Tucson

Tucson’s Newest Murals–Impressive!

These two showed up since my last visit to the Old Pueblo. And there are apparently six or eight more I need to locate…

 

This masterpiece, near 6th Street and Stone, was painted earlier this summer by Joe Pagac, a cycling enthusiast and, obviously, a very talented mural artist. Go to his Kickstarter page HERE for more details and the thoughts behind his imagery:

Tucson Mural Walk, #1. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Tucson Mural Walk, #1. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

 

Across the street from Joe’s mural is the old Tucson Warehouse building, a structure I’ve always admired for its classic signage on the roof (unfortunately, due to storm damage, missing all but the wheels of the Mayflower moving truck). As of the summer of 2016, thanks to the Tucson Mural Arts Program, it has been adorned with a new and impressive work called “Goddess of Agave”, by Cristina Perez.

Tucson Mural Walk, #2. Tucson, Arizona, 2017
Tucson Mural Walk, #2. Tucson, Arizona, 2017

Desert Skies

Some color photographs from a few days ago…

The camera was the Sony RX-100iv and the location was the Babad Do’ag (Frog Mountain) Viewpoint just a couple of miles up the side of the Catalinas on the Mt. Lemmon Highway:

 

Often, the best light is well before sunrise. Those are the Rincon Mountains on the left and the Santa Rita Mountains, with Mt. Wrightson (9,453′), farther away on the right:

Desert Dawn. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016
Desert Dawn. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016

 

By actual sunrise, much of the color has gone away, but the texture of the sky is still quite attractive:

Desert Sky, #1. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016
Desert Sky, #1. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016

 

Always with my head in the clouds:

Desert Sky, #2. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016
Desert Sky, #2. Near Tucson, Arizona, 2016

Sunrise, Sentinel Park (Tucson, AZ)

First Light Over the City. Tucson, Arizona, 2015 (Mt. Wrightson and the Santa Rita Range is on the horizon.)
First Light Over the City. Tucson, Arizona, 2015 (Mt. Wrightson and the Santa Rita Range are on the horizon. Blurred lines show the commuters coming up from points south, and an airliner approaching the airport.)

 

Can’t decide on a place to go for sunrise or sunset photography whilst hanging out in the Old Pueblo? Don’t have a lot of time? Then consider a Sentinel Park outing–it is a very quick trip from most anywhere in Tucson and and it provides for some nice views of the city and the surrounding mountain ranges.

Take Broadway to the west (it will change to Congress as you weave through the downtown area), pass under the Interstate, then continue westward (ho!) until the road jogs 90 degrees right–you go left here (follow the signs).

Sentinel Park, or “A Mountain” (2,897′) as it might be called by locals, is open from 8a.m. to 8p.m., so figure that in to your sunrise/sunset photography schedule.

If the park is closed (obvious, as the huge metal barriers will be down), simply park off the road, walk up the pavement, and you’ll be on top in 20 minutes or so.

 

A few monochrome images of what you might find…

Dawn partiers in the middle of the giant “A” (University of Arizona!)–and a lurking photographer’s shadow:

Dawn Party On A Mountain. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Dawn Party On A Mountain. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

A tragic story of life and death on the mountain. He didn’t even make it to 18 years:

Memorial to Rafael. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Memorial to Rafael. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Stone ruins provide a canvas for graffiti artists:

Finding Graffiti. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Finding Graffiti. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

The welcome sign:

Sentinel Park Sign. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Sentinel Park Sign. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

Barrio Viejo de Tucson, Colores

Mural, Barrio Viejo. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Mural, Barrio Viejo. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

NOTE: For a little chicano visual history from the 1940s through the 1950s (zoot suits!), and some movin’ music, check out this Lalo Guerrero YouTube video. Or maybe this video of Lalo singing “Tacos for Two” at the age of 82, some seven years before his death in 2005.

 

A really nice photo walk area of Tucson is the Barrio Viejo area just south of the downtown Convention Center. Some have called this the oldest continually inhabited neighborhood in the Americas–if you discount Native American settlements such as Oraibi, that is. So, from a Euro-centric viewpoint, this might be true.

In recent years it has turned in to a very fashionable place to live and many of the old, crumbling, 19th and early 20th century adobe buildings have been completely restored and refurbished. On this particular day, I noticed a few of these now very modern homes for sale (expect to pay a premium!) as well as a handful of original adobe structures still waiting for buyers with the money, time, energy, and vision to fix them up.

I remember visiting the Barrio Viejo back in the mid-80s with an artist friend. Back then, the run down neighborhood was still sort of a marginal, perhaps even dangerous, place to live–at least from the perspective of the majority of whites living “north of the tracks” in Tucson. The folks we visited, though–artists as well–loved it there and had restored their old adobe structure beautifully. They found this multi-ethnic area of Tucson to be a rewarding place to put down roots.

Is this yet another gentrification story in the making? Perhaps. Although there is still quite a generous mix of the old and the new to be seen as you walk the streets of the area.

Here are a few color images from my photo stroll last Friday morning early (yet another “photo essay”), as the sun rose in a perfect blue Arizona sky, casting long shadows against the many-hued adobe walls…

 

This would have been the happenin’ place one hundred years ago!

Teatro Carmen, Entrada. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Teatro Carmen, Entrada. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Ripe for restoration:

Rooms To Let. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Rooms To Let. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

An elegant door portrait from the Barrio Viejo:

Elegant Doors. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Elegant Doors. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Renovations often try to retain as much of the old flavor as might be possible. In this case, root beer flavor:

Root Beer Five Cents. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Root Beer Five Cents. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Red wall and shadows:

The Blue Door. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
The Blue Door. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

The sign refers to a local immigration situation in which Rosa Robles Loreto, mother of two young children, has taken refuge in a church for the past six months to avoid deportation and, thus, separation from her family:

Stand With Rosa. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Stand With Rosa. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Neat and trim:

Green Trim. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Green Trim. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Maybe someone left in a hurry? Note the chicken wire. This is one of the first layers of preparation prior to reapplying new stucco on the exterior wall:

Ajar. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Ajar. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Absence of color, in this case:

White Door. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
White Door. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Making a statement:

Black Lives Door. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Black Lives Door. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

The poem on the mural: “Esta es mi vida. Esta es mi amor. Que pasa mi vida tranquilo. Sin tristesa y sin dolor.” (A bit TexMex-ish…One spelling and one grammar error in these opening lines.) This wonderful work was done, with much love, in 1990 by Francisco:

Private Mural. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Private Mural. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Here, they have kept the old advert paint mostly intact, despite a renovation of the stucco:

Yerbas Mexicanas. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Yerbas Mexicanas. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Just outside the Barrio Viejo, a perspective on the Syrian refugee crisis:

No Fear. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
No Fear. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

La Conquista, Mural Detail

This is a detail study of an old mural in the Barrio Viejo of Tucson, right next door to Teatro Carmen on South Meyer.

To me, capturing just this portion of the entire mural–with the peeling paint, the deep cracks through the face of the a helmeted Spaniard, and the skull “buried” below a galloping horse–does more to sum up the nature of the “Conquista” and its eventual aftermath (the fall of the Spanish Empire) than a broader photographic image of the entire painting would have done.

I am not even sure my interpretation is at all close to the original intent of the muralist, but this is how I chose to frame the composition–and tell the story–on this particular warm, near-winter, day in the Sonoran Desert.

La Conquista. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
La Conquista. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

Some Statistics for Worriers

Tucson Adobe Angles. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Tucson Adobe Angles. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

Using 2011 statistics from the U.S. Department of State and the U.S. Center for Disease Control, Washington’s Blog reports:

 

“– You are 17,600 times more likely to die from heart disease than from a terrorist attack

– You are 12,571 times more likely to die from cancer than from a terrorist attack

— You are 11,000 times more likely to die in an airplane accident than from a terrorist plot involving an airplane

— You are 1048 times more likely to die from a car accident than from a terrorist attack

–You are 404 times more likely to die in a fall than from a terrorist attack

— You are 87 times more likely to drown than die in a terrorist attack

– You are 13 times more likely to die in a railway accident than from a terrorist attack

–You are 12 times more likely to die from accidental suffocation in bed than from a terrorist attack

–You are 9 times more likely to choke to death on your own vomit than die in a terrorist attack

–You are 8 times more likely to be killed by a police officer than by a terrorist

–You are 8 times more likely to die from accidental electrocution than from a terrorist attack

– You are 6 times more likely to die from hot weather than from a terrorist attack”

Junk food for thought for those who like to be worry warts, don’t you think?

And to counter which threat do we spend billions? And in the face of what awful threat have we sacrificed many of our freedoms of privacy and of movement and travel? What evil threat has induced us to fight wars costing billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives?

Naturally, we need to protect ourselves from terrorism–both domestic and international. You sure can’t let it grow and get out of hand. Some may even argue that it has been our vigorous spending and aggressive military and law enforcement policies that have prevented terrorism from being a major killer.

Maybe. Maybe.

But that seems a bit far-fetched to me…terrorism would have to do a whole lot of killing (a World War II level of killing, actually, not just 9-11 stuff) to move up the chart to rival cancer, obesity, heart disease, traffic accidents, gun deaths, and so on.

So, lets at least put it all into perspective: Terrorists are really a bunch of wimps when it comes to killing people–hell, as assassins they aren’t even worth as much as your own vomit!

Just say “No!” to paranoia and fear, America!

 

Memorial to a Fellow Cyclist

"David Galvez" Memorial. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
Francisco “David” Galvez Memorial. Tucson, Arizona, 2015

 

It seems to happen with depressing regularity wherever there is a heavy mix of motor vehicle and bicycle traffic (yes, even when there are established bike lanes)…a cyclist is hit, and severely injured or killed.

In the Boulder area, it seems like Highway 36, stretching out to Lyons, is the danger zone. In Tucson, the Catalina Highway, leading up to the popular 6,000′ climb of Mt. Lemmon, is now named the Brad P. Gorman Memorial Highway as a direct result of a 4-wheel v. 2-wheel tragedy. His story was big news in September of 1999 and eventually resulted in the passing of a “three-foot passing rule” in Arizona. The 17-year old who hit Brad was fined $66 for unsafe passing. And so it goes…

Yes, the cyclist always loses.

At the intersection of First Avenue and Navajo Road, in Tucson, you will find a memorial to yet another sad steel-flesh encounter in the form of a white-painted “ghost bike” and a memory box. The story behind it is as unfortunate as all the others, but with a twist.

You see, it was an on-duty policeman in an unmarked vehicle who hit and killed Francisco “David” Galvez that night in early November of last year. A witness to the accident, in an interview, implies that the driver of the vehicle was maneuvering in an unusual and aggressive manner. One wonders if the internal police investigation will be complete and fair, although the police chief assures us it will be.

The nickname “David”, by the way, came from the biblical David and Goliath story…it seems this man was a spirited soul regardless of the odds. So we’ll see how the investigation unfolds as the entrenched power structure (the giant, you might say) confronts the relative weakness of one grieving family on the community battlefield.

One moving fact: there is also a huge 30-foot flower sculpture (creators: Jason Butler and Hiro Tashima) beside the spot where David died. It wasn’t planned that way, but it certainly serves as a fitting memorial to honor a fellow cyclist who was forced to ride away into a desert sunset well before his time.

So, lets all try our best to be careful out on the roads, whether we are cycling, walking, or driving.

And smooth riding to you, David.

The Flower Scupture. Tucson, Arizona, 2015
The Flower Scupture. Tucson, Arizona, 2015