Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Our Voice, Our Land

Along the alley between 24th & 25th Streets, just west of 4th Avenue (and a block north of the boundary of South Tucson!) is this long mural:
The address Google Maps shows is 1430 S. 4th Avenue, but that's actually a building along the alley. The mural is on the opposite side. (The GPS coordinates are 32.204220, -110.965675… but just walk along 4th Avenue and turn west into the alley.)

I took the photo on November 27, 2022.

Friday, January 27, 2023

(Painting the) Block Party

First, here's the block from the sky (thanks, BG Boyd Photography!):
It was the morning of October 22, 2022. Living Streets Alliance and Tucson's Department of Transportation and Mobility hosted the 6th Avenue Block Painting Party, or the Fiesta en la Calle Para Pintar la Sexta Avenida (there were signs for both).

Start of the day

The day started early with lots of volunteers and staff setting up. Artist Yu Yu Shiratori painted outlines on the street for people to paint. I stopped by at 8:45 AM. That turned out to be too early to see many people painting, but it let me get some photos. (I'm really short on time today, so I'm not editing the photos to look their best.)

I headed home a while after 9 AM. (I just missed crossing paths with drone videographer/photographer BG Boyd, who I've never met but have collaborated with a lot online… you've seen his work on this blog plenty of times.)


I wondered when the painting would be nearly finished, and I guessed 11:45 AM. The party wasn't over, but it was wrapping up.

Street murals tend to fade pretty quickly, so see these when you can! (I hope the planters will live for a long time…)

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Black Crow Tattoo

On the side of Black Crow Tattoo next to its parking lot are four murals. From left to right:

I took these photos on taken September 20, 2022, so the murals could have changed by now. (I'm out of town and can't check.) But these murals hadn't changed in the two years since I first came to the parking lot.

The murals on the opposite side of the parking lot are changing. (In May, 2021, they used to be the first Living Mural.) I'm aiming to post an update on that wall in March or April.

Friday, January 20, 2023

All around a mural maze

The building at 191-197 East Toole Avenue downtown is weirdly-shaped…

… with five sides at odd angles, wedged between the north-south 6th Avenue and the northwest-southeast Toole Avenue. The murals are usually as eclectic as the building.

BG Boyd Photography sent this aerial photo from the opposite side taken October 22, 2022 (thanks, as always!):
This blog's page Layers of murals: histories of a few walls lists the zillions of blog posts over the past ten-plus years where we've been showing photos of this beast. If you haven't seen many of the photos, I think you'd have fun browsing those posts. (After you click on a post, use your browser's "back" or left-arrow button to go back to where you started.)

Two months ago — November 18, 2022 — I took a walk around the building to show you the latest version of all the walls. (I skipped a couple of murals next to the parking lot on the northwest side because cars covered parts of the murals… I'll include links to earlier photos of those. Also on the northwest side, the longstanding Rialto Theatre marquee mural was about to be repainted by Jessica Gonzales… I'll show before-and-after photos of that.)

I put captions above a mural or group of murals so you can see the info as you scroll down. Here goes!

On the left end of the southwest-facing wall (along Toole) is a place that might be best-known as Skrappys (no apostrophe), a gathering place with concerts and etc. Now there's just “191 Toole”:
I'm not sure if the rainbow-painted garage is technically part of 191. The inside of this forner warehouse is a maze, and I don't remember what's where.

Next to the right is Studio ONE A Space for Art and Activism; click there for their Facebook page. It's been in this building for years. I believe they've painted at least some of the murals on the east wall of this building, which we'll see at the end of this tour:
At the right end of the southwest-facing wall is BLX. It's been in (at least) two other locations over the years, and it's always had murals. My favorite was their location at Toole and 7th Avenues, where they had a ramp on the wall of their store so skateboarders could skate by a mural — which changed every few months. The September 19, 2016 post More posts, more Mark (more BLX!) has lots of the story and links that will take you to other murals. Here's the scene two months ago:

The southernmost corner isn't actually a corner. It's a tall and narrow flat area. Of course, it has a mural:
The east-facing wall (along 6th Avenue) has always been the place with a series of big murals. Here's a photo of the corner and the wall past it:
Even the low safety wall in front of the building wall is painted!
You have to stand on the other side of 6th Avenue to see the whole thing. First, a photo of the whole wall; then closeups from left to right:

According to an Instagram post from @luxx.arte on August 10, 2021, the mural at the right side of the next-to-last photo above — the one with the Arizona Wildcat — was painted by Luxxarte member @lucksalway_aho from True Descendants.

The middle mural has a lot of detail. Here's a photo of just this mural (note the door; it opens into an interior hallway):
As you can see in the Google Maps satellite view at the start of this post, the northeast side of the building is behind railroad tracks. During November, it was harder to get close to the tracks — and take photos through the fence by the tracks — because construction for the Downtown Links road project made me walk around from 6th Street, then through a gate that was (luckily) open. Here's the view, then closeups from left to right:

I walked back to 6th Street and along 6th Avenue and Toole to reach the fourth wall, the northwest side, with a parking lot along it. The blog already has photos of two of the murals. On June 12, 2016, we showed the wall in transition, including a photo of Joe Pagac's mural at the left end: A few bold underwater humans and alien fish (?). The white space in that post's first photo was replaced by a Danny Martin mural of Ted DeGrazia and a marquee that advertised upcoming shows at the Rialto Theatre: Rialto-style marquee on Toole goes all “Black Lives Matter”. Probably the most famous was Jackie Daytona mural in Tucson, Arizonia. In mid-December, 2022, Jessica Gonzales (and her new husband, I think) replaced everything to the right of Ted DeGrazia with a colorful new marquee mural, shown in this photo (thanks!) by BG Boyd Photography:
Jessica posted a photo of the mural complete with its first Rialto Theatre listing to Instagram on December 16th. (Instagram may require you to log in.)

The mural is surrounded by a background that I'm guessing is a mural sponsorship for The Prime Leaf, a business with two locations listed at the top. Jessica didn't mention this in her Instagram post… if I find out more, I'll update this post. (If you know, please either submit a comment at the end of this post — you can be anonymous — or use the "Contact Us" form along the right edge of this page.)

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

Street art hotspot: Valparaiso, Chile

Although this is the Tucson Murals Project, once in a while I include murals from another place. Last time, I showed street art in one of the biggest cities in cental/southern Chile, Valdivia. If I'd realized then how much more spectacular the street art is in Valparaíso, I might have waited and only posted here. But if that was good, this is even better!

For a larger view of any mural, click/tap on it.


I'll start with an overview of Valpo (as locals call it), say a bit about what's behind graffiti, then show lots of photos — mostly, non-graffiti murals. There are plenty of spectacular non-graffiti murals! Unfortunately, I didn't have time to edit all 70 of these photos… so they're a bit rough.

The city is in a spectacular setting on the Pacific coast, with buildings along streets that climb steeply into hills. (A series of acensores — basically, outdoor elevators — save pedestrians a real workout getting where they're going.) But, like the other cities I've visited, businesses and homes are marred — or, if you prefer, decorated — by graffiti everywhere. Here's an example from the side of a hill overlooking the coast below:
My first full day, I walked for nine or ten hours. Almost everywhere I walked, there was street art — usually, graffiti — on both sides, reaching at least two or three meters (up to 10 feet) high. Although I didn't visit much of Chile, graffiti was almost everywhere I went… but Valpo takes it to a higher level. I also saw literally hundreds of murals — and that was avoiding the side streets and alleys where I didn't feel safe going. (There's lot of crime here.) Valparaíso is known worldwide for its murals, and it's obvious as soon as you hit the streets. Here's some of what I saw:

Although a lot of graffiti is a bunch of letters — for instance, the artist's name — there's much more behind it. I've known some of what's behind this kind of street art, but I learned more on a street art tour from Valpo Street Art Tours. That's how I started my weekend here. (That's their logo to the right. The heart you'd usually see has been replaced by a spray paint cap. 😎)
Here are some things I learned from the guide. They might be different in Tucson or other places! (If you know better, please leave a comment below — you can be anonymous — or use the “Contact Us” form a ways down the right edge of this page.)

#1: Muralismo (muralism) that we see in the Americas started in Mexico in the years of the Revolution (around 1920) with artists like Rivera, Orozco and Siqueiros painting large murals on politics and people’s rights. (You can still see their work on public buildings all around Mexico.) Siqueiros came to Chile in the 1940s at the invitation of Pablo Neruda, a communist (and Nobel laureate in poetry) who wanted to spread the word in a big (literally!) way.

I don't have photos of any of the earliest murals.Here's a mural with communist themes… ironically, the mural is on what's now a popular restaurant, Gato en la Ventana:
The first mural here was painted by the BRP (Brigada Ramona Parra), the first muralist group in Chile, in the late 1960s. The current mural dates from 2019.

#2: In Tucson, it used to be that murals wouldn't be tagged (written on with graffiti). But in the past decade or so, taggers have started to trash murals too. The guide said that, when a mural has been tagged, another artist will recognize the tagger and write TOY or TOYS over their tag. That means “Tag Over Your Sh*t”. (I found more info on the GraffitiHeart.org Glossary and graffiti.fandom.com.) Here's our guide pointing out an example:
#3: Graffiti here doesn't often mark territory of, say, a gang. It's more designed as art — often, the artist's name. Although graffiti is illegal here, there's no stopping it: If a building is cleaned one day, she said, the next day it will have been painted again. Here's a business that obviously hasn't tried to clean their front side:

#4: The term graffiti came from ancient Rome. Our guide said the word came from graphite, the material used to make the graffiti. The article History of Graffiti in Rome: from Pompeii to the Metro B (which is interesting reading about graffiti in general!) says that Britannica traces the word back to the Italian graffio, meaning “scratch.”

OK, enough of the lecture!

Murals about their location

A couple of blocks from my hotel was a hospital. Murals there were about — no surprise — medicine:

Un Kolor Distinto

This couple from Valparaíso have gone from painting simple graffiti — throw-ups, which are usually a few letters or a word in puffy “marshmallow” style, our guide said — to painting high-rise buildings. (Their story, on a web page from 2014 that I hope doesn't vanish, is UnKolorDistinto: Valparaiso’s Street Artists Sammy and Cynthia.) Here are a few of their works.

This mural starts from a plant at street level:

The bottom of the next mural surrounds a roll-up door which, luckily, was closed while I was there:

And the front of a store, from right to left:

Lots more photos!

These are in no particular order. I'll add comments above a few of them:

The next mural shows a cat: “Juan Carlos 2013-2019.” It says “Sin liberación animal, no hay revolución social” (“Without animal liberation, there is no social revolution”):

The whole mural followed by a closeup of the left side:

There are lots of stray dogs in Valpo! This one is taking a snooze at a market in front of a mosaic mural:

The next muralist, DRË, is a fan of science. His signature is in the shape of an organic molecule:

Next time, it's back to our regularly scheduled Tucson murals!