Friday, April 20, 2018

Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona Opens Artist Roster, Creating New Opportunity

Arts Activist met with Tucson Mayor Rothschild in March to air concerns.
Tucson, AZ: After 35 years the Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona (formally TPAC) has agreed to USDAC Pima County Outpost demands (4/15/18 post)  to open up the (formally) secretive “artist roster”. We praise this decision and look forward to more reforms to Policy Directive 7.

The Artist Roster is used as an optional artist selection process for 1 percent for art public art projects with budgets under $50,000. While there is still much work to be done to reform City of Tucson Administrative Directive 7 we consider this a great victory for all artists.

You can read more about the Public Artist Roster, and how to apply on the Arts Foundation website. This is now a rolling application, allowing artists to join the roster on an ongoing basis.

Artists needing assistance applying for the Artist Roster are encouraged to contact the USDAC Pima County Outpost. We meet on a regular basis and can support you in your efforts.

For more information on the USDAC visit for more information on the Tucson Arts Brigade visit


Sunday, April 15, 2018

Reform City of Tucson Policy 7: #LetUsPaint

United States Department of Arts and Culture Tucson Outpost: Official Communique

Attention:  Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona, Public Arts Division
  CC:   City of Tucson Mayor and Council
  City of Tucson City Manager
  City of Tucson Risk Management

Submitted: Monday April 16, 2018

Reform City of Tucson Policy 7: Removing the Barriers to Community Art Process


The Arts Foundation of Southern Arizona, formally Tucson Pima Arts Council is made up of several divisions. This letter and comments relate to the Public Art Division, specifically the Public Art and Design Review Board process and outcomes. Public Arts in Tucson are funded through a variety of public and private sources. The guidelines for placing works of art are described in Policy 7. Additional documents such as Pima County Administrative Procedure 3-16, 54-5 and COT Resolution 22536 are pertinent to our concerns.

From 1996 - 2018 the Tucson Arts Brigade Inc., a coalition of citizen artists,  and neighborhood leaders, conducted a series of public art “demonstrations projects”  employing Community Cultural Development (CCD) strategies and information gathering techniques. These works are process based (story circles, surveys, after school programs, clean ups, paint days etc. that result in a work of public art), and a final product is difficult to display at the start of a project, as mandated by city policies, and reflected in the current PCAD and AFSA Public Art process.

The burden placed upon individual artists, neighborhoods, and organizations has been highly unreasonable, caused duress, and does not allow for the creation of community art in public places due to the baroque nature of policy 7. This flaw has hampered first amendment rights and curtailed our freedom of expression. To this ends we seek support in establishing policy changes that allow for a broader pool of artists, a conversation about political art, a neighborhood informed approval process and implementation of bold new strategies specifically designed to address the multiple needs of our diverse community.

Concern 1: TPAC/AFSA claimed at the 4/11/18 PCAD meeting that TAB didn’t get permissions, or follow a process, when painting the Bronx Wash murals in 2009.

This is a false claim: The neighborhood did receive permission to paint this mural. The NWNA then hired TAB to do so, TAB supplied insurance and a Tucson Fire Department Truck even came during paint day with Tucson Parks and Recreation summer youth to help paint and let the kids play in the fire hoses. The mural got national attention. The understanding is that projects under $5000. are exempt from Policy 7 For projects with budgets under $5000, a single artist or vendor can be chosen. Furthermore a risk review was conducted and insurance certificate issued. Armando Vargas and Mary Ellen Wooten (TPAC Public Arts Manager) had email communications about this project throughout the permission process.

Mary Ellen Wooten's did reach out to the City of Tucson (COT) for approval too.  Pro-Neighborhoods, grantor, had a role in 2009 in the planning and implementation process for the new murals in the Bronx Wash to be reviewed and approved.  To apply Policy Directive 7 post-facto is unacceptable.  To apply the revised '7' to what had been accomplished prior to the revision being vetted and promulgated properly will imply every person and, or, organization (public or private) was in error.  This will include TPAC.

As for the $5000 floor limit.  It was applied in that TPAC had a minimal role in this public art process, and being the NW neighborhood is in the COT and the Bronx Wash is under the jurisdiction of the COT, COT policy will apply. Our current process is to have the Neighborhood Mural Committee approve all works of art. We document and maintain our works with no additional costs to the COT.

Concern 2: TPAC/AFSA Belittle, Devalue, Shun neighborhood concerns, input, history, culture, ideas, needs, protocol and suggestions. For decades neighborhoods have had poorly constructed works of art, irrelevant to their stories and voices imposed upon them. The “peer review” panel process for projects above $50,000 needs to be closely scrutinized, evaluated and modernized.

a. Prescribed remedy: We propose that 1% for art program associated with all capital improvement construction projects language and objectives be amended, and resources be available to be re-directed to after school community arts, civic engagement and Community Cultural Development (CCD) Initiatives to address the specific needs of our unique desert community.

b. Prescribed remedy: Alter the PCAD review process to allow for natural artistic development, extended creative process and building/seeding of “cultural clusters”. (1) Neighborhood committees and PCAD members reviews initial design, provides input during community design review process (2) risk review at project site, (3) council office, city manager consent (4) PCAD reviews final art and (5) accepts into city inventory, with comment’s and revisions as needed. 

Concern 3: TPAC/AFSA since it’s inception has maintained a “Pre Qualified Artist Roster” for Art Projects with Budget’s below $50,000. including 1 percent for public art projects, and CIP’s. Public information is unavailable or difficult to discover. We have been told it opens “every 7 years”and “every 2 years”. Artists who are on the list report being invited by phone call.

a. Prescribed remedy: The Artist Roster should be widely promoted, public and open to all members of our community to apply for in a reasonable, fair and democratic manner.

b. Prescribed remedy: Since the TPAC/AFSA have mandated that all public dollars and property is subject to Directive 7, most artists would be cut off from applying to potential future mural projects, the application process needs to be clarified and simplified to reflect all talent in our community. This need for clarity extends to school, community centers ,parks and recreation centers and other public places and right of ways.

Concern 4: The term "Donation" is the term used for any artwork that someone wishes to be added/donated to the cities Public Art collection. The only potential funding for public art from the Arts Foundation could be for specific projects via our "New Works" and "Start" grants.

a. Prescribed remedy: The review process needs to be restructured to allow for creativity, changes and alterations to the original design. Neighborhood residents should have first rights in terms of subject and content. Many neighborhoods must generate their own funds to create and preserve works of art. Many of these projects are under $5,000 but are still subjected to Policy Directive 7. In attempting to “donate” a work of art (such as a mural) neighborhoods projects subjected to the Directive 7 process, resulting in failure to complete projects. The bar is way to high and is resulting in duress.

b. Prescribed Remedy: Establish baseline professional criteria needed to be represented on the PCAD board.

c. Prescribed Remedy: Establish baseline economic data for “donated” works of community produced art. Funding should be made available using CCD methodologies of meeting multiple-agency needs, 1% for art, CIP and other sources to fill this gap in funding.

Concern 5: The "Risk Review" is a review process mandated by the City of Tucson for all public artworks to be located on city property. The cities risk manager examines all aspects of the proposed piece through criteria associated with safety and liability. Depending on the nature of the artwork, additional criteria may be of concern to the Risk Review process such as engineering or environmental standards.

Prescribed remedy: Risk Reviews can be conducted by the risk review offices, an the PCAD and Policy Directive 7 needs to be amended to allow neighborhoods to circumvent the TPAC/AFSA process if they elect to do so. Risk Review meetings should go back to being on site to avoid confusion.

Concern 6: Years ago the City of Tucson maintained a $1 Bed-Tax on Hotels for arts and entertainment. The economic incentive is clear. Today this money was transferred to Visit Tucson, to bring more people to fill more beds. This economic incentive is also clear.

a. Prescribed remedy: As discussed informally with a sampling of hotel owners, we propose to have all parties sit down and develop a Bed Tax that serves Arts, Entertainment and Visit Tucson. This could include an increase in bed-taxes

b. Prescribed remedy: “Arts District” tax incentives for buyers of Works of Fine Art during strategic times of the year.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Muralist Profiles 2018 Sugar Hill Mural Fest

Kayenat Aryeh
I was inspired by everyone's story during last Monday's Neighborhood Story Circle and would love to be involved in this community. I want to participate in this contest and provide a motivational mural that has a big statement. I have been thinking about what to draw for the past month and I have an idea, but I have not solidified it yet. My idea is a man that's drawn on a gray scale from the side aiming a gun that extends to the other side of the mural wall. The background would be in color, a nice sunny day with children playing in the park. The background would include all of the aspects of Sugar Hill that everyone spoke about during the circle -- the park, the church, the water tower, etc.

Xaivier Ringer

I am interested in creating a mural in the Sugar Hill neighborhood because I am fascinated with its history and how it is currently shifting.  I am always interested in areas where there are African American history and an opportunity to involve public participation. 
My sister is a veterinarian in Tucson and I have visited. I loved the town and the access to public art. I understand it is an area that has gone through continuous transition and I want to give the residents a chance to affirm their history there and create the messages they want to see for themselves. I understand areas such as Sugar Hill are historically where people of color dwell, create and inclusive giving space and can benefit from giving voice to their history and power.
I am interested in painting affirming quotes for the neighborhood to establish, pick and share that they constantly view which can enhance their lives/livelihoods a or self-esteem. The sketches I share are an example of previous work and provide the general essence of what I want to accomplish.

Tanya Alvarez
My name is Tanya Alvarez, I have been painting within Tucson community for over 20 years both publicly and for private commissions and I am also an art therapist with native Tucsonan roots. I feel a connection to both Sugarhill and Jefferson Park. I admire the stories of family, unity, and community and of course the natural desert landscapes and images of everyday people.  My mural was originally created to depict everyday people and landscape from both Sugarhill and Jefferson Park but I am flexible and willing to make changes to depict both neighborhoods on separate murals so the visual story is not confusing.  I wanted to honor the Matriarchs of Waverly Street from Sugarhill, and the U of A Polo teams from Jefferson Park along with images of family and desert landscape and southwest sky.

Sadie Shaw

I’m interested in creating a mural in the Sugar Hill neighborhood because it is apart of my history. My father grew up in this neighborhood and it was a big part of my childhood since he volunteered at the North West Center. My brother and I would meander between the pool, the play ground, and the center waiting for hours for my father to be finished.
I’ve been living in the neighborhood for going on five years at my Auntie Alice’s old house. Raising my child around the same relics of my past makes me feel connected to the family that I’ve lost and a past that seems so forgotten now. Recently my Cousin Antonio who owns the house I live in passed away suddenly. He was like the griot of our family, keeping the stories alive and everyone connected. Because of his generosity I was able to afford to stay in the neighborhood for so long, but now that he’s passed I’m going to have to leave this summer. 
Leaving my home in Sugar Hill is going to be a painful event for me, but creating a mural that commemorates the three generations of my family who have contributed to the neighborhood will help me honor their legacy and shed light on the stories of Sugar hill that are fading away.
I’ve never painted a mural before but I do have some experience with easel painting. I’m a student at the university studying Art & Visual Culture Education and I have a general background with most art mediums. I also teach an entertainment-based painting class to adults (Paint Nite, at a local bar) so I am comfortable helping others thru an art project tho never at such a grand scale.

Caressa Wittwer
I'm a junior art student at Cholla High School. I'm interested in creating a mural for this neighborhood because it would be a great opportunity to connect myself to new cultures and learn about the stories of these residents on a deeper level. I also really agree with the intentions this project has of shedding light on its history through art, and I would just like to be a part of that storytelling process.  I understand this area in a way that I share similar experiences with the neighborhood I currently live in. I’ve learned about the overall history of the neighborhood, though I’d like the chance to gain an even deeper understanding of these stories.
Over these past years, I’ve gained lots of artistic knowledge, practice and experience that will help me with this type of project. I’m in Cholla’s International Baccalaureate art program which has allowed me to practice my ability to communicate messages through art. I’ve also recently lead and painted a mural at my school to meet a specific deadline. This has taught me time management and team building skills that will help me for this project.

Vivian Rayford
I want to paint a wall mural. I have been an artist for many years and love the art I am inspired to create since I moved to Arizona in the year 1999. I paint stylized pictures of cacti, flowers, mountains and palm trees. Sometimes I paint pictures of people and I want to share my colorful art with this area since I think it will be a great fit. I am attaching pictures of my original art below.

Sabrina Vincent
The main reason I'm interested in painting a mural for this neighborhood is because every time I see a blank wall in Tucson I think, someone should paint a mural there. I do know about systematic housing discrimination...CRAZY.  I'm so naive in that I think, that stuff only happened in the south right?  Nope. I too live in a neighborhood in Tucson and I love this city and community. 

I have painted murals for Valley of the Moon and other places where my mural was completed on a time schedule and I worked with other people. My design is very simple, I think the message is pretty clear.  My mural will be two colors.

Julian Argote
Im interested in creating a mural for the neighborhood to give back to the people from that area some culture with art for everyone to enjoy and feel connected to it. Im a artist by many forms and really just would love to paint especially for an area i grew up by i’m currently painting the take a book leave a book in Barrio Anita.

Annalisa Loevenguth

 I am interested in creating this mural because I want to inspire people, no matter where they are in life, to dream and overcome obstacles in their daily lives. Sometimes we forget to dream, I want to remind people of that.  My connection with this area goes back to when I was going to college. It was an area I crossed going back and forth to classes and became a fond study area for me.  I am a mixed media artist but generally work with a wide range of mediums. My main focus and strength is in using acrylic paints. I want to share my imagination with other artists and hope together we can all make a difference.

Sharon Pederson
# Earth Angel

I am a woman of color and a single mother. I have experienced adversities and struggles and believe we all can use some hope in our lives and an opportunity to see beyond ourselves to be angels for other people . The mural I choose to create at Sugar Hills is a pair of angel wings. I lost a baby years ago and people would always say that I now have an angel in heaven and I would think why don’t we have angels here on earth, among us. The Urban dictionary defines angels as one that “ will make you smile whenever u see her and makes your day whenever you are sad. She is so extremely sweet and helps people when they are in need especially when they are going through really tough times. “ I wanted to compose a mural that would obviously make a person’s day by just viewing it but also one that challenge a person to think of how they can be angels to others. Also, the way I plan on painting this mural would make it perfect for photo op. I also plan on painting “ # Earth Angel”  on the left corner of the mural which would attract younger people to ponder on what it means to be an angel on earth. I have been to the Sugar Hill area many time, I know it’s a diverse community which would be very accepting of me and my children. A place we could call home. I admire this community that has so much pride and love of their neighborhood. There is a lot of history in Sugar Hill and residents that have moved away still keep coming back to organize reunions. I have been an artist for many year. I attended a Fine Arts college in Miami in the 1980’s where I refined my illustration skills. I have executed several auction art project for nonprofit and profit entities, utilizing various mediums as well as composing  murals. And more extensively I have been an Art teacher for K-12 graders. I believe my numerous year as an artist skilled me to produce a beautiful street mural. Some people may find it hard to translate their ideas onto large canvas areas but with my experience and attention to detail makes me an idea candidate to add in for this project.  I will contribute by delighting passerby to this wall mural.

Felix Lawrence
I realize my proposal does not fit the themes of the Sugar Hill mural project. However, the last time I submitted a mural proposal in Tucson, I was told that I had censored myself by adhering to the project’s requirements.  This implies I should ignore project requirements.  Still, I hope my current proposal will be reviewed along with all the other proposals, and not get pre-screened.  Regardless, I would love to help paint whichever murals are selected & approved.  I am an OK amateur artist with modest experience. Sugar Hill was an African-American neighborhood in Tucson.  This mural project (if I understand correctly) aims to document & celebrate this ethnic history.  A word of caution on this. Its fine to celebrate our differences, so long as we also acknowledge our commonalities: We are all working-class, so we share a common present struggle. Murals are one of the few places the working class might have freedom of speech in the public space, and compete with corporate propaganda, so this is important. We will not gain power by focusing on our differences & divisions. There is just 1 ethnic group in the USA which is NOT allowed to celebrate itself. We are permitted to celebrate being Irish, Jewish, Italian, etc. but not being white; this is taboo. Intellectually, I can understand the reasons for this double standard; emotionally, many whites do not understand. Seeing other groups do what we are not permitted to do, is provocative. Do we want to further alienate the white working class, and drive us further to the right?  Amy Chua has a fine piece on this:

Vana Steele
Hello, I am the president of the art club at the Pima Community College, downtown campus. We have been previously invited to paint a mural in the Bronx wash and wanted to take this opportunity to submit our design and application. We wanted to do this mural to honor an art club member who passed away about 6 months ago, and tie the themes of the mural in with the topics of diversity and change. The Downtown Campus is very close to this area and the art club has members with various backgrounds in art, and we have designed and completed a mural for the campus. We feel that we can paint a great mural with lively vibes to add to this already bright area! I have attached the preliminary sketch of our mural design. The materials needed are just primary colors of mural paint and brushes, possibly a projection device, all of which we will be able to cover with funds from the art club.
Thank you so much for this opportunity.

Jessa Hudgens
My name is Jessa Hudgens and I am an art student at the University of Arizona. I have always had a huge passion for street art and I absolutely love the appreciation for it in Tucson. I am from San Jose, California, an area where art is not as celebrated, particularly street art. I'd say my high school art teacher really instilled the appreciation for it in me. She was always showing us the work of artists like Keith Haring and Shepard Fairey. I was even given the opportunity to paint a mural at my high school, inspired by Haring, celebrating diversity and our different cultures. It was one of my proudest accomplishments and since then, I have been itching for a chance to paint again and to have my art appreciated by the public. I live in the Jefferson Park neighborhood and I absolutely love the Bronx Wash and the art there. It would be such an honor for me to contribute to the art in the neighborhood and it is a dream of mine. The piece I would want to do is also Haring inspired. I love his bold lines and colors he used to still convey a message. I painted a heart with various colors and shapes inside with the tag "Stop Killing Art". I think so many people have an aversion to art. I feel as though street art in particular is under appreciated  and should get more recognition. Painting for the city of Tucson would be an absolute honor and I really hope you would consider me to contribute to the amazing artist community here!

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sugar Hill Story Circle, Tucson AZ

A historical visual essay of Sugar Hill Tucson, AZ