Monday, May 25, 2015

Fred Tieken

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Last March, Fred Tieken unveiled his wily vision of the First Friday art walk scene with “Buzzz,” a 126-foot-long mural at 124 W. McDowell Road. The creation features more than 50 characters, including the usual First Friday suspects – cops, a fire-breather, mohawked teens, and an assortment of art-scene regulars. “It’s a cross-section of a certain lifestyle that most people in Arizona don’t know exists,” Tieken says.

Based on a panoramic painting by Tieken, and commissioned by nearby  Vermillion Studio, the mural excels as a bulk-rate sampler of Tieken’s work, which seems ubiquitous this season even though the Chicagoan-turned-Paradise Valley resident is relatively new to the local art scene.

In 2010, Tieken faced the prospect of going on dialysis but received a kidney from his wife, Gail. He was sufficiently shaken by the experience to trade his award-winning graphic design career for his true passion. Born in a one-room Illinois home, Tieken had always wanted to be an artist. He also enjoyed modest success in the ’60s with his band, Freddie Tieken and the Rockers. After his surgery, Tieken quickly sold several pieces of his art at Figarelli Galleries in Scottsdale and has since had more than 12 shows. “It has been a whirlwind of shows and awards,” Tieken, 76, says. “I love it.” Check out his canvases at 6th Avenue Gallery in Phoenix Oct. 4-22 and at Gallo Blanco Café & Bar in Phoenix Nov. 1-26, or visit

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“Time Marches On,” left; “Primal Beat,” right