Banner-University Medicine commissions 5 new murals to brighten Tucson’s landscape

Banner-University Medicine commissions 5 new murals to brighten Tucson’s landscape
Joe Pagac at work on massive new mural at 2320 N. Campbell Avenue. (Source: Banner-University Medicine)

TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Tucsonans will be seeing a few more colorful murals decorating the sides of buildings across the city, they are there thanks to local artists and Banner-University Medicine.

"The city’s vibrant arts scene and colorful murals are part of what makes Tucson special," said Chad Whelan, MD, CEO of Banner – University Medicine in Tucson, in a recent news release. "We were looking for relaxing artwork that speaks to health, healing and togetherness."

One such mural, an unusual sight to see in the desert, is whales swimming; it is on a building at 2320 N. Campbell Ave, on the corner of East Grant Road and North Campbell Avenue, put there by artist - Joe Pagac.

There are four more going up around Tucson at the following locations:

  • Jessica Gonzales, 2425 N. Oracle Road
  • Ignacio Garcia, 246 N. Fourth Ave.
  • Lalo Cota, (1) 3443 E. Speedway Blvd. and (2) 3540 N. Oracle Road

More on the artists and the inspiration behind their murals:

Joe Pagac is a Tucson-based artist and muralist who enjoys sharing his art with the Tucson community, which he loves so dearly. His work reflects that love through the use of the brilliant colors reflected in the vast Arizona and Southwest landscapes. Many of his murals also incorporate the diverse plants and animals of the region as well as the breathtaking sunsets, which are near and dear to Joe’s heart.

Joe Pagac mural at 2320 N. Campbell Ave
Joe Pagac mural at 2320 N. Campbell Ave (Source: Banner-University Medicine)

About the artwork: This design represents the idea of thriving even in a harsh environment. The whales are a family. Tucson is represented by the sky and the mountain and the cacti. As locals we carry the pride of the landscape on our shoulders and our backs, but we also subtly exist among it, which is why I’ve offered it to be included under the family of whales as they take deep breaths in their journey flowing over it.

Jessica Gonzales is a Tucson-based artist and muralist. She has a BFA from the University of Arizona. She loves to evoke emotion in her work through the use of bold colors. Jessica often incorporates elements from the Tucson nature environment in her work and believes that the true nature of a person and their spirit can be represented in a variety of ways.

Jessica Gonzales mural at 2425 N. Oracle Road
Jessica Gonzales mural at 2425 N. Oracle Road (Source: Banner-University Medicine)

About the artwork: The feathers represent a weight off the shoulders, and the strip of orange color across the woman’s face to represents the soothing sensation of the warm sun on the skin and fresh air. Tucson is represented by the mountains and plant life. The woman’s gaze is meant to connect with the viewer and feel personal, and her expression is meant to be one of confidence and warmth, both things you’d want in a caregiver like Banner. The glowing heart near her own heart is meant to reflect a sense of compassion and nurturing and her offering of love and care.

Ignacio Garcia has produced various types of public art since 2003. He thrives displaying a distinct emotional and physical reaction to all of his artwork, invoking the most unpredictable and authentic reactions from each viewer. Per Ignacio: Ever since childhood I have noticed that I see the world in a unique and expansive fashion. I have always seen the separate components, such as shapes, forms, flow, emotional expression, lights, darks, flaws, and strengths that manifest the total scheme. I thrive to display a distinct emotional and physical reaction to all of my artwork.

Ignacio Garcia mural at 246 N. Fourth Ave.
Ignacio Garcia mural at 246 N. Fourth Ave. (Source: Banner-University Medicine)

About the artwork: Inspiration was drawn from seeing a woman relaxed. The stylized background texture showcases comfort and tranquility; the feeling of fresh air. The gentle and cool colors are soothing to enrich a better life.

Lalo Cota is a Mexican-American surrealist painter who has achieved a large regional following in Arizona. With murals and exhibitions in Cuba, Mexico, South America and Europe, Lalo is building his international influence. His use of vibrant hues pay homage to a style influenced by indigenous Mexican cultures, European surrealism and modern street art. His paintings often express the delights and horrors of modern life; evoking feelings of both absolute despair and absolute joy.

One of two murals by Lalo Cota, this one will be at 3443 E. Speedway Blvd.
One of two murals by Lalo Cota, this one will be at 3443 E. Speedway Blvd. (Source: Banner-University Medicine)

About the artwork (1): The heart symbolizes the body and health and well-being as well a passion, love and caring. I have localized the image of the heart by adding the cacti with its blooming flowers. They reference heart valves in a way. To me, the heart can be considered a symbol of Banner – University Medicine itself. With the addition of the local fauna, such as the hummingbird the wildcat and the second large butterfly, we see more references to the desert life and creatures. It can also be interpreted as more of a community or ecosystem with the bird feeding on the nectar and water of the cactus flower and cactus itself. The butterfly also makes a home out of the cactus. The bobcat is looking at the bird. The Arizona Wildcat is the mascot of the University of Arizona. So there is a subtle reference to the university.

The second mural by Lalo Cota will be at 3540 N. Oracle Road
The second mural by Lalo Cota will be at 3540 N. Oracle Road (Source: Banner-University Medicine)

About the artwork (2): I have created a bright and colorful world that is fanciful and surreal yet rooted in the local environment. It is meant to be bold, folksy and simple. In these designs you can see that the lungs are at the center of the composition and are intertwined with the roots of the large tree. There are typical sunset colors in the sky. You can see local flora in the form of the cacti and also a butterfly. The tree is creating oxygen and thus life.

In Tucson, Banner – University Medicine is the academic arm of nonprofit Banner Health that operates Banner – University Medical Center Tucson, Banner – University Medical Center South and Banner – University Medical Group, the practice group of University of Arizona physician faculty.

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