Tucson Murals (Downtown) You Must See in Person!
The Oracle knows that over the years Tucson has become known for its burgeoning art scene, and the Wall Street Journal recently named it a mini mecca for the arts. With a good selection of art galleries, museums and a rich filmmaking history it's no wonder that all this artistic talent has spilled over to the streets of the city in the form of STREET MURALS. Of course there are many reasons to visit Tucson, including exciting Tucson events like the rodeo or the Tucson Gem Show, but we think Tucson is worth a visit just to see its murals. They have become an appealing attraction and hugely popular with locals and tourists that visit the city. The Oracle is here to show you where to find some of the best ones.
Greetings from Tucson
Victor Ving started out as a graffiti artists and created this mural with the help of photographer Lisa Beggs. Each letter in the word TUCSON depicts a typical Tucson landmark like the Hotel Congress or sunset at Gates Pass. Since designing this mural they have become part of the Greetings Tour project. For the past few years the couple have traveled around the USA in an RV painting similar postcard style murals. They are planning to design one for all 50 states. Lisa and Ving hope that their work revitalizes the neighbourhoods that their murals are in and that their positive creations capture the area's local culture and landmarks. If you don't have one of these designs yet in your state then keep a sharp eye out. You can hope to see one appearing soon. The Oracle hopes so too!
The 'Agave Lady'
Situated right at one of the main entry points to the city of Tucson is the Agave Lady, a beautiful mural depicting Rock Martnez's girlfrind Brandi Watson. The piece is officially tiltled "The Goddess of Agave" and is located on 7th Avenue. Rock is a Tucson native and gravitated towards Mexican mural art from a young age. Starting out as a graffiti artist he now works on several murals and art installations across the city of Tucson as well as creating other pieces that can be seen in Minneapolis. He focuses on bright creating cross cultural pieces that bring hope to the community. The Agave Lady is created using spray paint on cement and measures 60x70 feet. That's a lot of paint cans! The artists Rock Martinez has been quoted as saying that "she is basically a representation of the desert. His hope is that the piece speaks to the people, however they interpret it, and that it stay up long enough to become an icon of the community. He would like it to remain so long that he has to come back to touch it up when he is old.
Jack and Bill
If, like The Oracle, you appreciate a touch of humor in your artwork then you should take the time to see the Jack and Bill mural by Ignacio Garcio. It has a touch of whimsy about it depicting a jackalope with Bill Walton, the former basketball announcer, riding on its back. Bill is sporting a wide grin as the creature almost appears to leap off the brick canvas. It is located on 5th Street between Broadway Blvd. and Congress St. The artist, Ignacio Garcia is a Tucson native that hopes the piece brings joy to those who see it. He spends many hours researching before creating a piece and wants his artwork to speak for itself. He hopes to inspire new local artists to find their own creativity and leave their own mark on the city.
All Souls Procession
This unique mural takes up a whole block length. It is located at 9th Ave. and University Blvd. and depicts a parade of figures performing acrobatic stunts and wearing masks. It was designed and painted by local artist Susan Kay Johnson. She is known for founding the city's annual All Souls Procession, and annual event to commemorate the dead which attract 100,000 visitors a year to Tucson. The mural is a reflection of the yearly festival and the artist continues to be involved in the celebrations. Susan Kay Johnson is local to Tucson, and The Oracle knows that she also designs watercolors, oil paintings, masks and sculptures.
The Celestial Couple
This is a stunning and colorful mural by Ruben Moreno located on Toole Ave. The creation is based on a version of Mayan Mythology according to the artist. It depicts the Moon Goddess (PU) and the Sun God named Awah K'in or Kinich Ahau. Are you are wondering what the symbols are that are floating around the duo? The Oracle can share that they are in fact the names of the 20 days in the Mayan calendar. The mural is designed to celebrate all life in the universe, and the connection between the planets, sun and moon. It is a popular piece with many visitors to Tucson who include it in their Tucson itinerary of things to do.
Located just around the corner from The Celestial Couple is the mural EI Jefe by Tucson artist Kati Astraeir. This amazing artwork was created to celebrates the life of the endangered jaguars which can be found south of Tucson in the Santa Rita mountains. The mural is 8 feet high by 20 feet long. For those that don't know 'El Jefe' means 'The Chief' or 'The Boss'. As part of an endangered species project this was funded by the center for Biological Diversity. The artist reports that after she has been approached to create the piece she saw a jaguar in a dream. From there the piece was designed and brought to life. However she came up with idea, The Oracle suggests that you go and see this extraordinary work.
This highly detailed and unique piece can be found at the back of borderlands brewery. It shows a desert scene that depicts multiple images of humans adorned with the bodies of desert animals. The artwork takes up one and a half stories of the brewery wall, including part of the roof. If you go to see this particular mural, The Oracle suggests that you spend some time up close to capture the details and discover the nuances of this work. The artist Joe Pagac is well known on the downtown Tucson arts scene and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Arts Program.
At the north of the downtown area is another of Joe Pagac's murals. This gigantic piece depicts several bike riders, human and animal. A cowboy leaping from his seat rodeo style and a woman riding a bike with her dress blowing in the wind. Overall the mural measures a total of 130 feet long and 30 feet high and is the largest mural in Tucson. Without a doubt its sheer scale is impressive and you only really get a true impression of how large this painting is when you stand next to it. The gargantuan piece was made possible by a series of fund raising efforts from the crowd sourced Kickstarter website. In total 302 people contributed to the project and more money than needed was raised to create the mural. Joe kindly listed the names of everyone that donated to the project on the right side of the mural. The Oracle things that's pretty nice of him.
For this creation the artist, Isaac Caruso, wanted to create a design that conveyed his impression of Tucson. He tries to use imagery that gives his pieces a visual identity connected to the site of the murals. Isaac has a Bachelors of Fine Arts degree from Northern Arizona University and is originally from Phoenix. His bright and cheery design uses oranges surrounded by blossoms and greenery set in front of a dramatic blue background. Right in the middle is a bird that reflects an artistic and optimistic spirit. Do you know what the bird is? The Oracle does. It's a Quail which is a bird often seen scurrying through the bushes on the outskirts of town.
Another mural from the popular Joe Pagac, this time featuring an atmospheric underwater scene. To get the look and capture the expressions that he wanted for the piece apparently Joe paid homeless men and women to sit for him. It has created a beautiful piece that emotes an almost surreal quality. The mural is located on Toole Ave. in downtown Tucson and The Oracle thinks that you should definitely go and see this poignant mural. The message that the artist wanted to convey was seeing beauty in everyday things that one might normally dismiss as ugly or unappealing.
This original piece was originally designed for the Urban Nation project in Berlin. It was removed and then recreated by artists Fin Dac when he came to Tucson. Fin is a mural painter of international renown and is based in London. He is originally from Ireland and is largely a self taught muralist. His mural depicts a quiet and powerful looking woman that looks to be of Eastern origin, and the piece was designed to reflect female empowerment in the wake of the #metoo movement. Using dramatic shading and impactful imagery Fin's work is easily identifiable, and he has done many pieces around the world and for exhibitions. His subject matter is often one of masked women depicted in various poses. This mural happens to be downtown and very near several other great murals. Making a vacation out of seeing Tucson's many murals? Check out the Oracle's list of great boutique hotels downtown including the Royal Elizabeth and the Downtown Clifton.
Creation Story, Chaos Theory, and Quantum Memory
This mural features the typically bright and bold color work of artist To-Ree-Nee Wolf. Using her native American heritage she designed the mural Creation Story, Chaos Theory and Quantum Memory. The mural relates the artists views on the nature of existing and finding your place in the world. Wolf's piece was commissioned as part of the Tucson Arts Brigade Mural Project. To-Ree-Nee Wolf is a Tucson/Philadelphia based artist, musician and actor. She says that she knows how it feels to be 'outside' of everyone else and Creation Story, Chaos Theory and Quantum memory reflects aspects of that in its design.
Tucson as a city has a rich heritage of supporting the artistic efforts of its residents. The Arizona University has an extensive Arts program that is recognized across the entire USA. As an extension of the University there is also an on-campus Arts Museum which holds exhibits and displays from all around the world and contains thousands of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and other pieces. There are also an increasing number of art programs that residents can participate in, and several are purposely designed to capture the imagination of the city's younger generation. This gives them an outlet and an opportunity to enhance their creative skills and expression.
The Tucson Mural Project has become a popular and ongoing project for the city and new pieces are being commissioned and added regularly. The latest news is that 4 more exciting murals are being added in Spring/Summer 2019.