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Ben's Bells brings 'I am Tucson' mosaic mural back to downtown

Re-creating the work as part of the non-profit's 20th anniversary celebration
The original mural, created in 2012, was taken down in 2019 due to downtown Tucson expansion.
Posted at 11:42 AM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 14:42:08-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Many may remember the "I am Tucson" mosaic mural downtown. It went up in 2012 at the foot of Tucson's tallest building, now referred to as One South Church.

A project of Greater Tucson Leadership, the mosaic mural was created by hundreds of volunteers, incorporating thousands of personalized tiles—each representing a unique slice of the city's culture, community and uniqueness.

It stood as a centerpiece of Downtown Tucson's mural scene for only seven years before being removed for a new development.

Now the non-profit Ben's Bells is re-making the mosaic as part of its 20th anniversary celebration.

The original mural, created in 2012, was taken down in 2019 due to downtown Tucson expansion.
The "I Am Tucson" mosaic mural in Tucson, is part of the Ben's Bells Project, an effort to spread kindness through the creation of murals and bells throughout the community.. It began in 2003 when founder Jeannette Mare's son Ben suddenly died. Since then, Ben's Bells studios have created hundreds of bells and other art installations.

This original mural, created in 2012, was taken down in 2019 due to downtown Tucson expansion.

The new mosaic mural is being built at the front entrance of the Tucson Convention Center, again by community volunteers.

"Re-creating the 'I am Tucson' mural has always been something we have wanted to do," said Ben's Bells Executive Director Helen Gomez. "It has taken a year of planning and months of volunteers coming into the Downtown Studio to create mosaic tiles. We're grateful to the community and to TCC for embracing the importance of visual reminders to practice kindness."

This isn't the first foray into mosaic mural-making for Ben's Bells. The organization is best known for distributing bells around the Tucson community as 'intentional acts of kindness' in remembrance of the death of founder Jeannette Maré’s young son Ben.

But in 2009, Ben's Bells started work on its first large-scale mural at Main Gate Square and has since created numerous "Be Kind" murals in Arizona and Connecticut, most often seen at schools and community organizations.

Photo: Ben's Bells

The effort to re-create the 'I am Tucson' mural at the TCC is again a community effort. The individual mural pieces were created by students, local artists and others, including, once again, members of Greater Tucson Leadership.

If you're interested in volunteering, there are still spots available at the Ben's Bells website.

Anne Simmons is the digital executive producer for KGUN 9. Anne got her start in television while still a student at the University of Arizona. Before joining KGUN, she managed multiple public access television stations in the Bay Area and has worked as a video producer in the non-profit sector. Share your story ideas and important issues with Anne by emailing or by connecting on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.