Tucson’s Colorful Art Scene: Murals, Music and More

Tucson’s Colorful Art Scene: Murals, Music and More


By now, all of Arizona knows that Tucson
is a mini mecca for the arts and the city’s many colorful street murals offer
a first glimpse into the city’s unique culture. I’m about to sit down and talk
to international graffiti artist Rock Martinez about Tucson’s vibrant
art scene. Born and raised right here, Rock’s art is heavily inspired by
Tucson’s history and its unparalleled style.
He’s also agreed to give me a personal tour of some of his favorite local works. “Rock Martinez thank you for meeting me here in Tucson!” “Thank you for having me” “Where exactly are we? This, this market is adorable.” “This is the Mercado’s
San Agustín. This is Menlo Park.” “Menlo Park. The history of graffiti has
changed so much now it’s this really big established art form.” It was kids that didn’t have money so they, they would still spray paint and go pain the subway trains. Then graffiti just blew up and went all over the world. I just want to get my artwork seen in whatever venture that I choose to do and get it
as large as I possibly can.” “There’s a lot of elements of who you are in your art.” “You know, coming from the southwest, specifically Tucson, I encompass in my
paintings things that are the resources here. I illustrate the importance of
immigrants and the migration and so the characters and insects that usually
reflect in my art. Butterflies are huge migration and hummingbirds and just
being of Mexican descent and of native descent, I always go back to that and the
beauty of, of the Southwest, and Arizona and Tucson specifically, with our large
saguaros that you’ve never seen anywhere else.” “So we’re gonna look at
some of your murals today.” “We’re gonna look at four murals, yes.” “Great. Tell me, so what’s the first we’re gonna go to.” “The goddess of agave, Mayahuel. So this is
part of a series called, I called “Cactus People.” I always was trying to create
something that represented me and where I’m able to illustrate the importance of
things that take place in the southwest. You have the saguaros, you have the
nopales, and you have the agave and they have this kind of native feeling and I
try to express that through imagery and symbols of the desert.” “It’s beautiful, I love it.” “The next mural
that we’re gonna go to is right around the corner here from the Mercado and
it’s called A Dream of Sunday Afternoon in Menlo Park, which is derivative from
Diego Rivera’s painting, A Dream of Sunday Evening in Alameda Park. People really gravitate towards Frieda because of her strong femininity and how she represented that. In Mexico, Diego’s the man. In America, Freida’s kind of like, held on a pedestal and people are like, who’s the big ugly
guy? He pushed her out there to be this amazing artist and put her in the
spotlight. So the painting is a traditional approach to Day of the Dead,
which is Dia de los Muertos and here in Tucson there’s a very strong presence
that celebrates that. “And then there’s also” “About two years ago I painted the
very first mile wall painting and it’s on the south side which was the area in
which I grew up in and I’ve always wanted to paint this wall and finally
when I had everything in line Honda approached me and I did a Honda
commercial in front of that wall and so the mural was made for a Honda
commercial. The last location that we’re gonna visit is actually a friend of mine, Micah,
he owns Mr. Heads Art Bar. It’s an art bar and a gallery kind of mixed in one. Right
now, this one is inspired mural by Gustav Klimt and so there’s accents of gold with some, some of the design but it still has the elements of cactus people.” “She actually looks a lot like a superhero with all the gold accents.” “Yeah, I think so.” “This particular Mr. Head’s Art Bar is actually a place that you can listen to live music?” “You can come listen to live music. Patio
fills up, the music scene is here, it’s amazing. I have some really talented
friends, the Jivin’ Scientists are here and they’re a rap group and also my
friend Tom Wallbanks is a blues player, he’s here in town. But we go to any bar
that that’s in Tucson, I would say The Flycatcher, Hotel Congress, the Rialto, and
Che’s Lounge at any given night you can go listen to any genre of music that you
want to go listen to and you know you can go into any little dive bar and
there’s somebody in there playing blues.” “What’s the most remarkable change you’ve seen in this city in the last decade?” “Everyone’s becoming an artist, you know,
not so much picking of a spray can you can leave that to me but, just working
with their hands and creating beautiful pieces of furniture or creating hand
brush paintings or pottery and you’re gonna find a lot of that in Tucson. And
the food, I would even go as far as saying that I’ve had better food in Tucson
than I’ve had in Mexico.” “So better can food in Tucson than Mexico City?” “I would say that. But if you come to Tucson you absolutely have to have a Sonoran hot dog.” “All right. Rock, thank you so much for your time today.” “Absolutely, thank you for coming and I’m gonna show you the beauty of the city.” “So much fun. Thank you!” “Great!” Thanks for watching. Discover a place where you can explore without boundaries at visittucson.org.

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