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