Barrio Centro Neighborhood Mural Project

A neighborhood civic engagement mural celebrating the life, people, ecology and history of Barrio Centro in Tucson, Arizona.


Community Tapestry Comes to Life in Barrio Centro

Barrio Centro Youth Muralists Meet With Lucky Wishbone Owner Josh Jacobson

Barrio Centro is a really special place. Long time residents of the area gathered on December 4, 2010 to share stories of the neighborhood. They shared stories for hours and seemed to know almost everyone in the area. Among the many stories that are emerging are the role of little league, family picnics and movie night. These are stories of people gathering together to enjoy our great weather and good neighbors. The stories we have gathered to date start about 1939 with the buildings of the first houses. Residents bought lots from the Gifford’s family, who were well known for their generosity and good will. The stories continue through the years to the present day.

Over the past several months fourteen youth ages 14-18, neighborhood residents Howenstein art teacher Tempest Alabi-Isama and lead muralist Michael Schwartz of Tucson Arts Brigade have been developing the mural design. We sorted through and organized dozens of ideas and suggestions that have been gathered. The railroad, neighborhood social activities, airplanes, buildings and daily life are among the major themes.

It’s been really nice having residents such as Rose, Charles and German come and speak with neighborhood youth. Rose spent the last several sessions with us, helping get details such as the sheet used as a screen for neighborhood summer movies at Bristol Park.

The mural wall is 175 feet long and 5’ tall. The design is to scale and when we roll it up it looks like a scroll. It’s been a ton of work, but we are making great progress. Each workshop we add more details as well as learning artistic techniques and become more familiar with mural history.

As we draw to end of the year we have many more questions. Was there a pony express stop in the neighborhood? Where was the fist structure? Is it still there?

In the coming year we are planning more workshops, a visit to the Historical Society and more meetings with long time neighborhood residents.


Our Project has Started!

After many months of preparation and careful planning mural design workshops have started every Tuesday from 3-5pm at Howenstien High School. We have a great core group of youth and more kids are coming each week.

We have been working on developing ideas for the mural , as well as reviewing the elements of art and principles of design. The design ideas we have developed are based on input gathered from neighbors over the past few months. Some of those constant themes are trains, airplanes, sports, parks and bicycles.

Last week we had our first class visit from German Quiroga, who described the neighborhood and answered students questions. In our next session we will be looking at our mural site and documenting what we see in our journals. This site vist is really a chance for kids to take a new look at their neighborhood through the eyes of an artist.

Over the coming weeks we will be creating a to scale design proposal for our mural walls. We will present our design to the Barrio Centro Association in January.

Stay tuned for more updates!


Barrio Centro Mural Neighborhood Input

Diane, German and Martin
At the September neighborhood neighborhood meeting we met to brainstorm some ideas for our mural. We also set up a booth at the annual fiesta on October 2nd. The fiesta was a blast as you can see from the images. Combined we already have input from more than 30 neighbors.

Here are the voices Barrio Centro residents;

“My family is an extension of the neighborhood. What is important to us is developing community, feeling safe, knowing our neighbors, security, trees, wild life and birds, local businesses, family, picking up trash and litter, walking dogs, helping each other, watching out for each other, maintaining a safe place for kids to play, having quietness from the train noises, home, good morals, trains, children, the good appearance of the Barrio, history of the old neighborhood. Keeping with the history of Barrio Cento. Our house was built in 1939 and the house just south of us was built in the1980’s. Everyone being nice to you, and friendly.”

Sights, Smells and Sounds

Flowers, Music, Food.
Mountains, all colors, kids practicing softball, roasting chili’s at Food City, the roadrunner.
We hear trains, bicyclists, airplanes.
Trees, Carne Asada on weekends, Luck Wishbone, nice homes and yards.
Zoo Animals and Birds, traffic on 22nd Street, the smell of palm trees, mowed grass at the park and wild flowers.
Cookouts, mesquite grills around the neighborhood. Seeing fireworks.
Chinese restaurant smells,
Birds, raptors and ducks from Reid Park, Puesto’s good local restaurant.
Children playing, old time music,
The smell of rain, mariachi music, blue and red colors of the neighborhood.

Specific Ideas

Something with a train, since we live next to the main train yard.
Gather photographs of residents, with captions about each person (post to blog and/or use in the design).
Diversity of our neighborhood. I think it would be nice to have in the mural a scene which includes all the ethnic backgrounds of our neighborhood. There is a song by U2 where the lyrics read” where all the colors bleed into one”. And it seems all races in Barrio Centro seem to get along.

Rose Handing out gifts at the celebration.


Speeding Cars, Better Grocery Store, Nose Pollution, Security, Need Street Lights.
The trains are too loud, especially when they blow the horns at 2:30am.

Tempest and the students from Howenstine HS face painting at the celebration.

Favorite Places

I like the yard of my house. I’m trying to make it look nice.
My house because my family is always there every Sunday.
My house, the Bike Paths.
Golden Phoenix
Fiesta Market – I love that there is an independent market with fresh food, beer and tortillas.
The jogging track along aviation because I like to exercising late at night.
big old trees along the bike path,
Railroad Trains
My family and yard, the trees, flowers, nature and peaceful place

TAB Table at Annual Fiesta

Bristol Park

Kids planning in park, it’s nice to see, memories of walking to the park, playing with children. I grew up playing in Bristol Park. Lots of good memories such as playing basketball, baseball and picnics. I come with my dogs to play ball. You can meet new people.

The ladies of Barrio Centro sporting new BC tees.

Reid Park
Proximity to Reid Park and the Zoo, a nice place to relax. I run 3-4 mornings a week and the park is quiet and peaceful.

The celebration included music, food, dancing and health check ups.

Historical Time Line ( in progress – we need your help!)

1939 1433 S Winmor Built

___ Eastmore Division Built

___ El Campo Estates Built

___ Bristol Park created

___ 1950’s Richie’s Drive In Opens

___ 1980’s Richie’s Drive In Closes

___ Lucky Wishbone Opens

___ Barraza/ Aviation Parkway Built – some street closures

___ Reid Park Built


Our Mural Project Starts!

Thanks to everyone on the mural planning team and a recent grant from Pro-Neighborhoods our project has started! We are continuing to meet and gather ideas, images and stories. What is starting to emerge is an amazing story of life in this part of Tucson.

We are looking for more information about El Campo Estates, the Railroad, rail workers and families, boxing stars like Jonny Rico and Paco Flores. This is just the start and we are really excited to gather more information and share that with you here.

Neighborhood Fiesta
We will have a “Mural Project” table set up at the Neighborhood Fiesta in Bristol Park Saturday October 2, Noon-6pm. This is going to be a great even with food, refreshments, live entertainment, bands, clowns, youth races, bike taxi fun and friends. The theme this year revolves around Health and Wellness in the neighborhood.

At the mural booth we will be asking people to fill out a survey and share what they would like to see in neighborhood murals.

If you want you can download the survey by clicking on the image above and return it to us at the festival.

Youth Workshops Start Tuesday Oct. 19 3pm

We have scheduled our youth workshops at Howenstine High School, 555 South Tucson Boulevard on Tuesday’s 3-5pm starting Oct. 19 – Dec. 14, 2010 and then resuming Jan. 4 – March 8, 2011.

We will be working on our mural design through the fall and invite everyone to a design approval meeting on December 14. Our design will need to be approved by the neighborhood, business owners and community members. Once we have a design we all agree on we will begin the process of creating our murals. Our mural sites are Lucky Wishbone and the ReStore both on 22nd street. We are really excited to have both local businesses as partners on this project.

Water Color and Elder Share Workshops
Look forward to a neighborhood Water Color Workshop, Elder Share, Design input and approval meetings this fall. This spring we will be inviting everyone to come help paint the mural during the community paint day, and celebrate the unveiling of the murals and celebration of our collective efforts.

As always we welcome your ideas, feedback, poems, stories and images. This is your blog!


Proposed Walls for our Mural

Here are the two walls we have proposed for this project - one at Lucky Wishbone, the other at the Restore. Two great local businesses on 22nd St. It was great to meet some of the business owners as we looked for walls, and invite them to join in partnership with the neighborhood over the long term, nad in the short term on this project.


Welcome to our Blog!

This site will report on the Barrio Centro neighborhood Mural project. This exciting project starts in September and includes;

- after school mural arts workshops for youth ages 14-18

- neighborhood design sessions and

- long time resident/ elder shares.

Stay posted to this site to find out about workshop times and locations.

We are really jazzed about this project and want to thank all our supporters and the Mural Planning Team for all their hard work. We are currently finalizing the mural and workshop location(s). Check back soon!