Murals showcase Tucson talent, fight tagging

TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - If you're driving through the intersection of 29th Street and Columbus Boulevard, look up.

Wednesday, the Tucson Arts Brigade dedicated the beautiful murals that now adorn the pedestrian bridge that crosses.

This two-year-long project involved Tucsonans, young and old.

The non-profit group's mission is to beautify Tucson, give neighborhoods pride, and combat tagging.

The young artists were beaming today.

17-year-old Paola Rodriguez told us, "I'm really proud. Makes me feel good. I have something of mine somewhere in the city."

"I love doing art. I've been doing art since I was three and I love doing it still," said eight-year-old muralist Jasmine Lee.

"This place belongs to my heart, and even the bridge belongs to the community and I wanted to help," said 12-year-old Massielle Jaramillo.

Tucson Arts Brigade Executive Director Michael Schwartz says this is the group's fifth mural.

He says some of the artists were once taggers.  This gives them an outlet that beautifies the city.

Schwartz says his group is proposing a citywide solution to tagging through the arts.

He estimates Tucson Arts Brigade murals have saved the city more than two million dollars over three years by preventing tagging around the artwork locations.

He says that amount includes the judicial, cleanup and recidivism costs of tagging.

Schwartz says his group's study indicates there has been up to an 80% drop in tagging where the artwork is located.

Schwartz says now that they have the proof, they would like to get funding, plus engage with the courts so taggers can be sentenced to time with the arts brigade.

Schwartz envisions an anti-tagging program for juveniles and adults.

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