The weekend may have started off a bit chilly, by Tucson standards, but this is not the one to spend inside staring at television. This Saturday and Sunday, Tucson artists invite you to “Explore art in your neighborhood!” during the spring open studio tour. One of the year’s best arts-related programs it is “the seventh year that the Spring Tucson Artists’ Open Studios has been a grassroots, artist-initiated event, produced by artists for artists and the public.”
Although not affiliated with the Open Studios project, one of the highlights of the weekend will be the fifteenth annual Urban Picnic, benefitting Ballet Tucson on Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the courtyard gardens of La Encantada Shopping Center, here in Tucson. It is described as “An uncommon affair of art, dance, and music to whet your artistic appetite.”
Each year, a number of prominent artists donate original works for art for a live auction at Urban Picnic, and all proceeds go directly to supporting our wonderful local ballet company. In keeping with the picnic theme, a number of the pieces in this year’s auction are inspired by the concept of lunchboxes. When we consider lunchboxes, we may not necessarily think of fine art, but think again.
At a preview of this year’s donated artwork, held Thursday evening at Jane Hamilton Fine Art, I was most impressed by the creativity and originality of the pieces created especially for Sunday’s event. I was particularly taken with Tom Spitz’s work, a camera case populated by hundreds of tiny toys and figurines: dinosaurs, dolls, astronauts, cartoon characters, and a diminutive chimp in a glass case—a shadow box within a shadow box/lunchbox. Other featured artists include Linda Allyn, Steven Derks, Francisco Gonzales, Catherine Orrantia, William Skiles, Jennifer Suhm, and Kathy Taylor. In addition, numerous others have submitted a variety of paintings and drawings for a silent auction.
During the auction, bidders and guests will be invited to enjoy mimosas and an al fresco picnic lunch provided by Annette Hartman Catering. Following the auction, there will be live musical entertainment and a performance by Ballet Tucson’s talented professional dancers. A preview of the remarkable lunchbox creations can be viewed on the Ballet Tucson website.
Tickets are $45 per person, and may be reserved by calling Ballet Tucson at (520) 903-1445.
And if you are out and about, basking in the weird and wonderful creativity of our local artists on the weekend studio tour, my top pick is Liz Vaughn—one of my favorite Tucson artists, and prominently featured in my personal art collection. She will exhibiting alongside talented silversmith Lisa Marie Morrison, owner of Sirocco Design.
And now I am shutting down the computer and heading out to see all the art I can cram into one weekend. The sun just came out, and the weather forecast for tomorrow is sounding better all the time. Mimosas, an art lunchbox auction, and an outdoor ballet performance all in one? Only in Tucson.