Inspired by the light

In Tucson you'll find art in the most amazing places

Candice Davis and Mike Dominguez's contemporary-art gallery in Tucson resides in the roomy shell of a former Packard dealership built in the 1930s. It's a terrific space in a lousy neighborhood for art, as the passing traffic is usually vectored into the wheel-alignment shop on the block. But in Tucson, location hardly ever matters: Art is everywhere, and it's continually bumping into people who aren't expecting it.

You might have a life-changing encounter with art in one of the conventional venues - thousands of people have dropped jaw to floor on first viewing Luis Jimenez's Man on Fire in the University of Arizona Museum of Art (UAMA). It's a larger-than-life fiberglass sculpture of a man whose hair morphs into a streak of flame. But you might also stumble upon the Alene Dunlap Smith Memorial Garden (520/624-0595), a pocket park and sculpture garden designed by Barbara Grygutis and tucked into Granada Avenue, Tucson's mansion row of a century past. Or you might happen to drive by any of the several locations of the local restaurant chain Mariscos Chihuahua, note the glorious seascape mural on an outdoor wall, and only later translate the delicious irony: Mariscos means "seafood," and Chihuahua is a landlocked Mexican state. The chain has five locations with murals inside and out. The most fanciful art is at 999 North Swan Road (open daily; 520/881-2372), a location known for its shrimp specials.


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