Artists chosen for Downtown mural; business selected for 48 Hour Makeover

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: From left, Crispin and Mary Coronado celebrate being named as the 48 Hour Makeover winner by SDA President Danny Smith and Amber Hogle.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – During the 14th annual Safford Downtown Association’s Best of Safford Appreciation Luncheon at the Safford Theatre site Tuesday, Graham County Supervisor and SDA President Danny Smith also announce the artists chosen for the Downtown mural and the business for the 48 Hour Makeover event. 


The mural will be pained on the Farmer’s Insurance Building in Downtown Safford at 610 W. Main St. The building is cinder block construction, approximately 42’ long by 14.6’ high. 

Tucson artist Amy B. Novelli was chosen to be the artist, along with former Safford resident Michaela Dannenbrink, who is also currently living in Tucson. 

In her letter of interest, Novelli advised that she has won five large-scale outdoor mural commissions since 2015, in Arizona, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington, and has supervised four public art projects in Tucson. 

With 30 years of experience, Novelli said she enjoys painting murals because not only is her art seen by thousands of people but she deemed murals as a performance event and an agent of change.

“Ownership is communal,” Novelli said about murals. “The mural is a place maker, (it) becomes a meeting place; inspires smiles on local commuters’ faces where drudgery once persisted . . . Neighbors become protective and gain pride in their community. Businesses hurry to move in and share in the new social interaction. New improvement projects are inspired to begin.”

Dannenbrink is currently living in Tucson and paints sets for the Arizona Theatre Company. Her mother, Ruth Dannenbrink, expressed her pleasure of Michaela being able to work on the project. 

“It’s nice of her to be able to come back and do something nice for this town,” Ruth said.

Contributed Photo: The mural will be painted on this wall of the Farmer’s Insurance building.

Smith said there were five applicants that were narrowed down to three finalists who were interviews for the mural award and that he hopes all of the applicants are able to work on Downtown murals in the future.

“They have done work all over (and) are really accomplished artists,” he said. “We were just really impressed.”

The mural project is scheduled to start April 8. View previous murals done by Novelli by clicking here.

48 Hour Makeover

El Coronado was chosen as the winner of the 48 Hour Makeover event. The restaurant will receive $5,000 in cash as well as $500 in merchandise from Safford Builders and will also receive some combination of renovated facade, including potential elements such as signage, awnings, windows, masonry, or cornice repair; upgraded interior space, including merchandising, improved layout and/or space design; upgraded marketing materials and plan, including social media, e-marketing and print marketing promotions; regional media coverage, including a press release and promotional video; and additional one-on-one technical assistance from the 48 Hour Makeover Committee. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald. A good chuckle was had over a wardrobe malfunction with Mary Coronado’s construction hat.

Matriarch Mary Coronado and grandson Crispin Coronado donned construction helmets for the announcement. Mary said she ran the restaurant for 35 years.

According to its Facebook page, El Coronado Restaurant has been a Safford staple since 1981. Last year, under different ownership, it was a location for the independent feature film “To Hell and Gone.” 

But now Mary is back and El Coronado and the 48 Hour Makeover Committee will meet April 1 – 5 to address all aspects of the business and plan the makeover event. The event will then commence April 24 – 25.

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