On a warm Saturday in late February, Elsie Bia was outdoors in Sonoita, hard at work at her loom. A basket of woolen yarns was at her feet, dyed in the rich earth colors of Dinétah, the Navajo homeland: maroon, green, tan, white and black. Bia, 64, was deftly threading the colored strands through the taut warp yarns.“Since I was 14, I’ve been weaving,” she says. “My mom taught me. I’m from a long line of weavers.”She had already spent a month on the piece, weaving abstract patterns around the bottom of the tapestry and starting on the deep red background. The next two months would be devoted to the centerpiece: a tall, thin human figure rendered in an angular geometry. It was to be a woven image of a Yei Be Chei, one of the human dancers who portray the Yei—Holy People or gods—in traditional Navajo ceremonies.“I’ve done different kinds of these,” Bia says, adding that the first weavings she ever made, under the tutelage of her mother, Annie Bia, were Yei Be Cheis.Bia works on commission for Steve Getzwiller, a trader who owns the Nizhoni Ranch Gallery, weaving works that he later sells. Normally she weaves at her home in Chinle, the Navajo town at the entrance to Canyon de Chelly, but this day, with the help of her daughter Ramona and grandsons Kevin and Dylan, she’s hauled her loom to Sonoita, and set it up on the Getzwiller’s porch.Her demo of her ancestors’ art helped kick off Woven Holy People, the gallery’s remarkable exhibition of traditional Yei Be Chei weavings. The show has some 65 weavings total that depict Holy People and other figurative images. A few of them are fresh from the looms of Bia and other contemporary Navajo artists, but the bulk are prized historic works from the first half of the 20th century.
Nestled in the southern reaches of the Catalina Foothills is a collection of art on display unlike any other; a vast array of some of the most fascinating miniature models of homes, furniture, vehicles and even a few fantasy worlds. The Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is the creation of the imagination and passion of founders Patricia and Walter Arnell, though their love of miniatures and dollhouses has since expanded into a collection of historical models, as well as recreations of the past by contemporary artists.The museum hosts three separate sections: a history gallery, an “exploring the world” gallery and an enchanted realm of fantasy themed miniatures. The models come to the institution from local artists, as well as national and international contributors.“It’s a really magical environment,” said Lisa Hastreiter-Lamb, associate director & director of education at the museum. “Because there is something for everyone, from small children to seniors and adults. You can learn about history, you can learn about culture, but you’re imagination can also play and go off on many different directions.”Museum-goers will have a chance to literally look through windows into past lives, and take a glimpse at daily occurrences of those living in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries. More than just a treat to see, Hastreiter-Lamb said one of the most unique aspects of the museum is the ability for guests to project themselves into the miniatures and imagine what it would be like to live in each display. In addition to “living” in the miniatures, people also relate many of their own life experiences to what they see at the museum, which adds to an ever-growing collection of living history which the museum represents.
Tucsonan Jennifer Lee Carrell is the author of three novels, including The Speckled Monster and Haunt Me Still. She’s also an organizer with next weekend’s Tucson Festival of Books. She recently appeared on Zona Politics with Jim Nintzel to talk about some of the highlights of this year’s festival. This interview is a lightly edited transcript.The eighth annual Tucson Festival of Books is coming up. How big a deal has the festival become since its launch in 2009?To everybody’s surprise, it’s now the fourth largest book event in the country. And it’s something we’re very excited about, and I think all of Tucson can justly be proud of. We have authors who really want to come now. We used to have to, you know, sort of go out and say, “Would you please come?” And now we’ve got publicists and authors asking to come. And it’s just it’s a really exciting time. It’s an incredible range: mysteries and literary fiction, fantasy and science fiction and history and nonfiction of almost every topic imaginable.
The Children’s Museum Tucson has always been a unique local establishment, but after being selected as one of 30 finalists for a nationwide museum and library competition, it stands apart even more.As one of only two children’s museum’s nominated — and the only museum nominated out of Arizona — the Children’s Museum Tucson is in the running for the 2016 National Medal for Museum and Library Service, considered the nation’s highest honor for museums and libraries that have an impact and contribution in their community. For more than two decades, the award has been granted to institutions demonstrating innovation and public service. “The Children’s Museum Tucson has strived to be accessible to everyone and provide all children and their families a quality, educational experience,” said Executive Director Michael Luria. “This recognition by the Institute of Library and Museum Services is proof that we are well on our way to serving our community — all of our community — with excellence.”As many successful concepts-turned-reality do, the Children’s Museum has continued to evolve over the last 22 years of its establishment by adding new exhibits, educational programs and community events. The museum focuses on providing children a hands-on, interactive learning experience, while also giving families a uniting, recreation option focused on arts, sciences and humanities. “Furthermore, we have strengthened our commitment to access at the museum as we believe accessibility to our play based learning experience is a right, not a privilege, for children and their families throughout southern Arizona,” said Teresa Truelsen, director of marketing. That mentality is supported by the numbers. In 2015, Truelsen said, more than 34,000 people visited the museum on free or reduced-admission days, equating to a $240,000 investment into the community.
We’re jazzy and classy, sassy and sweet We dance to the music, we move to the beat.Dressed in black sequins with black fishnet hoseWe pay homage to Broadway and those Great White Way shows.We kick up our heels, we tap with our canesWe wear bright yellow slickers, to dance in the rain.
Nearly three dozen professional artists from the Northwest and West Tucson area have banded together to sponsor a new art tour event for the fall — Art Trails 2015 W/NW Open Studio Tour.The free studio tour will run from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 24 and 25, allowing visitors the opportunity to view artists’ works and discuss the process of creating art with the artists. For a map of the studios, listing of participating artists and links to their works, go to http://www.arttrails.org/.Candace Greenburg, one of the event’s organizers and the owner of Greenburg Studio at 12255 W. Sunset Rd., said the inaugural event is designed to expose members of the public to the way artists create their work.“Many people are surprised to find there’s an artist living in their neighborhood,” Greenburg said. “This is the perfect opportunity to get to know them and their work better. Artists enjoy meeting with people and talking about their work.”Greenburg, a graduate of the University of Arizona, has spent 20 years in the artist in residency program for the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Her background is in acrylic painting and photography, she said, until five years ago when she began sculpting in wax.“Most of my sculpting work is figurative abstract,” Greenburg pointed out. “It’s a very old-world way of sculpting that’s been done for centuries. You sculpt wax by hand, then take it to a foundry where they do the lost wax casting when the wax is replaced with a hot bronze metal. The piece is then cleaned up and a patina is added through a chemical process to come up with the coloration the artist desires.”
Christian Youth Theater takes to the skies with the Man of Steel in “It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s Superman!” from Oct. 9– 11 at the Pima Community College Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre.“It’s A Bird! It’s A Plane! It’s Superman!” is based on the comic book character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster and published by DC Comics.It’s the tale of Superman’s efforts to defeat a vengeful scientist who seeks to destroy the world’s symbol of good. Additionally, there is tension betweenSuperman and a columnist for the Daily Planet newspaper because of the superhero’s attraction to Lois Lane.“Superman is one of the most fun, most humorous shows I’ve ever done. I can’t wait to share it with Tucson,” said CYT executive director Kathy Thuerbach.CYT’s “It’s A Bird!, It’s A Plane, It’s Superman!” will have four public performances from Oct. 9–11 at Pima Community College Center for the Arts Proscenium Theatre.
Witness a rare full eclipse of the moon this Sunday, Sept. 27 outside the UA Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium (1601 E. University Blvd). The eclipse is the capstone on the center's Moon Week with family-friendly lunar activities at Flandrau all week. Use state of the art telescopes to watch the eclipse. Free admission. Partial eclipse starts at 6:10 p.m. with the moonrise with the total eclipse peaking at 7:12 p.m.
Have you or anyone you know thought about taking an improv class, but weren't sure if it was right for you? OR, maybe you've just been to a show and thought it might be fun to do a little improv!Well, now's your chance to get a sample of what our classes are like, AND have some fun! On Saturday, September 26th from Noon to 3pm we will be having an introduction to improv workshop at Unscrewed Theater. TIckets are only $15 AND include a free ticket to that night's family-friendly improv show!We will play some warm exercises, learn the basic rules of improv and play some really fun games! You'll be able to get a great feel for what and how we teach. It will be a really fun afternoon taught by two of our amazing instructors (and Not Burnt Out Just Unscrewed players!) You can even purchase this class as a gift for someone who loves to laugh! So come have a great time with us! To sign up go to unscrewedtheater.org
Half of a million LEGO® bricks will arrive at the Tucson Botanical Gardens this fall. Nature Connects©, a traveling LEGO brick exhibit featuring 13 nature-inspired sculptures, will be on display from Sept. 11 to Jan. 3. The impressive designs are the work of certified LEGO artist, Sean Kenney. Tucson Botanical Gardens is the first and only venue in Arizona to host the award-winning exhibit. Throughout the gardens, guests will see a giant hanging corn spider, a Galapagos tortoise with a Darwin finch, a six-foot Monarch butterfly and more, all built from LEGO bricks.During the four-month exhibit, guests of all ages will discover the connections between art, nature, play and design. A LEGO brick playroom will be available on select dates for guests to build their own creations; the LEGO Movie will be shown monthly in the evenings amongst and a LEGO brick design challenge will encourage builders of all ages to show off.Nature Connects, A LEGO Brick Exhibit:Sept. 11 – Jan. 38:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
The Civic Orchestra of Tucson, the oldest community orchestra in Pima County, is seeking to add musicians to take part in its upcoming 40th concert season.According to Music Director Dr. Herschel Kreloff, the orchestra has announced openings for the following instruments:Principal celloViolaHornDouble bassTimpaniThe Civic Orchestra of Tucson welcomes volunteer musicians all of ages and backgrounds, from students through retirees. More information about the orchestra and its upcoming season can be found at www.cotmusic.org.The orchestra rehearses on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. at the Tucson Jewish Community Center, 3800 E. River Road.Musicians interested in auditioning for the orchestra should call (520) 730-3371 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Once a year, to celebrate the blooming of the peniocereus greggii. The plant, also known as the "Queen of the Night" blooms just for one night, for a few hours every year. The event, which is free for Tohono Chul members and $5 for the general public, starts at 6 p.m. and goes until midnight. Attendees can have dinner in the Garden Bistro, Sonoran hotdogs, desserts, prickly pear lemonade and drinks from the Mobile Bistro. There will also be presentations. Remember to bring a flashlight, wear closed toe shoes and your Tohono Chul membership card.And keep that membership card out for the next morning, when members only are invited to see the last of the blooms from 6:30 to 8 a.m.Tohono Chul is located at 7366 N Paseo Del Norte.