Archive for the ‘Things To Do In Tucson’ Category
I notice on our SouthernArizonaGuide.com Events Calendar that there is quite a bit happening this coming weekend. Many of these happenings could be included in our Things To Do With Kids section. Ms. Karen, my 94-year-old father, & I will be doing a photo shoot at Tohono Chul Park’s Holiday Nights. I’d like to go to the Bisbee Historic Home Tour, but with our granddaughter & her boyfriend coming for Thanksgiving, I imagine a trail ride at Tanque Verde Guest Ranch or Colossal Cave Mountain Park will be in order.
On a different note, I have posted several features & reviews on our website recently. If you are a subscriber (FREE), you have already received them in our weekly email newsletter.
- Just How Good Is Overland Trout? We were driving through Sonoita in a driving rain last Saturday and stopped to check it out.
- Is The Arizona Inn The Best Hotel In Tucson? This is not our traditional dining & lodging review. Check it out and you’ll see why.
- Is Anyone Really Buried In Boothill Graveyard? After significant research, we finally debunk another Tombstone myth.
Yesterday, my family & I were treated to a tour of the newest exhibition at the Arizona State Museum on the U of A campus. “Curtis Reframed” is a retrospective of selected photographic prints by Edward Curtis taken as he traveled among the many Arizona tribes between 1900 and 1929.
Marketing Director Darlene Lizarraga arranged the tour for us. The tour itself was led by the Museum’s Curator of Photographic Collections, Jennelle Weakly. She was most helpful in answering our many questions, including those concerning the largely post-modern criticism about how the subjects were portrayed.
The story behind these exquisite photographs is most interesting, involving President Teddy Roosevelt, financier J.P. Morgan, and many others who made the original collection possible.
Some of that story is told by Guest Curator Aleta Ringlero who was interviewed last week on AZ Illustrated. I trust that you will find the video of interest, but it’s no substitute for viewing these portraits in person. Do go.
Parking is easy. I parked at the Tyndall Parking Garage 1/2 block south of University and 2 blocks from the Museum just inside Main Gate.
I highly recommend taking a Docent-Led Tour. Docents can add historical perspective that isn’t easily related on the walls of the exhibit. For example, the photograph I have used in this post of a Mojave Girl was the one that convinced J.P. Morgan to finance the project.
You will find more local history on our website: SouthernArizonaGuide.com > Main Menu > Local History.
Native American Weavers To Show Off Baskets At AZ State Museum
At the Arizona State Museum on Saturday, November 2nd will be Wonder Weavers: An Arizona Basketry Festival from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. This event is on the front lawn of the Museum and is Free.
The festival celebrates the enduring basketry traditions of our state’s Native cultures, honors modern-day weavers, and encourages the continuation of the ancient art form. It is both a show and sale.
You can meet more than a dozen Native weavers from across the state, including Akimel O’odham, Apache, Chemehuevi, Hopi, Navajo, and Tohono O’odham.
There will be music and dance performances, and lots of food vendors.
You can view more Southern Arizona arts, photography, and crafts at our Gallery/Artists section on SouthernArizonaGuide.com
As far as I know, Diana Madaras is Southern Arizona’s most recognized artist. I think her paintings are so popular because they just make people happy.
Which is why I mention here that Diana will unveil 25 new paintings at her annual “Heart Beat” show Sunday October 20th. The Artist Reception is from 1-4 PM at the Madaras Gallery in Gallery Row at Campbell & Skyline.
The beauty of our Sonoran Desert is colorfully depicted in a new triptych called “After a Good Rain.” The show will also feature an abstract desert landscape, an impressionistic painting of the desert that surrounds the hidden fairways at Starr Pass golf course, southwest architecture from Tucson and scenes from a ranch in Tubac. Plus bold and fanciful paintings of flowers in typical Madaras fashion.
Admission to the opening of Diana’s Annual Show is free but an RSVP is required- call 520-623-4000. The collection will remain on display through November 17th.
The 390th Memorial Museum, will hold a re-dedication and re-opening ceremony and gala on Saturday, September 28 at 4:00 PM. It will be the culminating event of the Tucson annual reunion weekend of the 390th veterans, their descendants and local museum members. This year marks the 70th anniversary of the activation of the 390th Bomb Group. I’m going early to photograph the exhibits and veterans for the Museum Section of our SouthernArizonaGuide.com.
The museum is dedicated to the service and sacrifice of the 390th Bomb Group (Heavy) stationed in England in World War II. Recently, it has undergone a major renovation with the addition of a mezzanine and new exhibits in 12,000 additional square feet.
The centerpiece of the museum is a restored B-17 known as the Flying Fortress which was the most recognizable symbol of the European air war in World War II. The 390th BG also participated in the humanitarian food drops over Holland in the last week of the war, known as Operation Chow Hound.
The public is invited to attend the opening ceremonies. Admission to the hangar party immediately following the re-dedication is $50 per person. The 390th Memorial Museum is located at 6000 E. Valencia, on the grounds of Pima Air and Space Museum. For more information you can call 520.574. 0287 or visit www.390th.org.
Nightfall, Arizona’s biggest Halloween attraction returns to Old Tucson for its 23rd year each Thursday thru Sunday, beginning Friday, September 27th through Thursday, October 31st. Nightfall has been rated in the top ten US Halloween attractions by Haunt World magazine for four years running. With terrifying attractions, live shows, and gruesome characters – It’s not just a Haunted House; It’s a Whole Town Gone Mad! This year:
- All New Live Shows: Nightfall features Hollywood-style spectacular stunts, pyrotechnics, and horrifying effects. Shows include dramatic post-apocalyptic themes to uproarious comedy to family-friendly magic.
- Kindred of the Dust: Nightfall’s biggest and best-yet live show features stunts and post-apocalyptic renegades who control the only water supply in the desert.
- This Prison’s Got Talent: A comedy show with incarcerated serial killer Pappy Scrap and his gang who have created a new diversion to relieve the monotony of life in the Maricopa County Prison.
- Magic of the Macabre: An amazing magic and illusion show by John Shryock and Mari Lynn.
- New Haunted attractions span colorful folk legends to medieval superstition to gruesome roaming characters.
Dia De Los Muertos: Since the time of the Aztecs it has been believed that the spirits of the dearly departed return to Earth one day a year for a happy reunion. Join them for the Day of the Dead.
- The Curse of the Blood Witch: The line between good and evil blurs when villagers turn to brutality to root out evil witches in their midst.
Sounds totally gruesome. This year I may go and experience the terror first hand.
Several species of native palms (brahea, sabal and Washingtonia) usually found in isolated oases in narrow canyons along the coast of the Sea of Cortez near Guaymas, Mexico are being placed in an accessible “walking garden” that incorporates other native plants of the canyons such as rock fig, sea grape and Nacapule jasmine, along with a “spring fed” stream that will support a population of endangered native fish.
According to Christine Conte, Executive Director of TCP, “This exhibit enhances the visitor experience through foliage-shaded paths and a new water feature complementing the streamside riparian exhibit by creating a beautiful space that lets people experience a taste of these remote areas. Very few people will ever be able to experience these oasis in the wild. It’s important to show people the incredible range our Sonoran Desert has to help preserve all of it.”
The new exhibit is included in the cost of admission and is open 8am to 5pm, seven days a week, starting in October. You can view our original Tohono Chul video at Main Menu > Attractions > Parks / Gardens.
My wife & daughters gave me an Edward Curtis for my 60th birthday. It’s a magnificent portrait of “The Worst Indian Who Every Lived” and hangs proudly in our living room. I’m not about to miss this exhibit.
The Arizona State Museum just inside Main Gate on the U of A will present Curtis Reframed: The Arizona Portfolio. The exhibit opens November 9, 2013 and continues through July 2015. Hard to imagine that any Arizonan has never seen an Edward Curtis photograph of American Indians that he created in the early years of the 20th century.
This exhibit explores Curtis’s work in Arizona from 1903 to 1928, featuring photogravures and narratives from his life’s work, The North American Indian, a 20-volume set. Lauded and decried, Curtis’s sepia-toned portraits have fascinated generations of audiences and, for better or worse, continue to influence how the world thinks of American Indians. Photogravures from the permanent collections of Arizona State Museum and examples of the copper plates from the collections of The Center for Creative Photography explore Curtis’s work with 13 Arizona tribes from 1903 to 1928. Twenty images will be exhibited and then rotated at six month intervals for a total of sixty over the life of the exhibit. Arizona-specific volumes are One (Apache, Navajo), Two (Pima (Akimel O’odham), Mojave, Papago (Tohono O’odham), Qahatika (Tohono O’odham), Yuma (Quechan), Maricopa (Pee Posh), Hualapai, Havasupai, Yavapai), and Twelve (Hopi). For more information visit www.statemuseum.arizona.edu .
Also at the Arizona State Museum on Saturday, November 2nd will be Wonder Weavers: An Arizona Basketry Festival from 11 a.m.–3 p.m. This event is on the front lawn of the Museum and is Free. The festival celebrates the enduring basketry traditions of our state’s Native cultures, honors modern-day weavers, and to encourages the continuation of the ancient art form at this show and sale. Meet more than a dozen Native weavers from across the state, including Akimel O’odham, Apache, Chemehuevi, Hopi, Navajo, and Tohono O’odham. There will be music and dance performances, and of course lots of food vendors.
Our SouthernArizonaGuide.com has very little on the Tohono O’odham (so far), but a great deal on the Apaches. Go to Main Menu > Local History > Apaches.
Speaking of Apaches, if you are a subscriber to SouthernArizonaGuide.com, you’ve already seen our recent photographs of Fort Bowie. We visited this amazing historical site the same weekend we hiked Aravaipa Canyon, which has been our most popular feature to date.
We also recently published The Train To Tombstone; and features about How Gates Pass Got Its Name. And The Day Amelia Earhart Dropped In For Dinner. Oh, and we also posed the question, Is El Rancho Merlita The Best B&B in Tucson?
Our unique Tucson Museum of Miniatures, The Mini-Time Machine, is one of our favorite local attractions. We’ve taken visiting friends and family here for the past few years and all have found it fascinating.
The first thing visitors usually notice is the state-of-the-art facility. The Mini is definitely not a dusty garage stuffed with old dollhouses. However, in our travels around Southern Arizona writing about & photographing the most interesting people & places, we have come to the conclusion that most locals have no idea what’s here. And they don’t understand why it’s called The Mini-Time Machine. True, the Mini delights school-age children with their whimsical, magical, fairy tale exhibits. But if you’re an adult history buff, this fine museum will reach out and grab your interest. Many of the miniature exhibits transport visitors to another time and place. The Mini showcases miniatures created as far back as 1742.
And then, of course, there’s the extraordinary talent that it takes to make these miniature sets: such amazing precision and attention to the most-minute detail. The exhibit creators have to be artists, craftsmen, architects, interior designers, historians, carpenters, costume designers, and engineers of incredible patience and imagination.
Each time I go, I discover new & deeper layers of detail. This was particularly true when Neighbor Roy & I recently photographed several of the models. I could see even more detail through my macro lens. Here are some of the images we created along with some historical background.
(FYI: click on any of the images to enlarge.)
Automated Public House (size: about 18″ long)
Toward the end of his life, Emil Wick created five masterpiece mechanical houses, one each for his five godchildren. Each was unique and is today an extraordinary living document of early 19th century European village life. This three-story wooden house or hotel, typical of Basel, Switzerland in the early 1800s is populated with mechanical figures animated by a key-wound and weight driven mechanism. Inside the cabinet base is a music cylinder that chimes two different tunes.
The inner workings of this house are a web of string, pulleys, wires, and cams set in motion by the descent of a carefully balanced weight. Winding a key inserted into the front of the miniature raises the weight, which also spins a music box cylinder hidden in the cabinet below.
Despite their jumbled appearance, Wick’s mechanics yield surprisingly sophisticated animation. There are over 30 different movements, some of them remarkably complex. The dancers on the upper balcony, for example, don’t just spin randomly, but pause and pirouette in step with a stately waltz. Wick modeled all his figures on people he actually knew, perhaps using his skill as a portrait photographer to capture their personalities in miniature.
Nuremberg Kitchen (size: slightly less than 1′cube)
From the seventeenth century until well into the twentieth century the most popular toy room was the kitchen. Especially popular in Germany, toy kitchens resembling the real kitchens in South Germany were known as the “Nuremberg” style. The typical Nuremberg kitchen has a central cooking area with overhead flue, rows of shelves for displaying plates and a checked pattern floor as well as poultry pen. This 18th century Nuremberg kitchen includes an early ceramic stove with unusual design that sits against the back wall with a built-in chimney. It duplicates a kitchen in an early Georg Bestelmeier Catalog. Nuremberg merchant Georg Bestelmeier listed in his 1798 catalogue over 8,000 toys and educational materials including fully furnished doll’s houses and kitchens.
Japanese Family Farmhouse (size: slightly larger than a 1’ cube)
Shoichi Uchiyami is a Japanese miniaturist committed to recapturing the buildings and countryside of Japan’s historic villages. Although they have survived through many generations, most have given way to modernity and disappeared in the last thirty years.
Created by Uchiyama in 1992, this miniature is a re-creation “of a traditional wood and thatch farmhouse, an architectural style known in Japan as minka. This particular type of farmhouse could be found in an area 200 miles north of Tokyo, where very large farms were common; typically accommodating multiple generations of one family under one roof— and the roofs of these houses are remarkable. The thatched roof, called kusabuki in Japanese, is primarily constructed of tightly packed reeds, or ashi. These traditional thatched roofs were capable of keeping rain and snow at bay, as well as regulating the temperature inside the home year-round. The roof also provided a natural air-filtration process. In his article “Saving Traditional Japanese Farmhouses, or In Praise of Thatched Roofs,” Harris Salat writes that “in these traditional farmhouses, cooking was originally done in an irori, a charcoal-fired hearth. The roof absorbed the gases from these fires like a giant sponge, filtering them to the outside and keeping the air in the house clean.”
Lillian Watchtel, is an editor for Miniature Collector. The above quote is from her article “The Nostalgic World of Shoichi Uchiyama.”
To view our brief video of The Mini-Time Machine, go to SouthernArizonaGuide.com > Home > Our Videos.
We are big fans of the Tucson Museum of Art and have seen just about every new TMA exhibit since moving here a decade ago. For that reason, we took notice when a recent email newsletter announced that the Art Museum will open its new Palice Gallery of Latin American Art Sunday May 5th from noon to 5 PM. Admission: FREE!
What used to be admin offices on the 2nd floor will now house TMA’s collection of Pre-Columbian art, Spanish Colonial & Post Colonial art, and Latin American folk art.
The collection will offer enhanced, bilingual didactic materials. Ms. Karen has a degree in Art History, so she’s more familiar with art objects like these. But I particularly appreciate the interpretive material that TMA coordinates with each piece so I can better understand the cultural significance and historical periods from which they were created. Moreover, when we visit a new TMA exhibit, we usually take advantage of the Musuem’s free tours guided by their knowledgeable docents. That way we get a great deal more out of each exhibit than we otherwise would.
Here are 3 examples.
El Tajin Style Stela Fragment, from Orizaba Region of Veracruz, Mexico, Late Formative/Early Classic Era, 100 BCE-250 CE, Serpentine.
This thin Stela with low relief carving depicts a male figure in profile, holding a tasseled object, probably a spear or standard. The border beneath the figure includes a snub-nosed mask, and curvilinear step-fret designs. This motif most likely represents a ruler performing a ritual activity.
The style of the Stela is transitional from the aesthetic of Olmec iconography to the later Maya iconography that dominated the region. This artwork is characteristic of the aesthetic that characterizes El Tajin monuments. Similar low relief carvings depicting rulers and incorporating the diagnostic curvilinear step fret design are found in sites such as Cholula, Puebla, a testament to the extent of socio cultural power exerted by elites in the Gulf region during this time period.
From the Spanish Colonial/Post-Colonial Collection.
Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, ca.17th century, wood, paint, gilding, copper, and lace.
This statue depicts the Virgin of the Immaculate Conception, as indicated by the crescent moon upon which the Virgin is standing. Recently restored by a professional conservator, with funding provided by a special grant from Institute of Museums and Library Services, the sculpture is a highlight of TMA’s Spanish Colonial/Post-Colonial collection. Most likely of 17th century origin, it has clearly been painted multiple times. The intention of the over painting seems to have been to change the message conveyed by the statue. Overtime, the elaborate gilt design on the Virgin’s robes was covered with simple blue paint, the complexion of the figure was changed, and, in general, the statue was made to appear less elaborate.
The Virgin of the Immaculate Conception statue provides an interesting insight into how the Catholic Church modified its iconographic message to be more palatable to Mestizo peoples in the New World by depicting the Virgin Mary less as a regal queen and more as a common woman.
From the Latin American Folk Art Collection.
Tree of Life, Aurelio Flores, 1960, ceramic.
This tree of life is a great example of the work in the Latin American Folk Art collection. This elaborate candelabrum, produced in Puebla, was created by Aurelio Flores, a well-known folk artist. The lively tree is bursting with polychrome birds and flowers in a style that is characteristic of the Flores family. This tree of life depicts the vibrancy of Mexican Folk Art and the degree to which individual creativity, tradition, and regional specialization in folk art production are comingled in the production of these vibrant objects.
Southern Arizona has many fine museums. You can find our favorites at SouthernArizonaGuide.com > Main Menu > Museums.
For 2013 there are ten garden railways, two of which are new on the tour, as well as annual favorites, many of which have been expanded or have added features or scenes since last year. This year’s layouts are located primarily on the west side of Tucson and you can visit all venues as often as you wish.
Yesterday, I visited one of the venues at the home of John Carmicheal. John has been a sculptor of sun dials for over 20 years, but he is new to garden railroads. In his front yard is a labyrinth of rails, bridges, tunnels, depots and other features among a variety of cacti, primarily cholla and prickly pear. Laid end to end, John’s railroad is longer than a football field. His trains are “G” gauge, which is much larger than the more familiar “HO” scale. John explained that the model trains have to be larger for outdoor operations so that small objects, such as a leaf or pebble, won’t derail them.
One has to be a serious railroad hobbyist to develop and operate one of these garden railways. I could not help asking John what I would have to budget to replicate something like his layout in my own gardens. He explained that the layout I was watching took him 14 months of near-full-time effort, including design time. He also told me that I should budget at least $10,000. WOW! Given the precision & complexity of this garden railway, I was surprised that it wasn’t more.
The Tucson Garden Railway Society will again be collecting donations (cash or check only) for the Community Food Bank. Also, they will raffle off a railroad-themed quilt, the proceeds of which will go to Ronald McDonald House.
Funds raised by tour ticket sales help fund the Society’s projects at the Tucson Children’s Museum, Tucson Botanical Garden, the Diamond Children’s Center, Tucson Medical Center, Veteran’s Administration and modular displays at various locations throughout the year.
Tickets cost $5.00 per adult and there is no charge for children/teens 18 and under when accompanied by a ticket holding adult. Tickets are good for both tour days and all venues. Each ticket includes entry into a drawing for a complete “starter” train set. Click HERE for local businesses where you can purchase tickets. Click HERE for a map of each garden railway on the tour.
For more information, click HERE.
Yesterday, I witnessed my first La Fiesta De Los Vaqueros, AKA the Tucson Rodeo. This was the first day of a 12 day event that concludes next Sunday, February 24th. There was plenty of action, which you can see by the photographs I took from the grandstands. This event is very well organized. There was almost no delay between events, which include: bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, calf roping, team roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing, and bull riding.
The announcer obviously knows rodeo, from the contestants to the sometimes complex and seemingly archaic rules. The wranglers were great, as were the clowns, and the audience was definitely engaged. And the contestants? Awesome. These folks are rugged cowboys & cowgirls, and terrific role models for our school-age children. If you’re looking for something to do with the young ones, take them to the rodeo. Lots of food and drink here, and plenty of merchandise to purchase at dozens of booths surrounding the grandstands.
Parking was $5 and the cheapest admission is $12. Some 700 contestants will compete for serious prize money this year. Proceeds from the rodeo go to the University of Arizona Scholarship Fund and other worthy charities.
Here are a few photos I took. You can see more at SouthernArizonaGuide.com.
The Tucson Rodeo began way back in the 1920′s during that era of high morals known as Prohibition: if it was fun, it was prohibited. Don’t miss the Rodeo Parade Museum on the rodeo grounds. And don’t miss the Parade this coming Thursday. Gabby & Mark are Grand Marshalls.
On a clear Sunday morning in early February, Neighbor Roy, Ms. Karen, & I arrived at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum for our 2nd Behind The Scenes tour, this time of the new Warden Aquarium. Lacey was our guide for our group of 8, including two little boys who looked to be about 4 and 6 years of age. Lacey, a young woman who clearly loves her job, told us that she is an aquarist. An “aquarist” is a curator for aquariums, similar to a zookeeper, but for animals that breath water.
The Aquarium has about a dozen fish tanks. Some are salt water representing the Sea of Cortez, an integral part of our Sonoran Desert south of the border. The other tanks have fresh water representing our now almost completely lost above-ground fresh water. Because human population has caused the loss of over 90% of Southern Arizona’s free-flowing rivers and streams, it’s not hard to understand that most of the creatures in the fresh water tanks are endangered. Many in the Sea of Cortez are also struggling to survive.
The Yaqui is a river in Sonora Mexico and was the home of our Southern Arizona Yaqui Indians before they were driven out by the Mexican army in the late 1800′s. That river has been badly degraded by farmers. The Yaqui topminnows, Mexican stonerollers, beautiful shiners, and Yaqui chubs are all found in the San Bernardino Wildlife Refuge not far from Douglas, AZ. Many of these fish have been threatened by habitat loss, wildfires, and invasive species. The Desert Museum partners with Fish & Game to care for fish that were “rescued” from a wildfire so they can be return to the wild and repopulate their native waters.
Yaqui Catfish are also found in the Rio Yaqui. It is the only catfish native to Arizona and their numbers have been reduced by the non-native catfish via hybridization and competition. While still found south of the border, most on the Arizona side have been extirpated and re-introduced in hopes of reviving their population. The one in the tank we saw was about 18 inches long.
Apache trout are one of only two native trout species and is our Official Arizona State Fish. They were one of the first species listed under the Endangered Species Act in 1969. Despite efforts, they are still threatened by mismanagement of land, competition and interbreeding with non-native trout that are stocked in their streams.
Pikeminnows are the largest minnow in America, historically growing to 6 feet long and weighing 100 pounds. At that size, one might wonder how they maintain their “minnow-ness”.
The razorback suckers can live more than 40 years and have a keel-like dorsal fin that allows them to stay along the bottom of fast flowing rivers. Both of these species have been greatly affected by dams built along their native rivers and by introduced non-native fishes.
The bony-tail and round tail chubs prefer flowing pools, rivers and lakes but their habitat is now divided by dams. A population of bony tail in Lake Mojave are 40 years old but aren’t reproducing. Once abundant, their numbers are dwindling and they are also listed as endangered.
Cabo Pulmo Reef
The Cabo Pulmo reef tank is a representation of the area off the tip of the Baja California peninsula. People in that community have worked together to conserve this area as a National Marine Park since 1995. Even though the laws are difficult to enforce, the community has continued educating others and their hard work is paying off. The diversity of wildlife is returning.
Sea of Cortez
The Sea of Cortez is famous for its diversity of species, including a highly endangered porpoise, the vaquita (model of a mother and calf hanging above the Cabo reef tank). There are only a couple hundred of theses shy porpoises left and most are only seen dead in fishermen’s nets. The main threats to this area include overfishing, pollution from runoff, and trash such as plastics. Many commercial fishing practices are unregulated, and unsustainable. The trash poses many threats to the wildlife who may die from entanglement, ingestion, or even toxic exposure as these compound take many years to degrade but never fully disappear.
One of the many benefits of this Behind The Scenes tour is you get to handle the creatures in the “touch tank”. If you have young children, this is a “must do”. They will be fascinated. You have to wash your hands before putting them in this tank. But once your hands are clean, you can pick up the arrow crab (or spider crab), dwarf red-tip hermit crab, chestnut cowrie, turbo snail, sand star, serpent star (or Brittle Star), sea cucumber, and sea hare ( brown sea slug with “bunny ears”).
The price for each of the Desert Museum’s Behind The Scenes tours is $35. But readers of our SouthernArizonaGuide.com can get a $5 discount by clicking on the Desert Museum’s advertisement in the Guide. Here too you can get a more detailed description of each of the BTS tours. These are private tours with the Museum’s professionals. Each offers a very rich, in-depth experience. If you’re looking for an amazing experience for your school-age children, these tours are highly recommended. Last November, we took the Walk On The Wild Side tour and it was great. Ms. Karen wants to do the Winged Wonders (hummingbird) tour next.