I woke up craving exposure to visual art. I decided a visit to the Tucson Museum of Art would satisfy that urge. I biked downtown and before I reached the museum I was distracted by some murals on the side of a building. Like a moth to a light, or whatever simile you want to use, I was drawn to the images. There’s a freedom to outdoor art. It’s exposed to the elements, yet still maintains veracity. I can’t do this. I want to write about how much I was affected by the murals riddled throughout downtown Tucson, but I keep diluting that message by wasting time trying to think of a clever adjective or witty sentence structure to express myself. I am having an internal crisis right now. My inability to properly describe this day is frustrating. I’m trying too hard to write some flowery exposé about the importance of exterior urban art. How about I save us both some time and be blunt. I biked to downtown Tucson expecting to pay to see some art. When I reached the museum I noticed a mural across the street. I walked up to it and studied/appreciated/connected with the piece. There was no date, no signature, and no admission price. I noticed another mural. I did the same thing. This process occurred over and over again throughout the city until I found myself on the other side of town three hours later gawking at various paintings, sculptures, and southwestern architecture. This cityscape is very much a canvas.
As I walked around appreciating all this free artistry, I wondered who composed all this. It was at that moment I turned the corner and noticed a man painting the side of a brick building. This man was Joe Pagac. I had noticed his name on many murals in downtown Tucson so I felt the need to confront him and thank him for reigniting a feverous passion of mine. We got to talking and he informed me that the city pays him to paint many of the murals in town. It’s a much better change of pace from having to secretly express his creativity on the sides of buildings. Now he can do it openly, and free of scrutiny. As I informed Joe of my travels, he told me a couple of his own. Instead of attending grad school, he opted to spend a year outside of the country. His only rule was that he couldn’t return to the U.S. until a full year had passed. The majority of his time abroad was spent in Thailand and various other countries in Southeast Asia. There he volunteered for several volunteer organizations, worked odd jobs, and LIVED. I related to Joe as my trip has given me the opportunity to grow exponentially more than I could have possibly imagined. Although, I don’t express it as much in this blog, I feel I have adopted a cavalcade of new ideas, outlooks, and knowledge of this country, the American people, and my own self. I’ve learned more in the past five months than I have in four years of higher education. That may be an exaggeration, but this trip has fully restored my faith in humanity, self-expression, and community. I lost sight of those things last year and I’m glad to have recaptured them.
I think it’s a common misconception that this state, particularly this city is mainly occupied by retired senior citizens who have no investment in the arts. Tucson is in fact, very much embedded with youth, vibrancy, and creativity. This is expressed in the hundreds of murals littered throughout the city. I would have never associated Tucson with those adjectives, but I stand here pleasantly surprised. Tucson is an art city. And I learned that without even spending a dime.
I could have done a much better job at writing this blog post. I could have invested more thought into expressing my admiration for Joe’s work. I could have tried a little harder, but I just ate an entire box of cookies and I feel like a giant shitball. I’m staring at my stomach right now and it’s tough enough to gather the energy to write about my lack of energy. Just stare at the pictures I took. I’m going to go throw up.
Total Ascent: 832 ft.