/ Modified jul 18, 2013 4:39 p.m.

Tucson Arts Brigade Seeks to Engage Communities Through Art

Murals tell history of neighborhood, provide catalyst for overcoming difficulties.

(VIDEO: AZPM)

Michael Schwartz is an artist, and the executive director of the nonprofit organization known as Tucson Arts Brigade.

Schwartz says TAB provides civic engagement opportunities through the arts.

“We’re a community arts and education organization,” he says. “We involve the community in the design, the creation, and even the genesis of the art works.”

Josh Jacobson owns a Lucky Wishbone restaurant adjacent to the Tucson Arts Brigade Mural in the Barrio Centro neighborhood. He says the mural is more than just a beautification project; it plays an important role in strengthening the community.

“We had various planning meetings here with the kids,” Jacobson said. “The ‘elder-shares’ were amazing meetings. We had the living historians of the area come in and share with us.”

Schwartz says the history of the neighborhood is depicted in the Barrio Centro mural and serves as a catalyst for community involvement. Students interviewed neighborhood elders and used their information in the design process.

Schwartz says not everyone involved in the production of a mural will become an artist, but “for all of them the process will somehow inform their life-goals and decision-making.”

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