Tucson lawmaker: Career as artist provides flexibility and perspective for work at Capitol

By ELIZABETH SHELL
Cronkite News Service

TUCSON — “Life’s too short for beige,” Steve Farley said, standing in his backyard looking at the color palette he’s painted his home: sandy peach, Easter-egg turquoise and a rich purple.

 

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State Rep. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, makes a living creating works of art such as a tiled saguaro at his home. Farley says his occupation provides the flexiblity necessary for him to commit months to the legislative session and provides a perspective on the importance of the arts despite Arizona’s economic challenges.
(Cronkite News Service Photo by Elizabeth Shell)

But what stands out the most also happens to be what Farley does for a living: hundreds of painted ceramic tiles on the back of his house together form a two-story saguaro cactus in shades of green and gray.

Farley, a photographer, graphic designer and public artist, said a benefit of his work is it gives him the income and flexible schedule needed to support his other career: serving as a state representative.

Without it, Farley said, he wouldn’t have been able to run for the Legislature in 2006.
“This year we’ve been in session basically all year long,” said Farley, a Democrat. “What you get when you only pay people in the Legislature $24,000 a year is people who are independently wealthy, they’re self-employed with odd hours like me, they’re retired or their spouse is supporting them. And you don’t get people from quote-unquote normal jobs. And that’s unfortunate.”

For Farley, the road to becoming a representative was similar to when he first started in public art 12 years ago…

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