Isaac Caruso, an accomplished young Arizona muralist, stopped in Patagonia for just two days in mid-October, but he left his mark in the form of a 10 x 20-foot mural on the side of the Patagonia Market.
The bright image, primarily in pinks and blues, and framed in sparkling metallic paints, will become Page 9 of a 50-page children’s book Caruso has fully sketched out and copyrighted. He is now in the process of representing each page in mural and rhyming text in public places around the state. Before arriving in Patagonia, Isaac had painted 25 of the 50 planned works, in locations including a wall of the Tubac Center for the Arts and the children’s room at the Sierra Vista Public Library.
Sam and Sara are the title characters of the upcoming book. Sara is a young girl whose mother, imaginative and unappreciated for her talents and style, has left the world we know to live in another reality. She becomes a “figment,” takes the form of a sunflower and lives there with her daughter Sara. In “Sam and Sara,” we travel with Sara as she discovers the world of her mother’s past with her new friend Sam. Isaac’s own youth, during which he felt his unique way of communicating and learning were not nurtured, inspired the story.
Caruso is a prolific muralist who began as a graffiti artist as a teenager, tagging buildings and other public places. In his twenties he studied graphic arts, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in visual communication from Northern Arizona University.
His murals can be found on prominent buildings and in private settings around Arizona. Locals may have seen some of his work in Tucson, such as the gigantic cluster of oranges painted on a 50’ by 50’ wall at 9 N. Scott Ave.
Brenda Somoza and Irma Sang, manager and owner of the Patagonia Market, were excited when Linda Shore approached them with the idea of a mural.
“We are first of all so grateful to Linda for having brought an artist of his skill to town to contribute,” Somosa said. “The artwork is beautiful, and Isaac was wonderful to work with. He was always happy to stop his work to chat with people who wanted to know more. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
Shore was introduced to Isaac’s work by Evan Kory, whom locals know for his music and leadership at the Santa Cruz Foundation for the Performing Arts. Kory said, “I met Isaac a few years ago when I was exploring muralists from Arizona on Instagram. We started chatting and became friends quickly. When I started working at the Santa Cruz County School Superintendent’s Office as Arts Director, we planned a summer mural camp for high school students. Isaac and Nogales artist Tony Lucero were the teachers. The large Arizona/Sonora Wildlife mural in downtown Nogales was completed in June. When I learned about Isaac’s ‘Sam and Sara’ project I immediately thought it would be wonderful to have a mural in all of the different areas of the county. We are very grateful to the Patagonia Market for donating a space for this new vibrant mural. The colors are wonderful, and I hope the community enjoys it!”
After just ten hours of work, Caruso completed his mural and spent a night camping at Patagonia Lake with his Bull Terrier, Gustavo. Then he headed off to continue his paid work and to fit in “Sam and Sara” murals where he can.
He has more walls lined up but is looking for additional sites to complete the book. All he requires is a wall in the public view with a large landscape-oriented (wider than tall) space and permission to paint. He’s open to having more than one “Sam and Sara” mural in a given locale. Anyone interested in hosting Caruso’s work can contact him at www.samandsara.org.
The book will be published in “its own time,” according to Caruso. When it becomes available, he hopes that people will go on a “mural hunt” and end up discovering new places around Arizona, spend a little time there, maybe buying lunch or visiting local shops.