Phoenix artist reimagines the city’s most iconic landmarks.
As a young boy Aaron Stouffer whiled away the hours drawing floor plans on big tablets of paper, recreating the places running through his imagination.
Today, Stouffer is still imagining places. Instead of pulling from his Pennsylvania childhood, he is focused on the Valley’s mid-century modern gems of the past and present: Cine Capri, Helsing’s Coffee Shop, First Federal Savings and Loan, and iconic homes throughout Phoenix neighborhoods.
Stouffer is reintroducing these treasures through colorful, stylized graphic prints that capture not only the structures, but also the environs that place them squarely in the Valley of the Sun. Whether real life or reimagined, Stouffer’s scenes show off the architecture of the day against a backdrop of mountains, palm trees and cacti.
The 28-year-old artist is juggling private commissions with his “Lost” and “Found” collections. “I don’t know what the end goal is, but I just like seeing it grow,” Stouffer says.
At his day job, Stouffer is still involved with floor plans as a project designer for the Tempe architectural firm Architekton. He is working toward becoming a licensed architect. At the same time, Stouffer is nurturing an artistic passion through his graphic prints. His interest was piqued by the project renderings he created while studying architecture at Kent State University. Then, a trip to Palm Springs—the country’s epicenter of mid-century modern architecture—cemented the direction of his work.
“I was incredibly inspired by the rich character of each neighborhood,” Stouffer says. “I could feel it emanating from every block and every square foot of landscaping, imagining I was arriving for a dinner party hosted by Sinatra in the ’50s.”
It’s easy to see and feel that inspiration in Stouffer’s prints. He creates private commissions for homeowners using photos, memories and embellishments like leafy trees or a hot air balloon. His “Lost” and “Found” collections showcase landmarks like the beloved Legend City in Phoenix.
Stouffer sells his work online (postandbeamaz.com) and in local stores like Modern on Melrose in Phoenix, and For the People at the Biltmore Fashion Park.
Wes McKeage is a big fan. He discovered Stouffer’s work at Modern on Melrose, which featured a print of the retro bowling alley Christown Lanes in Phoenix. McKeage has since purchased several pieces, and also commissioned a custom print of a 1972 Polynesian-inspired tract home as a gift for his mother. Whatever the subject, Stouffer brings out its true beauty, McKeage says.
“It’s obvious that his background in architecture and his unique vision as an artist have combined to make something really special,” he says.
Story by Susie Steckner
Photo by Mark Lipczynski