It seems like almost every Tucson wall tells a story.
Some of them involve the Virgen de Guadalupe and others involve a man's skull shooting colorful beams of light into the ether. It's weird, but it's where we live.
Why I Love Where I Live
These two murals (with a third one on the way) were commissioned by Why I Love Where I Live to help other people see Tucson's beauty. Artist Danny Martin painted these to coincide with Arizona's 106th birthday in February. Kristin Tovar, co-founder of Why I Love Where I Live, said murals played a role in her own journey toward loving Tucson.
Location: 234 E. 6th St. on the wall of Reproductions, Inc. facing Sixth Street.
Hot tip: The mural of the girl listening to music is actually a tribute to Tacos Apson. Note the album she's listening to.
Tucson greeting card mural
This mural was created last year by traveling artists Victor Ving Lisa Beggs as part of a cross-country mural project called the "Greetings Tour". Local muralist Rock Martinez contributed by adding his artwork to the letter C in TUCSON.
Location: 406 N. 6th Ave. On the back wall of Miller's Surplus.
"Goddess of Agave" mural
This 40-foot creation is another Tucson mural by Martinez. He also had assistance from artist, Cristina Perez. The woman in the mural is painted in the likeness of Brandi Watkins who is Martinez's girlfriend. It's one of eight murals done last summer as part of the Tucson Mural Arts Program.
Location: 440 N. Seventh Ave. The west side wall of the Benjamin Plumbing Supply building.
Hot tip: Try viewing this masterpiece from the Franklin Street Docks.
In Tucson, bicycling plus murals equal perfection. That’s what local muralist Joe Pagac was counting on when he launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund this enormous mural (130 feet wide and 30 feet tall) at Sixth Street and Stone Avenue. It features a man, woman, tortoise javelina and jackrabbit riding bikes.
Location: The back of Epic Rides, 534 N. Stone Ave., facing Sixth Street
Hot tip: Get close and you'll find a hand-painted list of all the donors
Skeleton wearing a man mask
There's a lot of things going on here. When you unzip the dude wearing headphones he becomes a skeleton with shining beams of color emerging from his head. And then there's the people cheering in the background ... Where do I buy tickets for this show?
Location: Behind Exo Roast Co. on Seventh Street and Seventh Avenue.
Hot tip: Perhaps this one is better appreciated with a beer from nearby Tap & Bottle.
It's hard to imagine finding mermaids and water in the Sonoran Desert. We found it and Nemo, actually.
Tucson's favorite muralist Joe Pagac made this one, but you wouldn't know it because it's not signed. "The concept is something perceived as ugly harboring something beautiful inside and protecting it," Pagac said.
This huge mural takes up the whole side of the venue, facing the parking lot. It's difficult to photograph the whole thing.
Location: 191 E. Toole Ave.
Hot tip: It's only 90 percent finished and all the models were homeless people from around Tucson.
All Souls Procession mural
Local artist Susan Kay Johnson’s crazy-long mural will remind you of the All Souls Procession because she painted it to depict the yearly event. The mural takes up a whole block on Ninth Avenue in the Dunbar Spring Neighborhood. Follow it and you’ll feel part of the procession again.
Location: Along Ninth Avenue, south of University Boulevard.
Hot Tip: Johnson also created the All Souls Procession in the 90s.
This mural is a dino's delight
You may have spotted this dinosaur display while cruising down Speedway on your way towards the freeway. This prehistoric mural, which takes up an entire building, is located on the corner of Main Avenue and Helen Street. It's got everything a Jurassic Park fan would love, from a painting of a dinosaur skeleton, erupting volcano to a very fierce looking T-Rex.
Location: 1202 N. Main Ave.
Hot tip: This area is humming during the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase. Take photo with the mural and then go look at real fossils.
Phoenix Mars Mission Mural
This 1,200-square-foot creation that at one point was Tucson's biggest mural, according to the Tucson Citizen. The mural was painted in 2006 by a group of by University of Arizona art students for a class lead by UA professor, Alfred Quiroz, as a way to highlight the UA's contributions to the Phoenix Mars Mission.
Located: Michael J. Drake Building, 1415 N. 6th Ave.
Hot tip: There is another mural on the west side of the building that was also painted by UA art students. It was created during the fall semester of 2014 to commemorate the UA's involvement in the OSIRIS-REx Mission. Watch a timeline of the mural getting painted.
I couldn't find a signature on the mural but after a few minutes of internet stalking (oh, how I love being a millennial), I found out that Irish artist Fin Dac painted this back in November. He travels around the world and paints women of East Asian cultures with an intention to rewire stereotypes surrounding women in that culture.
Location: On Broadway Boulevard and Arizona Avenue, painted on the west-facing wall of the old Lewis Hotel. The new sandwich shop Even Stevens at 178 E. Broadway Blvd. is in that building.
Hot tip: Fin Dac empowers these women by encircling their eyes.
Bill Walton riding a jackalope
The 45-foot wide by 75-foot high mural combines the mythical jackalope with one of Tucson's favorite basketball dad Bill Walton. It's another one of the eight murals done last summer as part of the Tucson Mural Arts Program.
Location: East wall of the Rialto Theatre at 318 E. Congress St.
Hot tip: Muralist Ignacio Garcia had no idea who Bill Walton was before painting the mural, someone actually suggested putting Walton's face on the person riding the jackalope. It makes you think, "Has Bill Walton seen this mural?"
Blue quail and oranges
This is a 50-foot wide by 50-foot high mural is located in an alley by 47 Scott/Scott & Co. I see it every time I walk to or from the cocktail bar. It's also one of the eight murals done last summer as part of the Tucson Mural Arts Program.
Phoenix-based artist Isaac Caruso painted the mural in six days, which he says was the fastest he ever worked. Isaac Caruso actually slept in the air on the lift so that he could work as late as possible. It features a blue quail and ripe oranges, which makes him think of Tucson.
Location: 9 N. Scott Ave.
Hot tip: You can't really take a selfie with this mural but you can use the vibrant blue as a hip background.
Frida and Diego
The “Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in Menlo Park” mural lives south of the Mercado San Agustin on the wall of a residential home and features a dancing Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera in an afterlife celebration. The mural was completed by Rock Martinez in November 2016 for the All Souls Procession.
Location: South of Menlo Park
Fun fact: This mural was was inspired by Diego Rivera's "Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda" mural located in Mexico City.
The Downtown Clifton cowboy and cowgirl
You can find this mural by Tucson artist, Danny Martin, living outside one of the walls in The Downtown Clifton Hotel. The hotel, which opened in 2015, has a ton of Tucson flair to boot.
Location: 485 S. Stone Ave.
Hot tip: Bring some of Martin's artwork into your home with this coloring book of Tucson's neon signs.
Cesar Chavez mural
Continuing south from downtown, you'll see this sweeping mural of what looks like indigenous deities perched next to the Aztec mother goddess Tonan. They're actually historical figures like Leo Tolstoy, Mahatma Gandhi and Chicano activist Cesar Chavez. The scene was painted by by muralist Melchor Ramirez in honor of Chavez.
Location: 760 S. Stone Ave.
Unity Amid Diversity
This one is catty-corner from the Cesar Chavez mural, on the side of the Primavera Foundation building. Whenever it was made, it's definitely '90s in spirit. The real question is, where's that pink guy going???
Location: 702 S. Sixth Ave.
Hot tip: That's supposed to be the earth. Not Saturn ...
La Pilita mural
Tucked back into a side street near the El Tiradito wishing shrine, this mural is one of Barrio Viejo's greatest gems. It was originally painted in the '80s by students under the supervision of muralist Martin Moreno, but was touched up by the artist in 2011. It depicts a Latino family at Gates Pass, with the Aztec feathered serpent deity Quetzalcoatl looking on.
Location: 420 S. Main Ave.
Hot tip: The mural is painted on the side of the now-closed La Pilita Museum, so there's a nice courtyard and places to sit.
Parque de San Cosme mural
Just down Simpson Street from the La Pilita mural is this tour de fource by local muralist Luis Gustavo Mena. It's a sprawling mural with depictions of various athletes, celebrities and even Jesus. Don't miss the message, written in Spanish on the bottom right about "La Vida de nuestros Barrios Viejos." Hint: it's about music.
Location: On Simpson Street just west of Main Avenue
Hot tip: Don't go by the Google location, which says it's on Cushing. It's actually on Simpson.
You can find this one on the south side, at Desert Suds CarWash on South 12th Avenue. It's painted by Rock "Cyfi" Martinez, the muralist behind the Agave Goddess on 6th Street. (For this, he had the help of Fernando Leon.) If you look closely, you can see a UFO.
Location: Desert Suds CarWash at 4610 S. 12th Ave.
Hot tip: $3 express washes, people!
Barrio Centro mural
The Tucson Arts Brigade sponsored the Barrio Centro Community Mural Project called Beautify and Unify in 2011. The mural depicts stories and memories of Barrio Centro resident including social life, music, and the railroad. It stretches more than 170 feet long on a cement block wall in a Lucky Wishbone parking lot.
Location: On the wall next to the Lucky Wishbone at 2721 E. 22nd St.
Hot tip: More than 75 people from the community participated in painting the mural.