Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Hello Tucson, Hello Philadelphia Murals: Part One

Exchanges among students have been greatly enhanced by technological advances. With cell phones, laptops, and digital cameras we can communicate with anyone in the world. In this project we are taking advantage of these devices by creating a cross country dialogue among young artists attending Kirkbride Elementary School in Philadelphia, PA and Drexel Elementary in Tucson, AZ. Students have created written, recorded and painted descriptions of their respective communities. I asked students to describe themselves, their school, their neighborhood and what was unique about their city. All this information was compiled to be used as reference material for a mural at each school. Students will get to see their work in on permanent display on the other side of the country. In addition to being a great arts project we are also learning about the cultural and ecological diversity of the United States, geography and social studies.

Hello Tucson Video - "In my neighborhood"

Hello Philadelphia Video - "In my neighborhood"

Last week I worked on the Tucson mural with students during the annual Arts Day. This amazing school wide arts festival immerses students in a day long exploration of the arts in a variety of media. The school principal Mrs. Escarcega (Mrs. E.) gave us gifts to bring back to the students in Philadelphia, as well as music and peacock feathers.

Drexel Elementary School is one of only 12 schools in Arizona who received the 2007 A + Exemplary Program Award for its Arts Day Extravaganza. This awards a testimony to the dedication of Arts Day coordinator Lupe Pressey and the school Principal Mrs. E.. Arts day features dance, music, story telling and visual arts. It is certainly a model for other school looking for ways to bring the arts into their schools.

The design for the Tucson mural features a central panel that I designed based on input from school staff, with the students images in the borders. The finished mural is on display in the library it celebrates the wonder of libraries, and the worlds that can be opened by books.

When I returned to the Philadelphia classroom I brought gifts of T-Shirts, music and images from Tucson. The kids watched in fascination as the Tucson students introduced themselves.

The project now continues with a mural in Philadelphia, that I’ll be reporting on in a few weeks.



Monday, March 24, 2008

Something about Tucson Murals. The Linda Avenue Mural

Tucson has a rich history of participatory, grassroots murals popping up on homes, retaining walls, businesses and community centers. Sometimes these are funded projects, sometime not. Many of these murals are infused with the spirit of this community. Tucson was one of the birthplaces of the Chicano mural movement in the mid 1970’s. This movement continued to grow and spread as part of a larger movement in the American west and southwest. Master muralists include Antonio Pazos, David Tineo, Alfred Quiroz, Luis Gustavo Mena, Martin Moreno and Roberto Castillo.

“Early murals celebrated Chicano cultural identity and such important political victories as the establishment of City-sponsored neighborhood centers in predominately Mexican American neighborhoods. (The term "Chicano," a slang pronunciation of "Mexicano," is taken here to refer to politically active Mexican Americans of the generations that are currently in their fifties and younger.) Many murals are created with community input, often with actual painting tasks being shared by neighborhood youth as well.” (source: Chicano Murals in Tucson )

While many of Tucson’s murals have been destroyed new works continue to sprout up. A great example is the Linda Avenue Mural led by David Tineo. It tells the multi layered story of Tucson. The mural is hard to find, you have to go into the neighborhood and look. It’s in the backyard of a county owned building that is slowly being transformed into a neighborhood arts and cultural resource center. Jodi and I met Mac Hudson to get a tour of the area and learn more about this fantastic mural. Mac had played an instrumental role in starting off the center and mural project.

The image that started the mural.

Originally the mural was only supposed to be a few feet wide. In the end the mural spanned more than 120 feet and hundreds of people had painted. The content of the mural was inspired by writings and interviews conducted by participants. The mural beams with life and energy and reads like a visual history of Tucson.

Another work recently unveiled adorns an overpass at 36th and 6th street in Tucson. It celebrates Tucson's radical roots, and continued struggle to preserve the unique history of the Old Pueblo amidst mass development. Tucson's murals and artworks tell a unique story, they represent the natural urge to paint murals that honor the places we live, our multi layered and interwoven histories. They are images that emerge from the grassroots with joy, warmth and passion.

To see other Tucson murals check out:

Randy Garsee's Tucson Murals Project
Chicano Murals in Tucson
Tucson Arts Brigade Murals


Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Carpe Diem

I was recently contacted by new friends in Greece who are working on some interesting projects. Their work brings together Graffiti and community art to result in some amazing murals. Here is more about their work.

The Carpe Diem was established by a group of people who keep on trying to push art and techniques of alternative form of culture. This group has an active presence in Greece since 1991 in different sections, from the art of Graffiti to skate and bmx.

The spring of 2002 and through collective procedures the group obtained the legal form of an association with the distinctive title "Carpe Diem' aiming at a more completed saying and presence on this field.

The Carpe Diem's intention is to push art and techniques of an alternative form of culture like for instance: graffiti, aerographic, tattoo, the sports of bmx , skate and inline, dance and music, the road theatre.


One of the first aims of Carpe Diem is to push the culture of graffiti.

The "Carpe Diem graffiti group" was established unofficially in 1995 by the photographer Kiriakos Iosifidis and the graffiti artist Vangelis Hoursoglou (Woozy) with the intention to support fine art interventions and graffiti creations, legally, giving the artists the choice and the place to express themselves.

The group is surrounded by artists of the graffiti field from Greece and foreign countries.

The "Carpe Diem graffiti group' with the technique of graffiti and the professional artists of international validity, available by its classes, has proceeded to fine art interventions on the gray sites of the big cities. For instance the "Carpe Diem graffiti group' has made two fine art interventions with big wall paintings, one at the municipality of Taurus on Piraeus st. and another one at the Vasdekion athletic center of New Ionia municipality at Magnesia.

The festivals the Carpe Diem graffiti group' organizes are complemented with displays and completions of skateboard and bmx with music by dj's and break dance.

This is succeeded with the close cooperation the group has developed with people all over the range of those of the x-treme games.

Carpe Diem has published two books with photos from the beginning of the graffiti scene in Greece. Also Carpe Diem publishes the wellknown graffiti magazine Carpe Diem, quarterly.

For more information check out the link above or contact:

Text and images © copyright 2002 Carpe Diem and the artists.