By Helen Serras-Herman - 1/6/2022

The village of Tubac is located about 40 miles south of Tucson, via an easy and scenic drive along Interstate I-19 south towards Nogales. Tubac was originally an O-odham Native American village. It was established in 1752 as a Royal Spanish presidio, a fortress known as San Ignacio de Tubac to protect the missions and settlements located along the Santa Cruz River and Valley. It is the oldest European settlement in Arizona. In 1775, Captain Juan Batista de Anza led an expedition of 240 colonists from Tubac to California and founded the city of San Francisco.

In the 1850s, Tubac was the headquarters for silver mining in the area under Charles D. Poston, who established the Sonora Exploring and Mining Company. Tubac Presidio State Historic Park provides extensive historical exhibits. Original historic buildings house the Griffin Museum, Otero Hall, Rojas House, the 1885 Territorial Schoolhouse, the Washington Press, which still prints today the 1859 newspaper, and the Stairway to the Past, which leads to the underground exhibits. Among them is a wonderful, educational display of the silver mining history in Tubac, along with a cabinet filled with local minerals, and a special exhibit of Historic Calabasas (contemporary Rio Rico).

Since the eighteenth century, Tubac has seen its population grow and decline. During the nineteenth century, miners, farmers, and ranchers came in, but between the 1930s and 1960s artists relocated and restored old historic buildings, transforming them into working artist studios and fine art galleries, making the town today famous as an artists’ colony.

A favorite annual event is the Tubac Festival of the Arts, which will run from Wednesday, February 9, through Sunday, February 13, 2022, 10 AM to 5 PM every day. It is the longest running festival in Southern Arizona, originally organized by the Santa Cruz Valley Art Association in 1969. About 200 visiting artist exhibitors fill the streets of Tubac with their tent booths and artwork. Together with the over 100 shops, working artist studios, and fine art galleries, they welcome thousands of visitors. Admission is free, but there is a charge for event parking.

You will have a most enjoyable day at the charming, sundrenched, history-rich, and art-opulent village of Tubac. One of the best fine art galleries in Tubac is Art Gallery H. The gallery owners, Karl and Audrey Hoffman, both wonderful local jewelry artists, have created a unique art-filled space where you can also find my artwork, only steps away from the town’s welcome sign: Tubac – Where Art & History Meet. 

Helen Serras-Herman, a 2003 National Lapidary Hall of Fame inductee, is an acclaimed gem sculptor with over 39 years of experience in unique gem sculpture and jewelry art. See her work at and her business Facebook page at Gem Art Center/Helen Serras-Herman