Cover Up

Forget Final Four fun, painting over a work of art to cheer on the Wildcats is just plain dumb.

There's more to life than basketball.

But try telling that to author Leslie Marmon Silko and the group of Tucsonans who lost the battle to save Silko's mural on a building near downtown. The wall is now covered with what looks like gang graffiti with "GO CATS" painted in 10-foot red and blue letters.

But this is not the act of any marauding Tucson gang. The owner of the building, Tommy Tucker, had it repainted.

Tucker supposedly offered to keep Silko's mural intact, but only if he recieved $4,500 to pay for restuccoing the rest of the building.

Silko began painting the mural in 1987 when she came up against a bad case of writer's block. Over the next year she worked on the mural, and as she painted, characters for her novel "Almanac of the Dead," a future best seller, came to life in her head, and then on the pages of the manuscript.

OK, people in Tucson are psyched up about the Wildcat men's basketball team making it in to the Final Four. And why not? It's a dream for UA basketball fans, and even for those who just want to support their school for pride's sake.

But this is over the edge.

A group of Tucsonans from the neighborhood near the building at 930 N. Stone Ave. have been protesting the destruction, but their letters and in-person protests apparently made no impact.

Tucker never got any money and the mural got the brush off.

Now what used to be a colorful mural, dominated by a red snake, dotted with small skulls, slinking across a yellow background is gone. What used to be a stop on one of the Tucson/Pima art walk tours is gone. The brave words "The people are hungry. The people are cold. The rich have stolen the earth . . . " written in Spanish around the image are gone, replaced by a chant for a basketball team and the imprint of a giant blue cat's paw.

Basketball fever and the almighty dollar won out over art and intellect.

By Editoral Staff
Arizona Daily Wildcat
March 28, 1997

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