Old Pueblo Abuelo: the mural project



The dinosaur wall.

The old Pueblo is starting to stand out for a few exciting things including the many wall paintings that can be found in the city center and around the valley. (Yes, Tucson is a real valley with mountains surrounding us – I don’t know what it is to the north). So a few years ago I started looking at the many empty and ugly walls in our city and tried to imagine what would be nice here and there – kinda like when kids look at the clouds and dream of what they could be.

I became interested in murals when I saw the Wyland Whale murals while visiting Hawaii about 20 years ago. I didn’t do another mural for a long, long time.

My first mural.

This is the 15th installment of “Old Pueblo Abuelo”, a Sunday night reflection on the positive things going on in Old Pueblo from a sometimes grumpy and often humorous grandfather born in Tucson. and I write from my office in Tucson.

Then I found this ugly and forgotten part of my school where weeds grew and wild animals did their thing. It was literally a huge cat box. This space was supposed to be a sandbox for kindergarten classes, but all the fun equipment was on the playground, so it was never used. I built a boardwalk around the perimeter, planted trees and cacti, and added a small fish pond. Then I added a desert mural, an ocean mural, and a rainforest mural.

Our school received a new building for kindergarten a few years later and the architect designed a wall to protect all the air conditioners and that became a huge ocean mural on which the children added paintings. Then a southwest mural (I got a $ 200 grant to help paint this one) was done and then a huge dinosaur fresco which took a very long time as I was only painting 45 minutes at the times. An African safari fresco was also erected.

I painted the solar system before entering the STEM Lab and one of our former teachers, Joanna Dawkins, added an astronaut. Then I painted the Death Star in my office but had to stop because I was using spray paint with no airflow. I couldn’t breathe. I went to the races (at my expense).

From there the six pillars of the character were installed with a rocket, then my attention shifted to several butterflies and a mural of rain and umbrellas. Then came the map of the United States – at least it was meant to be. So many people said they had one in their school that I added Canada and Mexico. North America – so over there.

A large chessboard is mounted and an imaginary caterpillar. Next? Insects.

More of “Old Pueblo Abuelo” can be found here.

I know the murals are part of my Hispanic heritage, so I will never let them go. I know they’ll end up getting repainted because future directors might like white walls and think murals are just graffiti.

I know this to be true because we had a female teacher from one of our sister schools who was teaching summer school at our school about 15 years ago and she noticed that we had prepared a bucket of chalk for sidewalks for students. She told me her manager wouldn’t allow it because he thought the sidewalk chalk was a “gateway” to the graffiti. Barely.

Sidewalk chalk is a tool used to express an imagination, and murals are far from living in a fantasy world. This is where I live most of the time.


Andy Morales was recognized by the AIA as the Best High School Journalist in 2014, he received the Ray McNally Award in 2017, a winner of the AZ Education News Award 2019 and he has been a youth, high school and college coach. for over 30 years. He was the first in Arizona to write about beach volleyball and high school wrestling. His own children have won several state high school championships and have been named to all-state teams. Participating in high school hockey, basketball, baseball and track and field, his unique perspective can only be found here and on AZPreps365.com. Andy is the Southern Arizona voting member for the Ed Doherty Award, recognizing Arizona’s best soccer player, and he has been nominated Local hero by Tucson Weekly for 2016. Andy was named Honorary Flowing Wells Caballero in 2019, became a member of the Sunnyside Los Mezquites Cross Country Hall of Fame in 2021 and he was a member of the Amphi COVID-19 Blue Ribbon committee and he won a Amphitheater Distinguished Service Award. Contact Andy Morales at [email protected]


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