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The murals of Tucson   March 2013

Photographing murals is a lot like photographing war memorials. They can be hard to find, and once you do find them it is easy to forget to look around for adjacent parts of the design. It is very difficult to recover any information about them, and some of them were placed with very little regard to how they might be seen.

All the same, a rewarding way to spend a sunny day in Tucson. There are over 500 murals in Tucson.
Is that a record? The Tucson Murals Project has a blog at

The most famous mural in Tucson is called the “Tatoo” mural, for obvious reasons.
550 E. 29th between 2nd and Euclid.


2. At 29th and 4th there is another, smaller, more traditional and more beautiful one by Las Artes.  
Christina Cardenas, 1999
A little medievialism from the restaurant across the street

3. Going down 29th toward I-10 I found two more, both worth seeing. First, a few blocks down, at a MacDonald's:

4. I liked this one better--somewhat abstract, somewhat representational.

No idea what it is, as a mural. On the whole, 29th street seems pretty bleak.

5. There's a huge mural at the now-closed Hotel Arizona, 181 W. Broadway, by Luis Mena: Coronado and the Cities of Gold.

It is hard to see, since it faces the street and so can’t be seen well except on foot in a neighborhood that has little foot traffic. That's a flowering plant to the left of the stop sign, not something on the mural. Progressives will like the placement of the stop sign, no doubt.

El Rio Community Center
The mural by David Tineo at the El Rio Neighborhood Center has been added to several times.
I missed some parts of it first time around. Plantings have been allowed to obscure parts of the main mural
at the front. (Some of the artwork is by others; the mural in front is by Tineo.)
Speedway Drive looks pretty bleak too!
View to the north, left, and to the south, right; visual relief in the playground, below.

Farmer John, Grant Road at Flowing Wells. This is the most painful one to visit. It was created by a man
who painted sets in Hollywood and it must have been marvelous. The plant has been turned
into a tourist attraction (a house of horrors) and much of the mural is now defaced or hard to see.

A wealth of lovely detail, really charming, and disappearing.

And big!

8. On Anita Street, near the Anita Market (worth a visit), at the corner of Grant and Anita, on a school
Having to do with a mariachi band, it seems.
Whoever lives in 666, that person has some nifty ideas about doors and gates.
The dog was not too pleased to be disturbed, but he did make it into both pictures.
9. The Anita Market itself has two murals
The juxtaposition of religious imagery and gang signs (manacle, chain, fist, fire,
and what's that man holding in his hands up there?) is notable.
10. Oury Park, Contzen Ave. and I-10.
I'll have to see what I can learn about this one, very large and well done.

A lot of text; the mural is hard to read.
On the right, below, the field across from the mural, saying something like
"When the lowly move up, the might fall." But I am just approximating.

11. A mile or so down Contzen Ave. (Contzen Ave. at St. Mary’s Road) there’s another
big one along the freeway. I have no idea what it’s about.

There were two softball games in progress in the park, so I could not get closer.

12. On a minor note, a regularly-updated mural at the Rialto Theater, 318 E. Congress, by Joe Pagas.

13. The mural is the least of the charms of 6300 North Swan, which has a fine museum
for the work of Ted DeGrazia (6300 N. Swan Road). A celebrated tourist attraction and worth a visit.

  The other buildings are older and humbler and good to visit, and the mountains behind make a beautiful backdrop.

Visited March 29, 2014
posted April 3, 2014