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Best Local Artist/Visual

David Tineo

READERS' PICK: Indefatigable mural artist David Tineo heartily deserves the affection of the town. He's improved some of Tucson's most ragtag spaces and bland facades with the vivid imagery of Mexican mythology, painted in the colors of Mexican folk-art. His corn goddesses and serpents, eagles and stars, fire and comets are all over the place. With "Raíces," a sprawling mural on the north wall at the Tucson Museum of Art, Tineo and collaborator Antonio Passos made a breakthrough for the mural genre, bringing it from the barrio wall to the city's mainstream art institution. "Four Winds," at the El Rio Neighborhood Center, found Tineo in a Michelangelo mode: on scaffolding, painting the ceiling. And check out his other artworks around town: That collection of 10 murals in El Charro restaurant? Tineo. "Compass to the Southwest" on the UA Press building on Park Avenue? Tineo. "Sueño de Cuauhtemoc" at the PCC Downtown Campus, "Historia de la Raza" in the South Tucson Civic Center, "Tenochtitlan" in the UA Douglass Building? Tineo, Tineo, Tineo. The list goes on and on, and that's not even counting his projects with kids. A dozen public schools--from the poverty-stricken south side on up to the rarefied precincts of the foothills--are graced with kid-painted murals supervised by teacher Tineo.

The artist has been working mural genre for about 20 years, when he and other like-minded Chicano artists--Passos, Alfred Quiróz, Manú among them--launched Art for the People, without benefit of grants or government funding or even government attention. The idea caught on, and now it's a given that needy or naughty youths can benefit both by art training and by the opportunity to make their mark on their own neighborhoods with art of their own creation. A Douglas native who grew up in Tucson's Barrio Anita, Tineo nowadays works on summer youth projects with the Tucson/Pima Arts Council, labors in the schools through the Arizona Commission on the Arts and Young Audiences, consults for the city of Tucson, and in his spare time paints his own works on canvas.

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP: Readers love the work of Jim Waid so much that we're tempted to install him in our Hall of Fame. Year after year, they vote him to the heights of our "Best of Tucson" issue. Waid accomplishes what most artists can only dream of. Critics love him and so does everybody else. He's a serious painter who energetically tackles the intellectual complexities of space in his large canvases; but the sheer beauty of his gorgeous colors, undulating lines and reverberating spaces, inspired by the surrealistic Sonoran desert, make his work popular and likable. Waid shows in hot-shot New York and Chicago, but he's a community-minded sort who contributes to local group shows here at home, and he regularly turns up at other people's openings in town. Right now Waid is at work on the biggest painting of his career: a desert evocation that's nine feet high and 50 feet long. In a year's time, it'll be permanently installed in the new federal courthouse downtown. Fans can go and visit it, whenever they want, to their heart's content.

Case History

1997 Winner: Jim Waid
1996 Winner: Gail Marcus-Orlen
1995 Winner: Way Station

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