Monday, June 27, 2016

(Downtown) Murals being made, part 35: Ignacio Garcia

You may have seen Ignacio Garcia's work at the Park Place Chalk Art Festival. (In each of these blog entries, scroll down and look for the drawings by Jose Ignacio Garcia: 2012, 2015 [look for the incredibly realistic 3-D scorpion], and 2016. I missed the 2014 Festival. And I don't think he was there in 2013.) He's also painted other murals inside and outside Tucson. But the new one on the west side of the Rialto Theatre — which you can see from 5th Street a bit north of Broadway — is his most prominent in Tucson, I think.

As some other artists’ did, Ignacio's design evolved after he introduced it in the April 26th meeting at the main library.:.

Ignacio's original design showed a two-story section of theater. But I wasn't sure which side of the “tower” would have the design, so on May 5th I walked around… and found nothing: no white walls, no scaffolding or hydraulic lifts, etc.

My next trip downtown, May 8th, where I drove and parked (a good place to park — with spaces usually available — is within a few blocks of the three-way intersection of 6th, Toole, and Alameda. There are usually spaces up Toole or along Alameda. From there, all the new murals except Rock Martinez are an easy walk.) Ignacio's mural still didn't seem to be on any of the sides of the Rialto's tower.

May 19th, I caught Ignacio on his hydraulic lift stating to paint the jackalope (which, by the way, is a mythical beast: half jackrabbit, half antelope):

The muralists aimed to finish by May 30th, so I walked to 5th & Broadway to see:


Still a bit more touchup on June 4th:


June 10th
, the mural had been signed:

Ignacio replaced the girl riding the jackalope with broadcaster Bill Walton, as you can see in the photo from the original presentation on April 26th:

Sorry for the poor quality. I've emailed Ignacio to ask if he has a better version.

Three more murals to go!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

(Downtown) Murals being made, part 34: Rock Martinez

Rock “CyFi” Martinez’ 55-foot-high mural along 7th Avenue just south of busy 6th Street has made him even more of a celebrity than he already was. (He's been painting murals in Tucson for years — after he was caught, and fined $11,000, for illegal tagging.) There's more in the 2008 Tucson Citizen article Denogean: From tagging to legitimate artwork and a 2010 Arizona Public Media report on graffiti.

So let's jump in and see the mural taking shape. May 1st showed no sign of the mural… just a Benjamin Supply banner:

Fast-forward a week to May 8th near sunset. Unlike most other murals, it looks as if Rock applied his own primer coat. (That's because the finished mural wouldn't cover the entire front of the building.) Also, unlike other artists, Rock has sketched some, painted some — instead of sketching the whole thing ahead, possibly at night with a projector.

On May 10th, I was riding by with a friend, saw Rock walking along the front of his mural, asked her to slow down, grabbed a photo (sorry, Rock, not a very good one) and then we kept going. I'm showing the photo here because some sketched-in areas from the photo above now have some color:

(By the way, I saw a photo in last week's Arizona Daily Star article showing that the woman in the center of the mural is Rock's girlfriend Brandi Watkins.)

Four days later, May 14th,there's a dark blue ring and a painted agave:

May 19th (in higher contrast, to show more detail) the prickly pear pads and the dark ring have texture, and orange saguaro grace both sides of the mural:

A week and a half later, May 30th, the mural is looking basically finished to me. But the hydraulic life is still there, and the mural hasn't been signed. Anyway, here are a photo of the mural and a photo of Rock with someone — maybe Cristina Perez, who worked with him on the mural:

When I stopped by during the day on June 4th, the mural had been signed at the top right corner (with more near the bottom right):

(Note for photographers: The mural was in shadow, but I used the free GIMP editor Intelligent Scissors tool to select the front of the building and the Curves tool to brighten it.)

Just for comparison, here's a photo from Rock's introductory proposal at the open house on April 26th:


Those designs weren't meant to be final, but I thought you might want to check the differences!

I came back on the evening of June 4th, in twilight, and found the mural lit spectacularly:


Next week, we're on to the other half of the murals — the second four murals of the eight.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Tucson 12 video on Downtown Murals Project

@Tucson12 just tweeted a video: “Eight new #murals are beautifying @Downtown_Tucson thanks to a generous grant from the Tohono O’odham Nation.”


Tucson Mural Program (you can click there to view the video fullscreen) from City of Tucson on Tucson 12 via Vimeo.

Monday, June 20, 2016

(Downtown) Murals being made, part 33: Jessica Gonzalez

On the Scott Avenue side of Wig-O-Rama, halfway between Congress and Broadway, Jessica Gonzalez’ mural started like most of the seven others in the Downtown Murals Project: a blank white wall. It looked like this on May 1st:

Of course, Jessica is an accomplished artist. (She needed to be to make it through the juried process, cutting the list of possible murals down to 16… then the owners of eight walls choosing their favorites.) But this was her first public artwork! She got right to it. By May 8th, the design was sketched out and around ten colors were filled in:

May 14th, the mural looks more than half complete (to me, at least). She seemed to be tweaking the design in a few places… for instance, the yellow color in the tops of the three circles have changed to orange, and the white spaces between the orange are now yellow:

(Niki Glen mentioned changing her design a bit as she worked. An artist shouldn't change the design a lot, she pointed out, without asking the owner of the wal. But I can imagine a design changing as the artist sees it close-up, full-sized — instead of the tiny rendering of their original designs.)

When I caught the mural near sunset on May 19th, Jessica had finished more of the detail in the bottom half:

(Note for photographers: I evened out the bright and dark areas with the HDR mode in my camera, then did more darkening and brightening by selecting those areas with the free GIMP editor and applying color Curves to each. I tried balancing the brightness even more than this, but the photo looked a bit unreal.)

On May 30th, Jessica had signed the mural (at the bottom right). The bottom had black outlines that I wasn't sure she was planning to fill in:

I guess the mural is done! The June 16th article in the Star has a photo that looks the same as my June 4th photo:

(The barriers and hydraulic lift are gone, too.) A happy family is posing in front. (I've blurred their faces for privacy.)

Here's the tentative design shown at the Downtown Mural Project design open house April 26th. I snapped a photo from a small piece of paper on a table, so the color differences may be due to my camera, not to a change in Jessica's design:

There are five more new downtown murals to cover. See you on Thursday!

Friday, June 17, 2016

Arizona Daily Star: “9 new murals in downtown scream TUCSON”

Kathleen Allen's article about the Downtown Murals Project was in yesterday's Star, in the Caliente section. If you haven't seen the article, you can click there to read it.

The article includes a mural that wasn't part of the eight Downtown Murals Project artworks: Kati Astreir's mural on 7th at Toole. It also didn't include the new mural on 191 E. Toole or tributes to Prince. But, as I checked the Tucson.com website yesterday evening, it was one of the paper's most popular articles. That's great news for public art in Tucson!

Update (June 19, 2016): If you're walking between Kati Astreir’s mural and Rock Martinez’, don't miss Joe Pagac's spectacular mural next to the tracks where they cross 7th Avenue.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

(Downtown) Murals being made, part 32: Issac Caruso

Tucked in a niche along the west side of this niche-like block of Scott Avenue — just north of Congress — is Issac Caruso's new mural, part of the Downtown Murals Project. Isaac's mural is the second we'll cover, start to finish, on this blog. (The story of the first mural we covered — (Downtown) Murals being made, part 31: Niki Glen — went online here earlier this week.)

Isaac worked so quickly that I barely had time to grab photos before he was done! Here's the scene on May 1, after Graffiti Protective Coatings had applied a white primer coat:

As it turned out, he wouldn't use all of the white area. Here's what I saw on May 8th:

Depending on your computer/phone screen, you may not be able to see the design outline. Here's the same photo in high-contrast black-and-white:

I think that Isaac was the first artist to finish his mural. Here it is on May 14th:

Without a super-wide-angle lens and a ladder, it's basically impossible to photograph this mural straight-on. So I did the next best thing: manipulated the heck out of the photo with the free GIMP editor to make it look as if I had. Here's the result:

Let's jump back a month to the mural introduction April 26th. Here's a photo I snapped from the small copy of Isaac's proposed design:


(The color differences may be due to my camera and the editing I did.)

Let's jump ahead again to May 30th. The wall underneath the mural had been white with some exposed brick at the bottom. When I stopped by again on the 30th, that part of the wall was painted blue:

Next Monday, we're on to the story of the next mural!

Monday, June 13, 2016

(Downtown) Murals being made, part 31: Niki Glen

Starting with an introductory meeting on April 28, the Downtown Murals Project brightened downtown with eight new murals. This entry and the next seven will show the murals from start to finish.

In this first entry, we'll see artist Niki Glen's mural being made. It's at the corner of 5th & Toole Avenues. Here's a part of a Tucson 12 video on the Downtown Murals Project showing an interview with Niki, and she and her friends working on the mural. Click on the video to view it fullscreen:

Tucson Mural Program (you can click there to view the whole video fullscreen) from City of Tucson on Vimeo.


Niki's mural is special because it wraps around a box-like airshaft to something underground (parking, maybe?). Let's look at photos. The mural started the same way that all of the others did: a white primer coat applied (and supplied) by Graffiti Protective Coatings. Here are the south side, then the north side, on May 1st:

The south side has a jog in the middle; the north side has a pole at its middle.

As you'll see in the next blog entries, different artists worked at different paces. Fast-forward a week to May 8th. The north side has the design sketched on the left (east) end of the wall:

The south side was partly blocked by porta-potties at the right (east) end — probably for an event that weekend — but the design at the left end was really taking shape. Here are an overview and a closeup showing the middle of the left half:

I drove by on May 10th and saw artists at work. Naturally, I pulled over in a hurry :) and introduced myself. Niki and another artist, Judy Van Naerssen, had some nice shade set up (which most of the other artists didn't). Here are Judy sketching with charcoal and Niki applying paint to the design:

May 14th, there was lots of color on the south side (where you saw Niki painting, above), an outline on the east side, and some color on the north:

(As always, you can click on a photo for a larger view.)

Near sunset on May 19th, the mural looked almost finished. Here's the north side, left (east) and right (west) ends:

In the next photo, you can see that the east end isn't painted yet; the rest of the photo shows the right (north) side:

The last views of May 19th are of the south side — first the west (left) end and then the east:

May 30th: Right on schedule, I think we're done! (I didn't ask Niki, but the mural looks complete to me.) I'll start with a view from the southeast:

(The nice illumination and color balance are thanks to the great RAW mode in my Panasonic Lumix “point-and-shoot” camera and the compensation I can do in the free Silkypix Developer Studio 4.4 SE editing software.)

Next, from the southwest corner, looking east:

(Here's another photo-geek note. The shade/sun balance in this photo is thanks to the Lumix HDR mode — which lots of digital cameras have these days. I used the free GIMP editor to juice up the saturation, which made the mural look more like it actually did to me.)

Last, the north side of the mural: left (east), then right (west). I took one photo, but I'll split it into two pieces so you can see more detail:

I can't wait to show you the other seven murals! Stay tuned these coming four weeks.