Already one of the most vibrant parts of Tucson, Fourth Avenue got an extra splash of color this weekend thanks to more than a dozen local artists.
The covered walkway on the west side of Beacon's Value Village Thrift Store, 300 N. Fourth Ave., was transformed from a shady stretch of sidewalk to a series of art studios, and the bland, beige surfaces of the 13 columns that face the street were replaced by portraits, landscapes and murals.
"It was like a blank canvas, just itching to be painted," said Jodie Lewers, 28. "I jumped at the chance to do this."
Lewers, an art director for a local advertising agency, went out to paint the columns after reading about the project in a Tucson Pima Arts Council newsletter.
The results were "way better than I could have hoped for," said Chris Oliva, an assistant manager at Beacon's who organized the project. "Every single (column) came out differently."
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Oliva, who has worked at the store for three years, said he got the idea for the modified ionic columns after learning that murals used to cover all sides of the building but were painted over with basic beige.
"It was just so bland," he said. "I thought it'd be cool to let artists showcase their talents."
Using paint they brought with them or some of the 10 quarts donated by the Sherwin-Williams store at 1802 W. Grant Road, the artists converted their concrete canvases while stereos played loudly from their cars parked along the street.
The northernmost column, painted by Lewers and three others, was turned into a sun-and-moon motif. Bright oranges and yellows made up the north and west sides while blacks, blues and grays shaded the south and east sides.
The southernmost column resembled colors from a child's crayon box, as artist Hilary Meehan went heavy on bright lime, mint and what she called "school-eraser pink" for her display, which included oversized paintings of a blender, a guitar, a paper clip and a teddy bear.
"I'm a big fan of color, as you can see," said Meehan, 33, who has a studio Downtown and frequents Fourth Avenue.
Other column designs included scorpions, skulls, dragons, cityscapes and nature scenes.
Artist Gary Morrison was still unsure how his column would end up, considering he started late Sunday morning after stumbling onto the project while walking his dog.
"I'm thinking this through as I go," Morrison, 56, said. "I set up a chair across the street so I can get enough distance to see how it's coming together."
The project drew plenty of stares from passers-by on foot and in cars. Some vehicles could be seen passing the building in both directions to get a better view of the works in progress.
"This is just so amazing that we had to stop," said Leslie Miller, who along with friend Steve Jeffery took a detour from typical Sunday plans to check out the columns. "It's really just great to see artists do their work. It just makes Tucson more unique."
"It's really just great to see artists do their work. It just makes Tucson more unique."
Leslie Miller, a passer-by