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Luis Gustavo Mena

Luis Gustavo Mena is the third of Tucson's most active muralists. Unlike Pazos and Tineo, however, Mena has done much of his work for owners of commercial buildings. His murals move between advertising and cultural statements.

Pink Cadillac on the 12th Avenue Car wash by Luis Gustavo Mena
"Pink Cadillac" on the 12th Avenue Car wash by Luis Gustavo Mena,
4600 South 12th Avenue, 1985. July 1986 photo
[image courtesy of James S. Griffith]

Much of Mena's work is on commercial buildings such as this, and reflects the business that commissioned the work as well as the interests and values of Chicano culture.

Mixteca Royal by Luis Gustavo Mena, Xochimilco (formerly Hacienda #2) Restaurant, 2702 South 4th Avenue, 1985
"Mixteca Royal" by Luis Gustavo Mena, Xochimilco (formerly Hacienda #2)
Restaurant, 2702 South 4th Avenue, 1985. 1987 photo
[image courtesy of James S. Griffith]

This mural, with figures taken from a Mixtec codex from southern Mexico, has survived a change of restaurant ownership.

These next three images illustrate the changing face of Tucson's Ray & Sons store on West 22nd Street. The first two murals, both by Luis Mena, were photographed in 1979 and 1987.


Mural at Ray & Sons, 1979
[image courtesy James S. Griffith]

Mural at Ray & Sons, 1987
Mural at Ray & Sons, 1987
[image courtesy James S. Griffith]

The third mural at Ray & Sons was created by Paul Lira and photographed in 1996.

Ray & Sons mural, photographed in 1996
Mural at Ray & Sons, 1996
[image courtesy James S. Griffith]

Business signs are among the most ephemeral -- and most exciting -- forms of Mexican American public art.

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