Ashland H.S. grad paints inspiring mural on burnt van in Phoenix

PHOENIX, Ore. — An Ashland High School graduate painted a large mural on a burnt van in Phoenix following the Almeda Fire, with the idea of giving the community hope.

Benjamin Swatez says he has traveled the world the last 13 years creating murals.
Before heading to Africa for another artistic trip -the Almeda Fire hit southern Oregon.

Swatez says he saw the burnt van and knew he needed to bring creativity to the devastating scene.

“There’s a time and a place and it’s now, to bring some light and shift that destruction back into creativity. That van, to me, was glowing,” said Swatez.

Swatez says the mural took about 6.5 hours to paint.
He says the owner of the sprinter van worked with him to cut the mural off of the van before it was towed away.

Swatez says the owner donated the mural to the City of Phoenix.

NBC5 News reporter Mariah Mills is a Medford native. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor's Degree in journalism. She also minored in sociology. In school, she covered Oregon athletics for the student-run television station, Duck TV. When she's not reporting, she’s reading, hiking and rooting for her favorite teams, the Seattle Seahawks and the Oregon Ducks.
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