Kindness Mural Saga

Resurrection Revelation

On January 28th I posted my first Mosaic Travelogue piece wherein, along with my work alongside Isaiah Zagar and a private commission, I talked about the two murals I had designed for Ben’s Bells. I said that both murals are now history but were made on panels so perhaps they are in storage somewhere.

The second of those two efforts with the Ben’s Bells crew took place on a plaza downtown in 2012 directly south of the Fox Theatre block. At the time there was a quite ugly 40’ x 40’ ‘box’ that covered a hole in the ground, an elevator shaft, that was intended for a second 23-story tower. It never got built. So Jeannette Maré, the founder of Ben’s Bells, got permission to slap on some cement board and cover the whole thing with murals to rid downtown of the eyesore. The project included financial backing from TUSD’s Community Transition Programs, Tucson Pima Arts Council (TPAC), Greater Tucson Leadership, Cox Charities, and a Kresge P.L.A.C.E. grant.

I came into the picture when Jeannette asked me if I’d like to design the first of three, which would face north toward the Fox. Without hesitation I started sketching ideas with the only caveat being she wanted either ‘Be Kind’ or ‘Kindness’ incorporated into it. I produced a series of drawings to narrow down options but all had the floating figures incorporated. This one below was a contender.

Once I finished the final drawing, I borrowed an old school overhead projector from my friend Melanie Cooley which I used to project the final drawing unto the ‘canvas’ from a half-football field away. I brought along my trusty 12’ A-frame ladder and used black acrylic paint and brush to do the sketch. You can see here how the final drawing differs from the sketch above.

And here is the drawing with color instructions ready to roll. The instructions were put in place as a guide for tile placement, as most of Ben’s Bells projects are a group effort.

Here’s a second day shot with part of the hard working crew.

And here’s the final work.

Again, I thought the mural was history. Since I had not been in that part of town since the pandemic hit, I was clueless about any development taking place on that block. Lo and behold (I’ve been wanting to use that phrase in a sentence for a long time) I got a call last week from Roger Karber, of Aerie Development, who informed me that the new six-story RendezVous Urban Flats building, a replacement for the proposed 23-story second tower, had been built and the Kindness mural had been restored and prominently displayed in the courtyard.

You could have knocked me over with a feather and inserted an Epson printer into my gaping gob.

The mural was indeed preserved using a a foam and crate technique, allowing it to be saw cut into thirty-two sections that were transported into an underground garage, then stacked and stored. The slices were brought back to the plaza in 2020 and reconstructed within a new frame attached to a large masonry wall, all news to me. It looks much better in its new setting than before and, again, I’m flabbergasted and beyond pleased.

The pictures below were taken by Roger and Diane.

In addition to all of that, a live music concert series has begun at the intersection of Stone Ave and Congress St and will continue on Wednesdays from 11am-2pm and on Saturdays from 3-6pm throughout the month of April and in early May with artists such as Heather Hardy, Katherine Byrnes, Don Armstrong, Glendon Gross, Oscar Fuentes, Mark Anthony Febbo, Nancy McCallion, Connie Brannock, Carra Stasney, and many more. I have not found the schedule online so perhaps each artist will get word out of their dates and times.

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And now we visit Dodge City, Kansas, 1977.

And your moment of philo…