hanging his head out the window!)

Final page of Muralist Isaac Caruso's Sam & Sara

Both murals add a beautiful splash of color and intrigue to Kinsley Avenue near Winslow’s famous corner, adding yet another interesting element for tourists and locals alike to enjoy.

The Mural Project Progress

To date, Isaac has completed thirty murals, starting in 2019 in Camp Verde. He hopes to complete the project within the year, and we plan to carry the book at the Motor Palace Mercantile, across the street from the murals on Kinsley Avenue.

Big thanks to Isaac and his delightful sidekick Gustavo the bull terrier (who even got to be mayor for a day)…

Gustavo the bull terrier

We appreciate your kindness, humor, passion, and of course, your gorgeous work brightening up a small piece of Winslow’s Historic Entertainment District.

If it inspires people to affect their surroundings with positivity, in any creative way (starting a business, making an extra delicious sandwich, sharing an anecdotal story with a friend etc.) then it has achieved its goal.

Isaac Caruso
Muralist Isaac Caruso and his dog Gustavo

Listen to Isaac!

We also created a podcast featuring Isaac, a twenty-minute interview about what makes him tick. Check it out!

Keeping up with Isaac Caruso

You can see the murals on Kinsley Ave at Third street, on the southeast wall of the Wild Styles building.

To keep up with Isaac’s progress, follow him on his Website, the Sam & Sara Website, Instagram, and YouTube.

Until next time…

Take it Easy

Many thanks to Mike of Clear Creek Rentals for comping Isaac a kayak for the day!

Sponsored by:

The Motor Palace Mercantile, 213 N. Kinsley Ave, Winslow Arizona. Click the logo to go to the website!

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