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Robert Colescott

Painter Robert Colescott, age 72, this summer represented the U.S. at the Venice Biennale, the most prestigious of the international art fairs, with a one-person show of exuberant acrylic paintings. A retired University of Arizona art professor, he's lived in Tucson for 13 years.

Best Reason To Live And Work In Tucson

It's cheap. The climate is good. It grows on you. The first year I didn't care for it at all: too hot, too dusty, too isolated. After a year you start to feel the special character it has. It's good for an artist like myself. I'm traveling all the time. When I'm here, it seems to be the place for turning inward. I'm on the move a lot; but I come here, settle in and do my work.

Best Advice To Young Tucson Artists

Get out of town. I don't see a career here unless somebody has been outside and has made contacts, worked and created some kind of impact elsewhere. There's not much for a young artist to do here, there isn't much of a place to go.... There are personal reasons to be here--a love of the desert, and not every artist is going after a career. But (if you are), go to Chicago. It's a big city with terrific collections. In Tucson there are no collections to study. There's a huge amount of influence that can be had (in big cities), galleries, museum collections, other artists. People need to be in a place like that. Otherwise, everything is kind of inbred. (As a young man) I went to Paris and lived in Paris four years. I lived in Cairo a couple years. I found San Francisco to be too small for what I wanted.

Best Architecture

I have an ex-favorite building. It was the main branch of First Interstate Bank (downtown). Wells Fargo has ruined it. It's a Spanish Revival building; it was quite wonderful. Inside there were murals done by somebody who knew what he was doing. It had high, vast ceilings. It was a noble space. Wells Fargo took over and remodeled. Now it's like two buildings, Spanish Revival outside, art moderne inside. They lowered the ceilings and made the murals like little windows in the decor. Wells Fargo seems to be dedicated to nostalgia and the past only as far as their covered wagons go.

Best Mexican Food

There are a number of Mexican restaurants I like in South Tucson, but there's no one favorite place. My favorite Mexican dish would be a green chili burro.

Best Reason To Raise Kids In Tucson

They don't have colds in the winter! For a kid to grow up so free, freed by the climate, that's something...There's a reasonably worthwhile public school system. You don't have to send your kid to private school like you do in some East Coast cities.

Best Reason For This Summer To Be Over

The whole summer was distracting, but you do different things at different times. Now I'm doing some things on paper, acrylic and watercolor together. I'm working again.

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