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.