Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tucson Arts Brigade 2014 Annual Report Highlights

Amphi Action Mural, Woods Library
Tucson Arts Brigade Annual Report 2014

This has been an amazing year of growth, change and resilience. Since 1996 the Arts Brigade has offered a variety of community cultural development programs. Today that work continues as we seek to provide year round, county wide, arts and civic engagement opportunities especially to youth.

Our focus on youth arts and education comes in response to over 180 requests for services over the past 2 years. We are excited about the potential to meet these needs, and are looking to secure resources to train and hire art teachers and a management team who can provide services for more than 15,000 youth living in the Tucson metro area. Currently we have only been able to secure the resources to deliver services to a fraction of thsese youth.

To deliver services we embarked on an exciting year of community arts education and advocacy programs engaging hundreds of Tucson residents, and impacting thousands more.

  • Over 200 people attended the Edible Art Gala to support TAB.
  • Presented to the University of Arizona Art and Visual Education Department Classes
  • Presenter, Emerging Conversations, Art and Visual Education Symposium, University of Arizona: Imagining Arts Education 2034
  • Hosted two US Department of Arts & Culture Imaginings as part of a nation wide cultural organizing effort. The USDAC is an imaginary people powered federal department. TAB is now part of an international association of colleagues that meets bi-weekly.
  • The Youth Arts and Civic Engagement Program continues to meet once a week. Over 60 youth have participated this year.
  • We hosted three hands on Days of Arts Service (2/14, 5/10 and 9/13) involving over 160 people. We removed trash, maintained murals and filled several roll-offs with debris.
  • TAB co-sponsored two forums on House-less issues, and successfully promoting Community Arts Integration and the concept that the house-less people themselves are the experts on their own lives. 
  • TAB participated for the 5th year in the 4RCA Coalition meetings and initiatives helping to impact hundreds of youth in the 29th street area.
  • We hosted a series of advocacy based mural tours, including tours for visiting artists Janet Goldner (NYC), Lincoln Cushing (SF) and the Mayor of Tucson.
  • We hosted a series of adult evening painting workshops, and one professional development workshop with Teaching Artist Paul Fisher.
  • Our executive Director was one of several jurors for the county wide High School Student Art show at the Pima County Main Library for the 5th year in a row.
  • We participated in the “Make A Difference” art project and auction, which netted over $2,000. to provide first aid kits for migrants.
  • We participated in a number of outreach events, including the City High School Block Party, Ft Lowell Soccer Shootout, Loft Cinema, Jewish Community Center, Downtown and other locations reaching over 1500 people.
  • ACE youth organized the “Color of Our Voices” gathering of youth artists at the Maker House. This gathering featured youth facilitated workshops, performances and discussions. Over 70 youth participated in this day long, inspiring event.
  • TAB’s internship program helped five youth move from school to work though our workforce development program.
  • Presented on a Ward Three Alliance panel on youth community building opportunities.
  • Continued to maintain the 20 murals we have created about town.
  • Held a series of meetings with Central City Assembly and TIARC refugee services to identify program needs. We identified over 500 refugee youth who would benefit from and participate in the weekly out of school time ACE program.
  • In collaboration wit the USDAC we dispatched a artist delegation to the Border to document the stories of migrants and border residents.
  • The Female Story Tellers featured TAB at their September benefit where ACE youth presented.
  • A mural project was started with our new partner Refugee Focus, where we are currently in the design phase.
  • Test QR codes were installed at several mural sites to enhance the mural viewing experience. The QR codes take visitors to a blog that explains the process behind the murals and the cultural and historical context of the works.
  • A new series of murals were created at the Dream Center for house-less people. Additional murals are in progress in the parking lot.
Thank you to all of our donors, and foundation support:
  • #BankofAmerica
  • #TucsonPimaArtsCouncil
  • #TucsonRealtorsCharitableFoundation
  • #PuffinFoundation

All of this activity was augmented by closing the TAB office and directing all resources toward the mission of TAB and driving force of the organization, to provide arts education for the community of Tucson and beyond. And we could not have accomplished all of this without you! Thank you for all of your support and please consider an end of the year, tax-deductible donation to the Tucson Arts Brigade, today!


Melissa Black
TAB Board President

Michael Schwartz
TAB Director

Saturday, November 22, 2014

QR Codes Installed on Murals

QR codes have been installed at the
  • Inside the Overpass mural (29th & Columbus)
  • Barrio Centro (2712 E 22nd)
  • Bronx Wash (Lester & 4th Ave) and 
  • Miracle Manor (2520 N. 15th Avenue)

What is a QR code? It’s enlarged pixels that when seen by your phone will tele transport you to more information about he history, people and process behind these epic works of art.

So how does it work? Look for your “QR” code application on your phone, and then look for the black and white code box on the mural. Aim your phone, click and see what happens!

This application is free and part of a self guided tour of TAB murals. If this experiment works we will be adding more codes to other murals.

Have Fun!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Right To Dream Center Murals: Moving towards the Sun

Tucson is no stranger to poverty. Every day there are thousands of people who silently go hungry, sleep in out of the way places. There are more than 6,000 people with no place to sleep each night in Tucson.  Each of these people has a story to tell, a universe of experiences and connections. Over the past year Tucson Arts Brigade has embarked on a Social Practice experiment entitled “Black Line on Red Brick”. The lives and stories of our most vulnerable members of society reflect who we are as a peoples, the health of our democracy, and our collective thirst for more compassionate and wise society.

This project has many components, ranging from the in depth first hand writings of Safe Park Co-Founder Anthony Potter,  endless videos posted by Safe Park Co-Founder Jon McLane, the Safe Park in downtown Tucson, and the Right 2 Dream Center in south Tucson, where the murals are located.

What is inspiring about the Dream Center approach is working with a group of people have come together, equipped only with people power, to combine our talents and start building solutions. The arts are a critical part of this process. We are collaborating with groups like the I Have a Name Project, Community Built Shelters, Right 2 Dream Center and Central City Assembly (CCA) to transform empty lots into safe spaces, places to eat, garden, sleep and keep belongings. To be a part of the Right 2 Dream camp requires members participate in upkeep of the area, a series of rules including no violence, weapons, drugs or alcohol. Members sign up for work shifts to feed hundreds of people, security for houseless peoples at the various safe parks, construction and clean up. If you see a person in a light blue shirt that says “Dreamer” give them a thumbs up, even better stop, introduce yourself and ask how you can help. This movement is about much more than people who are houseless, it’s about social alienation, a society that provides too few noble pathways out of poverty, a lack of wisdom, compassion or understanding of the dynamics of being house-less. These are complex issues that take a community to understand and solve.

On October 16 muralist from the Tucson Arts Brigade gathered at the CCA to create the first in a series of murals for the Safe Park Dream Center.  The murals were created during a day long regional forum on Houselessness that included speakers, music, conversation and lots of food.

The process featured long time muralist Jos Villabrille who is a freelance artist with more than 30 years professional experience. Jos was accompanied by artist’s Sowmya Ghosh  and Michael Schwartz . Additional murals created by youth in the Tucson Arts Brigade ACE’s program are in progress in the parking lot area.

The Regional Forum on Homelessness is the follow up event to the February Community Forum: Panel Discussion on Homelessness at the Pima County Library, hosted by Safe Park, LLC. Panel guests and Regional Ambassadors spoke of their respective segments of homeless services, the laws and policies that pertain to homelessness. Each give an 8 minute power point presentations on the alternative services they provide in their locations, fielded questions, and explained ways to get involved or replicate efforts.

Regional Ambassadors included;
The Tucson Ambassadors included;
  • Pastor Dave Ferrari of our own Tucson Central City Assembly;
  • Bryan Flagg, Director of Casa Maria,
  • Michael Kieth, CEO, Downtown Tucson Partnership,
  • Carl Sammartino, Lawyer, Cooper/ McLane v. City of Tucson
  • Melissa Hager, Founder of The Tribe-Tucson.

The Regional Forum on Homelessness was hosted and moderated by Safe Park Director, Jon McLane. Musical guests was reggae group Planet Jam. Sponsors for the Regional Forum on Homelessness was provided by Casa Maria, Central City Assembly, Tucson Bus Riders Union, Downtown Tucson Partnership, Tucson Arts Brigade and the Tucson USDAC Field Office.

“I created a mural that was really just about beauty, it was a drawing that Jon McLane really liked. The idea was that people would wake up and see this colorful blast of color, and be inspired to go about their daily tasks. I know at least in my experience of being house-less that waking up in the morning was sometimes really tough, so this mural, it’s colors, shapes and forms, all designed to give a feeling of high frequency contentment.” Michael Schwartz Artist Statement

“Moving towards the Sun”
When I think about Migration, the first image that comes to mind is that of the monarch butterfly. Few animals inspire the same devotion to migration as the monarch butterfly. Their 3000-mile migration from Canada to Mexico and back to the Gulf coast states has served as one of nature’s greatest mysteries. However, the rise in wildfires, drought, logging, climate change and the drastic loss of their milkweed habitat have all contributed to the falling number of monarch butterflies. Their population is disappearing at an alarming rate so much so that political leaders across the US, Canada and Mexico are coming together to help rebuild ideal habitats for these sun painted butterflies. Despite the several struggles, the migratory habits of monarchs continue to fascinate scientists particularly because it is a story of resilience. Along the same vein, human migration over the years has been a similar story to that of the famous butterfly. People shift to greener pastures for a variety of reasons ranging from poverty, economic gain, marriage and/or education etc. The continued movement of people has shifted the design and capacity of our modern day infrastructure so much so that it seems overwhelming.
This mural aims to capture the movement (migration) of animal species (monarch as the example) and human migratory aspirations as an ongoing natural conflict. It also seeks to convey the need to bridge (as illustrated in the mural) the disconnect between nature and human activities that create potentially damaging effects on our ecosystem.  Set over the backdrop of Tucson’s fiery sunset, monarch butterflies are on the move. From their wings is a young woman on a swing who looks ahead to a city far away from her as she dreams of better days. 
 - Sowmya Ghosh Mural Statement

To Participate in this Project:
  1. Come up with an idea or concept for the project. Surfaces might include park walls, shelters, tents, banners, flags and other  objects we get permission to paint. Themes: Utopia, Displaced, Urban Nomads, Migration, Homeless
  2. Create a jpeg of your images or ideas.
  3. Include your contact information and short email of  your willingness to participate in the project.
  4. Include a short bio, a website and a profile image in you have them.
  5. Materials: Provide as many of your own materials as you can, we will help you fill in the gaps. We will prep the walls and apply a final top coat.
  6. Send to:
This winter Dreamers are gathering sleeping bags, backpacks, socks, shoes and other basics. Look forward to more inspiring news from the Dreamers as this movement grows.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

New Video kicks off Winter Fund Drive

TAB is producing some new short videos to kick off our winter fundraising drive. Here is our first one, enjoy!

We know you love TAB! We Love You Too!
Thank you for 18 years of supporting Arts & Civic Engagement Programs

We know Tucson loves the work we do. For 18 years 95% of our funding has come from individual contributors like YOU. Talk about people powered! Hundreds of people just like you combine their resources to  provide youth arts education, civic engagement, intergenerational and neighborhood arts programs.  Help this ripple become a stream. Join us today by pledging today, all donations are tax deductible.

By Mail: TAB POB 545, Tucson, AZ 85702
On Line:

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Thank You Participants in the 2014 9/11 Day of Arts Service

Thank you to everyone who joined in this years annual 9/11 Day of Arts Service on Saturday, September 13 from 8:00am - 1:00pm at 29th St and Columbus.

We painted over tags, cleaning the Inside the Overpass mural and embellishing existing artworks and removed a bunch of trash from the surrounding neighborhoods.  Thank you especially to Our Family Services, 4R Communities Alliance and Shelby, Manuel, Nicole, Helen, Mary, Rose, German, Mindy, Dave, Valeria, Barbara, Abdullani, Brittany, Anthony and all the neighbors in Barrio Centro, Julia Keen, Roberts, Naylor, Myers & Alvernon Heights. It takes a village!

Images provided by photographers David Moyer and Michael Schwartz

Monday, September 22, 2014

Call for Mural Artists: Homelessness, Urban Nomads, Migration, Displaced

Artists Call: Right 2 Dream Center Murals

Deadline: Midnight Oct 14, 1014

Who: All Mural Artists, teams & individuals are invited to submit concepts for a series of murals for the new people powered Right 2 Dream park walls, shelters, tents, banners, flags and other structures and objects we get permission to paint.

Themes: Homelessness, Urban Nomads, Migration, Displaced

When: Concepts Due by Oct. 14, midnight. Designs subject to comments and input from the community that will be living with them. Please be open to possible changes, and discussions. That said, no bars held. We do encourage artists to arrange to visit the site and get to know more about the project and it's residents. Each artist will be assigned a space to paint.

Painting will start Thursday October 16. Expect to be cleaned up for the day by 9:30pm.

Painting Time: Thursday October 16 Noon - 9:30pm

Materials: We will prep the walls and apply a final top coat. Some limited paints will be supplied, but please prepare to being your own materials.

Props: Artists will be thanked in all possible ways, when mentioning the park, on blogs and in newsletters. 

To apply:

1) Come up with an idea or concept for the project. Surfaces might include park walls, shelters, tents, banners, flags and other  objects we get permission to paint.
2) Create a jpeg of your images or ideas.
3) Send your contact information and short email of  your willingness to participate in the project.
4) Include a short bio, your website and a profile image.

email these things to:

Friday, September 5, 2014

Female StoryTellers presents Make it Work!

Join Female StoryTellers and Tucson Arts Brigade Wednesday, September 10 for Make it Work!

Doors open at 6:30PM, show starts at 7.
Suggested donation is $7; cash only, please!
Flycatcher 340 E 6th St (formally Plush)
ASL interpreters will be provided. Venue is 21+.
Our beneficiary this month is Tucson Arts Brigade.

Hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s off to work FST! goes! This month, FST! Female StoryTellers presents our most professional tales—from the janitor’s closet to the espresso machine to the glass ceiling and beyond, the women of FST! will share our funniest stories about the things we’ve done—or keep on doing—to make our daily wage. Punch your humpday timecard and head on over to Flycatcher

FST! Female StoryTellers is a community of women in Tucson, AZ dedicated to expressing creativity through storytelling. FST! was founded in 2012 as a platform and showcase for the smart, talented women of Tucson. Each month FST! invites four or more women to write and perform original stories based on a common prompt.

With each story presenting a unique perspective on that month’s theme, every FST! performance combines hilarity, personality, and insight to entertain and inspire audiences. As passionate as FST! members are about telling great stories, FST! also uses its powers for good by raising funds for local arts and community organizations.

Find out more at: