Thursday, April 26, 2012


 The Tucson Arts Brigade (TAB) is proud to announce the completion of our latest project, “Inside the Overpass” at 29th Street and Columbus Blvd. The official mural unveiling is on Wednesday, May 9th, from 3:30pm to 6:30pm, and will also feature art from youth participant portfolios, speakers, featured guests, live music, food, and more. The public is encouraged to attend this free event. This mural is part of TAB’s countywide “Beautify and Unify” initiative.

This project represents two years of hard work by youth ages 8-18 at the Jim & Vicki Click Boys & Girls Club, which is adjacent to the overpass mural. With the help of Tucson Arts Brigade's Executive Director and Teaching Artist, Michael B. Schwartz, assistants Linda Kerr, Molly Moore, and Kathleen Murphy, the youth designed, created, and installed the works of art.

“In 2009 we were invited by the 29th Street Weed and Seed Coalition (now the 4R Coalition) to help address beautification, graffiti and the need for after school youth arts programming. TAB responded to that need by establishing a Community Arts program at the JVC Boys and Girls Clubhouse. The youth in this area have proven that they will become successful leaders, business owners and caretakers of this place. They have produced an amazing body of artwork that will be enjoyed by our community for years to come. Creating a beautiful community has become a priority for youth in our program,” says Schwartz.

This site was chosen because the overpass was a favorite target for graffiti taggers of all ages. After cleaning hundreds of tags and over 80 pounds of trash and debris, the artwork was installed with the intention of preventing graffiti, beautifying the neighborhood, and helping to restore a sense of pride to the area. The participants not only learned important lessons about art, but they gained positive tools for personal expression, community cooperation, and formal permission for public projects. 

The project has proved to be successful in reducing graffiti tagging on the overpass, and throughout the adjacent neighborhoods, Julia Keen, Naylor, Roberts, Alvernon Heights and Myers that comprise the 4R Coalition.

Tucson Arts Brigade (TAB) is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, participatory, service-based community arts and education organization that offers intergenerational and cross-cultural opportunities for civic engagement. TAB employs arts-based solutions to civic and social issues, including graffiti, bullying, health & wellness, and sustainable design. With measurable results through neighborhood-based murals, dance, theater, and special events, TAB is weaving community through the arts.

This project has been made possible by support from the 4R Coalition, Puffin Foundation, Pantano Christian Church, Pro-Neighborhoods and The Tucson Pima Arts Council / Kresge In Tucson.

For more information about this and other projects, please visit our web site .

Monday, April 9, 2012

Creating PLACE in East Tucson

Nicole, 10 years old "Don't Litter"

The PLACE program has resulted in the creation of dozens of works of art that will be exhibited throughout Tucson starting in May 2012. The art describes the challenges, hopes and aspirations of youth and adults in the 29th Street area. The project is part of the 4R Neighborhood Coalition’s multi year efforts to improve life in the area. The coalition  includes five neighborhoods; Julia Keen, Myers, Alvernon Heights, Roberts and Naylor. Economic development has been a recent priority, in the past crime had been the number one concern but after nearly a decade of neighborhood activism the crime rates finally came down enough for people to take a breath. TAB was called in as part of the seeding efforts – to provide positive community building programs that engaged everyone in beautifying the places they live and work.
By Macielle, 11 years old

Our work with youth over the past few years has been informed by the concept of transformation, and we use the overpass, the site of our second mural, as a metaphor. Destination – Transformation – Portal – Arrival can be interpreted in a number of ways. We have danced and sung this idea, created artwork and poems. Perhaps the most important part of this analogy is that we ourselves are changing, and growing as a community of learners and neighborhood stewards.

Students have selected a number of themes to work on ranging from bullying, graffiti and  litter bugs to eating healthy and protecting our beautiful and unique desert eco-system. We had a number of visitors come and speak to us about neighborhood issues and what was important to people living in and around the 29th Street area.

Macielle, 11 years old "Protect our Delicate Environment"
We have been working with TAB Marketing Director Jodi Netzer on transforming these artworks into posters and banners. The 11 x 17 posters will be rolled out on Suntran buses over the next year. Pat Richter, now community outreach director for Suntran, also came to visit our class to show examples of the current ads. This was nice because Pat was instrumental in running the 29th Street Weed and Seed Coalition for years. We talked about what worked and what didn’t. It was impressive to see how visually advanced the students in our program are.

We are now making final touches on our artwork. PLACE students are going back and looking into their portfolios to finish old artworks, some are writing about their ideas, others are starting new posters. We are really excited to see these images as they transform into posters.

Stay tuned to this blog to see the final artworks, or join us May 9 for an exhibit and celebration of our work this school year.

This project has been made possible by support from the Puffin Foundation, Pantano Christian Church, Pro-Neighborhoods, The Tucson Pima Arts Council PLACE initiative funded by the Sorros and Nathan Cummings Foundations.