Sunday, December 27, 2009

Mural or mess?

There are lots of different definitions of "art," and urban art (a.k.a. graffiti, a.k.a. tagging) can be tough to call. As I ride around Tucson on my bike, I see plenty of ugly graffiti. So what about something like this?

(This is on the back of the building at 3591 E. Golf Links, at the corner with Richey Blvd; I shot it from the vacant lot west of 3602 E. 34th St.)

I don't have an exact definition. If it seems to me like the painter(s) put some thought into the design, and it looks "artistic" (whatever that means), I snap it... and let you decide.

Happy 2010 — and new decade — everyone!

Friday, December 25, 2009

BBQ at Bristol and Bikeway

South of 22nd Street, between Country Club and Tucson, is Eastmoor Park. It has a playground, a big grassy area, as well as picnic tables with mosaic murals on the ends and grills next to them:

It's a good place for a (small) family barbecue — or to take a break from a bike ride along Aviation Bikeway, which runs along the south edge of the park. It was deserted on the cool Christmas Day I rode by on my bicycle, but it'd be great in spring and fall; there's not much shade at the tables in summertime.

The bikeway has bits of public art and murals along it, like these four mosaics... unfortunately, a tagger trashed one of them. (As always, you can click for a larger view. Use your browser's "Back" button to come back.)

Update (November 9, 2011): A memorial mural has popped up on the wall along the northwest edge of the park.

Update (December 18, 2023): Artist Cristina Cárdenas created these murals.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Thanks for the art

These sunny scenes decorate a home on Mountain Avenue, at the northwest corner with Seneca. (A great way to get a good look is on a bicycle — from the bike lane along Mountain.)

Thanks to the homeowner for brightening the block!

A long mural along Prince

My camera couldn't capture all of this lonngggg mural between a parking lot and the fields at Amphi Middle School. It's across the street from 332 E. Prince.

Update (July 28, 2019): The mural style, and that fact that it's at a school, makes me think that it was created by muralist David Tineo with help from students.

Update (March 14, 2022): The photo above doesn't show much of the mural in detail. Today I realized that Google Street View might have the whole mural. Sure enough, it does. Here are two views from March 2011:

Update (April 1, 2022): Joe Pagac has replaced the mural. Today's post A new long mural along Prince (Murals being made, part 68) has close-ups of the mural in progress and finished.

Bright spot along the tracks

The front of the building that houses Originate natural building materials, at 526 N. 9th Avenue (between 5th and 6th Streets), is lined with a scene of mountains under a blue sky:

Friday, December 18, 2009

Beautifying a brick wall

No matter what shape it takes, some paint can improve a plain brick wall — as you can see at 127 N. 2nd Avenue, near the corner of 9th Street.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

6,000 Tucsonans in the 4th Avenue underpass

It's not the crowd for the 4th Avenue Street Fair or the hundreds of runners and walkers from Meet Me at Maynard's. It's the faces of Tucsonans that (eventually will) line the walls of the underpass on panels.

The right-hand photo shows the title tile. It's at the southwest end of the tunnel. (As always, you can click on it for a larger view.)

The Tucson Portrait Project took the photos, and the murals are appearing one by one. Want to find someone? Type their first name into the search box at Then choose a face from the group of images you get to see a larger version and the person's name, as well as which of the panels you'll find it on.

You can see some of the photographer's favorite portraits and the artist statement on the Conrad Wilde Gallery page about the project.

Update (July 28, 2019): Those last two links are broken, but we've left them here for historical reasons. Unfortunately, the Project was never finished.

Rialto's short-time mural?

This mural on the Rialto Theatre greets people driving into downtown from the east. It's for the Sonic Youth concert on January 4th. After that, what will fill the space? (Check back with us... try the list of mural locations.) Joe Pagac painted it.

At the other end of the wall is another mural that's been there longer — and probably will stay longer, too.

Urban art on Herbert

You'll find this mural just south of 6th Street on Herbert Avenue (which is an alley a block west of Fourth Avenue).

First mural in "kindness corridor"

Last week, Philadelphia mosaic artist Isaiah Zagar led a team of volunteers to put up the first of a planned series of murals around the University of Arizona. The theme is kindness, and the murals should eventually stretch along University Blvd. and Fourth Avenue into downtown. The idea came from Ben's Bells founder Jeannette Maré-Packard. This first mural wraps around walls on the north side of a parking lot on Tyndall Avenue southeast of the corner with University (the back sides of the Campus Athletic store):

A closer view (two people; the one at left is wearing a hat):

And a closeup of the separate mural at the far right of the first photo above... I count at least three (or five?) animals in it:

Part of the mural are pieces of mirror. Stand close to see yourself and the scene behind you:

Update (May 13, 2012): There are new kindness murals in the works. See our post from earlier this morning, Kindness, part 2.

Update (August 6, 2015): Today we posted photos “A bit farther east…”

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Moving murals

On December 7, I spotted the Arizona Daily Star article Tucson Oddity: Graffiti-covered boxcars, site now store parts for old trolleys. About ten years ago, the story said, Old Pueblo Trolley let winners of a graffiti art contest paint the boxcars. The cars -- stored in a fenced lot at 10 N. Park Avenue, are about to be re-painted to look like they did in the mid-1950s. I grabbed my camera and got out there around noon yesterday:

The lot's fence is high, topped with razor wire, and you can't see much through it. Luckily, the gate was open. I walked in, chatted with two men who came out of the building that opens onto the lot, and I walked right up next to the cars. Here are two views of the mural on the south side (the far side of the right-hand boxcar in the first photo above):

The back of the other boxcar was harder to see -- close to the fence and half in shade. Here's what I got:

This is one more view -- facing the inside (northwest) corner of the two boxcars in the first photo, looking through a dilapidated trolley:

Soon these murals will be part of Tucson history. (By the way, a good place I've found to read and discuss Tucson history is at Vanishing Tucson.)

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Public Art at PCC East

The east campus of Pima Community College, 8181 E. Irvington Road, has public art around the grounds -- including modern sculpture along some of the central walks. Here are two murals.

Half-hidden mural

This tile mural at the William Clements Recreation Center, 8155 E. Poinciana Drive, was probably easier to see before the plants in front of it were as high as they are now.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Mystery murals

I call these "mystery murals" because I took a photo of them but didn't write where they were. I put a note on this blog, and mural-spotter extraordinare Warren V wrote back right away to tell me that they're on the east side of Stone, just north of Glenn. Thanks, Warren!

Update (January 8, 2024): We've posted more-detailed photos of the murals, a photo of a few of the children who helped paint it, and a list of everyone who contributed, in today's post "Mystery murals" 14 years later.

Tucson Mountains in Midtown

If you can't make it to the west side of town to see the Tucson Mountains close-up, try the southwest corner of E. Fort Lowell Road and N. Mountain Avenue. (This photo is from early morning on May 19, 2009.)

You can see this mural under construction in an entry from September 14, 2006.

Culture changes

Back in July, 2008, Warren V sent us a photo of Solar Culture Gallery at 31 E. Toole. Almost a year later, May 2009, that scene had changed. Here's a closeup of the new mural.

(Update: The mural had changed again by November, 2010.)

Monday, November 30, 2009

Arnold has company

Back in July of 2006, Randy snapped this photo of Arnold Schwarzenegger standing by himself on the back of the building at 1240 N. Stone Avenue.

This past May, as I was surveying all of the murals for the list of murals by location, I saw that the wall around Arnold was now filled with urban art:

(As always, you can click on the photo for a larger view. Use your browser's "back" button to come back here.)

This is one of a batch of photos I just found. I'll post more when I get a chance...

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Park along Park to see...

...this mural along a parking lot south of 375 Park Avenue. It's not easy to find, but here's a Google Maps satellite view that marks the spot. If you're driving, head along the Park Avenue Expressway and turn into the buildings just north of the Basket Bridge. Or, if you're on a bicycle, look east from the north end of the Basket Bridge — which is where I took this photo. (Remember that you can click on any photo for a larger view.)

Parking by an ocean...

…with a fanciful underwater (?) forest of saguaro and fish, or the sign of the now-closed Grande Tortilla Factory, or a train's smoke billowing a sea monster into the sky… it's all on the wall along the parking lot just west of the Tucson Museum of Art, along Paseo Redondo, east of Granada.

There are more murals around the corner.

Update (April 19, 2022): We posted closeup photos of the entire mural today in The ocean and more.

You can't miss this mural...

…though somehow we haven't put it onto this blog yet. It's on the east side of the entrance to Hotel Arizona, just at the place where Broadway and Congress merge.

(Update: Luis Mena painted this. There's more about him and the mural in the August 14, 2007 Tucson Citizen article Buildings are his canvases. You can also find an earlier story — from September 28, 2000, as the mural was being painted — in the Tucson Citizen archives: A brush with history. Unfortunately, those photos were lost.)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Seniors shine at Freedom Inn

Weekdays between 8:30 AM and 3 PM, you can walk in the entrance to the Freedom Inn at Ventana Canyon, 5660 N. Kolb, check in at the front desk, walk down the hall, and be taken away to New York, China, Egypt, and more. (San Francisco is coming soon.)

This is thanks to staff member Pam Stafford and, especially, the residents and their memories of the places they've been. (Many of the people who live at Freedom Inn are world travelers, Pam told me.)

Keeling neighborhood shines along Glenn

Glenn, just west of 1st Avenue is filled with public art. The photo above is part of a wraparound mural at the corner of York Place. (Yes, someone defaced that face in the foreground. Sad, isn't it, that some taggers have so little pride in their neighborhoods?) Just above the curb at the corners of the next two blocks west — Los Altos and Hopi — are small murals like this one:

As if the murals weren't enough, the island in the middle of Glenn is lined with colorful posts.

Thanks, Keeling neighborhood, for brightening a bit of Glenn!

Friday, July 10, 2009

While in Baghdad...

Until the Tucson Murals Project receives more photos, I'll just shoot murals wherever I happen to see them. I snapped these photos of two murals at Camp Victory in Baghdad, Iraq earlier this week. They are located just outside of a chow hall.

For more about my adventures in Iraq, visit my "Have News, Will Travel" blog.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Many more murals, no more time...

With Randy away in Iraq, I've been trying to pick up the slack this month… riding my bicycle around Tucson early in the morning, checking out murals that were already on this blog and finding new ones. I hope these new murals will keep you mural-lovers busy for a while! (While you're out exploring, please grab your camera and send photos of other murals you find to Randy.)

This scene, just after sunrise on the wall of 668 S. Main (at 18th St.), seemed like a good way to end a month's worth of murals.

Four photos at Five Points

Just west of Five Points on 18th Street is this block-long urban art. I took it in four (digital) photos and put them together with the filmstrip tool in GIMP, the powerful free image editor. (As always on this blog, you can click on the image to get a bigger view.)

More on Meyer

This mural, at 600 S. Meyer, was painted earlier this year (2009).

Update (July 9, 2012): Johanna Martinez painted the mural. You can read more about it, and see more of her work, on her Sage Brush Studio website. To see all of her murals on this blog, click on her name in the “Labels:” list below.

Marvelous Meyer

There are several murals along this street in the Barrio Viejo. (You can find others in the mural map.) This one's at 555 S. Meyer.

Update (May 31, 2019): Who was the artist? The scroll of paper near the bottom of the painting is signed “Francisco / 1990”:

Another painting in the same style, signed “Francisco” but without a date, is shown in today's blog entry Little mural painted for Patricia. If you know, please leave a comment below. (You can remain anonymous.)

Update (June 20, 2019): Thenks to David Aber for tracking down the artist. It's Francisco Franklin, a Tucson artist for 50 years. He sells other artwork, too; he's represented by Jane Hamilton Fine Art. His page on her website is

Carrillo School

This mural takes a bit of hunting to find -- unless you're at Carrillo School, that is. I caught this view across the street from 428 S. Samaniego.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Twelfth Street revisited

After reading Randy's story and photos of artist Cliff Brown painting murals, you might be surprised to know that there are even more murals here at 346 E. 12th! The first one you'll probably spot is this wraparound mosaic.

Thanks, Roadrunner Hostel, for giving Tucson visitors such an artistic welcome.

Update (October 20, 2014): A photo of the mural on the parking lot behind the hostel is on today's entry, Roadrunner's back.

Spider mural

Though a spider isn't the only feature of this mural on 5th at Congress, it looks amazingly realistic in this photo, wouldn't you say? As always, you can click on the photo for a larger view.

The main artists were Rock Martinez, Chris Rush, Eurice Gomez, Alex Fass, and about a dozen young artists.

(Update: Here's the same wall on October 19, 2010.)

Mural brightens motonony

Strip malls aren't always charming. But this one brightens its part of Broadway with colorful cactus. (The address is 1221 E. Broadway.)

Sunset at sunrise

Early summer mornings are a great time to go mural-hunting: the streets are quiet, the air is cool, and there's no one behind you honking as you slow down to gawk. (Even better, go on your bicycle!)

Somehow this mural — on the west side of the Roses & More building, Tucson Blvd. at Broadway — seems to me like a sunset view. The sun was rising as I snapped this photo.

Chris Andrews painted the mural.

Update (May 7, 2019): For more color, see today's entry More Roses & More photos from Chris Andrews.