Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Earl Wettstein's Comment on The Burrito Files

Congratulations. Nice PR story on your art project in the Tucson Citizen.
I have some ideas on what should be in your downtown burrito.
First of all… about your desire to make us an art Mecca? If only, huh?
There are, what, six art Mecca’s in America, and 100,000 (really) new artists (me included) coming out of America’s art schools every year. Yikes. I see art Mecca’s in Scottsdale, Santa Fe, Miami now with Art Basel, New York of course, maybe Jackson Hole if you count Western art, and Los Angeles if only for it’s fabulous contemporary museums. Thank you Eli Broad.

What our downtown burrito needs is exactly what you said, something we already have and promote it. What we have is a vivid western history. I wish it were art, but TPAC is here to help do that and you see what they accomplish. You may wish to contact the Contemporary Art Society at TMA and see if they would like to help you. The current president is Barbara Jo McLaughlin, a terrific young woman artist sculptor.

But what I would like downtown Tucson to include inside its burrito skin is a tribute to what we have been and what would bring people here to buy your art, and that is a Wild West Museum. Tucson has an image of being wild and western. Or we used to have that before the tourism gurus decided that resorts were more saleable than history. The top Tucson money making attraction used to be Old Tucson before that fire burned it down and they rebuilt a plastic version that had none of the old panache of the original.

I think people across the US of A still think the Wild West starts here in Arizona. Why not a Wild West Museum that would be a drawing card for tourists, who in turn will buy our art? People would come here to feel the old west and they would leave their art dollars among us.
Once they come here with their wallets ready, they will buy all sorts of art from contemporary to western.

In 2007 I created an elaborate presentation on such a museum. I called it Tucson’s Wild West Museum. I presented it to many, many influential people including most of the current city council, only to have them say “Where’s the money, Earl?” I do not have that kind of money, but I did have stuff to put in the museum in the form of western and western movie artifacts saved from Old Tucson by my friend Bob Shelton, who used to own and run it.

Yet these politicians were - and are - sitting on millions of Rio Nuevo dollars they are spending on things like a Science Center for the UofA and a rebuild of the old Convento, which no local will go see more than once, and which tourists will not stop to see at all. But I am old and long in the tooth, and out of energy to keep after them. Your youth and energy are your best weapons.
If you would like to see what I proposed back then, I can email you the 10 page prospectus, and US mail you a picture of what I envisioned.

Burritos need spice, and the Wild West is spicy.

Good luck,

Earl Wettstein

NOTE: "The museum itself will be over 35,000 square feet and three stories tall, and will be housed inside a ten-story iconic cowboy hat. It is the world’s first 10,000,000 gallon hat." (from the prospectus. I'll include more details in the next post.)

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