Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Time for Tucson International Treasure Hunt -- Gem Shows, Fossils, Meteors & Beads

Find all sparkle and shine you need, whether a first-time gemmer, a writer of rocks, or veteran rock hound. Tucson hosts the largest show-museum-market in the world. You can search this collective list for special activities by show name or date, from January 31 through February 17.
The Kino Gem and Mineral show at the Kino Sports Complex is always huge and interesting. Smaller but still a favorite is the 22nd Street Mineral Fossil and Gem Show, with free parking and 180+vendors exhibiting an exceptional collection of minerals, fossils, crystals, jewelry and miner’s rough. Food trucks are there to sustain you. Those interested in unusual fossils and minerals also will enjoy The Mineral & Fossil Marketplace at the  Hotel Tucson City Center.

There are hundreds of exhibits and dealers For beaders: To Bead True Blue begins February 3 at the Doubletree Reid Park and has hundreds of exhibitors as well as workshops in art couture, artistic glass, textile and embellishment.

A favorite each year is the African Art Village on Farmington Road off I-10 and Starr Pass Blvd., with its hundreds of vendors displaying and selling ancient and modern art as well as masks, beads and textiles

The Tucson Gem & Mineral Society is the institution that started it all in 1955 with a small show of hobbyists and dealers. It still runs the primo event, The Tucson Gem & Mineral Show™.  Florite is the theme this year. Held over the final weekend, February 14 - 17, at the Convention Center. There are displays from museums around the world including hundreds of dealers. This main showcase also features exhibits and tours for school children (sorry, full up already!) and lectures that are open to the public.

Actually my interest in this massive and unparalleled international marketplace of
cultures, minerals, gemstones, jewelry, lapidary and fossils is very focused on the show’s most tiny objects: historic trade beads (as seen in my photo). Bead historian Steve Ellis is a master who can help any collector with his knowledge (and his stash of incredible beads). I only have an email address for him, but if you need it, please message me.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Tucson Seen, Random Urban Art Journal

Not quite true, but still an important message.
Tucson transport-turned-art

Plein Air, retro image
More Tucson writing and images about community engagement here.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tucson, A Night of Remembrance

Tonight in Tucson -- It is a Fall ritual of remembrance, celebration, honoring loved ones and expressing grief. Particularly in light of the terrible chaos and death wrought by Hurricane Sandy...and because of the terrible division we see in this country wrought by extremist politics - tonight's procession carries great meaning. Pix on left is from two years ago, when the Procession was on Congress Street. More about the Procession on my Tucson Cowgirl blog here.

I've contributed dollars as I can to help continue the tradition, and to help the non-profit responsible. The Red Cross needs our dollars, too, tonight, as does non-partisan believers like Gabby Giffords/Captain Mark Kelly's PAC.

Festal Factoids

  • Who: All Souls Procession was conceived by Tucson artist and teacher Susan Kay Johnson.

  • Why: Johnson studied Jung and knew that community rituals, including All Souls and Dia de los Muertos, were used by many cultures to acknowledge grief. When her father died in 1990, Johnson told friends she wanted to create a remembrance piece in his honor.
  • What: After passers-by saw Johnson’s spontaneous procession and wanted to participate, what was personal performance art in a downtown studio grew in the All Souls Procession (ASP). By 2006 the ASP was so large (12,000+) that the non-profit entity Many Mouths One Stomach (MMOS) was created as the organizing body for all Procession-related activities.
  • How: In its 22nd year, ASP is now an immense spiritual and campy Tucson ritual. The MMOS board stewards the evolving, qualitative experience of the ASP weekend and all its programs. Artistic Director Nadia Hagen and a collective of co-directors, artists and community volunteers called buckstoppers are responsible for producing all aspects of the ASP and events. For specific information about the Procession, All Souls elements and how you can get involved, check the website: http://www.allsoulsprocession.org/.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Impossible to Imagine

A world be without music? An important question, as all the arts fight for affirmation and support in our school and our family budgets.  Kudos, The Fender Music Foundation, for raising the question and for your support of music education.

This mother's response: A world without music is impossible to imagine. It would have meant missing the joy of watching my son embrace music in his life, build confidence, creativity, friendships and talent, and grow from this (circa late 1990s)...
 ...to this (far right).

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Writing Family Stories, My Process in Folklore Research

I love this collection of handwork by my grandmother. Domenica Giuffre was a master of threads -- she worked magic with embroidery, crochet, beading and the fine techniques of sewing.

There's a history behind her skills. Her techniques are based in the exquisite traditional arts of Sicilian drawn threadwork and Italian lace crochet. As I learn more about my family history, I am humbled by how important heritage is to quality of life and to our sense of community.

I am lucky to have a few precious pieces of my grandmother's work and a few photos. Although I wish I had more material items to hold and display, I'm grateful for what I have. Legacy is in our hearts, yes?

I recently completed a class on folklore study and research. I hope to write more about my grandparents, my Italian heritage and the traditional arts my grandparents practiced. I'll post more in the months ahead about my Italy trip and my family arts, but, for now, please read about my Tucson field school experience in folklore writing.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Writing on Community Health, 2004 and Now

I'm reviewing old papers (yes, the physical kind, not digital) and still don't have the mindset to toss out the files that documented so many important aspects of this writer's career. The brittle papers and their writings demonstrate how collectively with other concerned citizens I had worked to build improved communities. This quest is still a focus in my life: Creating and documenting antidotes to negative influences on quality of life. That means back then I worked on stuff like anti-litter, anti-graffiti, unkempt highways, vacant lots, pollution to our land and waterways. I focused on what was important to neighborhoods, like preserving traditions, open spaces, cultural celebrations and family table talk.

Back then, and still today, I believe we all are  positive community change agents whose prescriptions of community engagement help neighborhoods improve their health. 

There are forces like power silos, population growth, urban sprawl, pollution, strain on natural resources and
politics that still erode quality of life. Today I can be frustrated when cities like Tucson grasp at funding and use
it on projects that instead of preserving and encouraging smart growth, only hurt our fragile ecosystem –
negatively impacting our water and open spaces. 

I won't tell you anything new: Only if we are engaged together in finding collective solutions to our challenges
will things work. "I'm right; you're wrong" just doesn't work. Maybe this is Pollyanna speaking...but I still believe there's a way to come together to create solutions.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Tucson Tradition Bearers - Ebru & Hat

Indigenous traditions, like folk art, are diverse and joyful here in Tucson. Today I visited a Kermes (Turkish bazaar) and enjoyed viewing so many wonderful folk arts, including the demonstrations of the marbled art form of Ebru and the Turkish calligraphy technique called hat. Please read my brief post about today's walk into the cultural traditions of Turkey.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Writing and Culture, Tucson and Italy

Author Ana Castillo creates cultural magic with her words. I'm a fan of words that weave stories of heritage and family, and I look forward to her visit to Tucson on Friday, May 4, at the John Valenzuela Youth Center 1550 South 6th Avenue, South Tucson, 6:30 PM.

Family history is important to me now. Like so many immigrants in the early 1900s, my grandparents came to the United States to seek new opportunities after devastating Reggio Calabria Italy earthquakes. They cared about family but they wanted their children to look ahead. No Italian was spoken to me; no stories about lineage were passed along. I'm working now to revive the links to my heritage.

I wrote more about this, and about author Castillo's upcoming talk in my blog here. I hope her reading focuses on unifying, universal cultural messages. I would have wanted that for myself in my childhood education, and I want it for Mexican-American students who seek knowledge about their own family roots.

The photo is from the 2012 International Mariachi Conference, a Tucson tradition held again just this past week. Viva heritage of all kinds!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Tucson thrift store find stirs a sewing secret

1958-1965: I was a sewer, a lover of fabrics and beads, a seamstress educated at the elbow of my mom. Mary Surfaro was truly an artisan of wondrous clothes and crafts. My eyes always followed her hands as she cut. It was a joy to watch her piece and bring fabric to life. I loved the craft and worked hard at mimicking her artistry. No matter that it was a necessity for us to make our own clothes in those days. For me, sewing was super cool.

When I hit college I grew impatient with myself and my sewing. There was no way that I could be the disciplined sewer that my mom was. My stitches did not follow her impeccable lines. Discouraged, I let my love and talent for sewing slip away.

Fast forward half a century. Here I am, nearly as old as the oldest mom of my memory. I love her and miss her as passionately as ever. In this period of my life, it would be a joy to sew with her.

I realize now that although I can't carry on my mom's meticulous seamstress skills, I can carry on her joy of the craft. I relish my fabric stashes and my sewing tools, as she did. As I sit to sew, the movement of fabric and the sewing machine hum envelope me in a strange peace. An hour will fly by and even the most crudely shaped purse or textile art gives me such satisfaction and energy.

If only bend the rules sewing had been a choice for me years ago! No matter. I have re-embraced my sewing passion and re-invented a path for myself in the craft. More photos of vintage sewing stuff on my Tucson Cowgirl blog.

Photo caption and comment: Staring at me, on a sundries table of a Tucson thrift store, were several of these perfectly packaged sewing and needle kits, circa 1950s Japan. I also scored some beautiful glass beads from "West" Germany, and needle kits from England. Posting some pix for the retro-loving designers among us. 

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Tucson then, from a 1950s kind of gal

I took a peek back to the 1950s, Tucson-style. Quite appropriate for me to do -- I'm a 50s kind of gal.

Take a look at me back then (with my grandma, Domenica Surfaro, circa 1950, in Brooklyn, New York). 

And see Tucson, back then, too, via my eyes today. Here's my retrospective as published in the February 2012 Zocalo.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Art in Tucson Boneyard, Late Night at Pima Air & Space

Art brings us together. No longer just wall deco for admiration, art helps us interact.

So it was at the Pima Air and Space last night, when Eric Firestone brought the hangars alive with art, cultural messages...and stylish music, visitors and conversation. Scenes from out and about. 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Tucson Road Trips - Pause! Listen! Look Here!

Too often in these days of relentless information we pass by the "now" in our attempt to rush and stay ahead of it all. It's rare to pause, listen and look around before scurrying. But it's needed, more than the Facebook updates or buzzing that overwhelm our lives.

For me there were several treks taken around Arizona that help me slow down, enrich and clarify. From a pause at the Grand Canyon, to a glimpse out the window of an historic railway, a visit to a sustainable farm in Patagonia, a climb to an arch along Navajo highway or a drive to a sacred mountains -- nature and history all come before me in these trips and said, "Stop! Look! Listen!"

Five examples of quiet yet powerful journeys:
  1. A visit to the imposing mountain Baboquivari... where a rambling dirt road taken past the lovely Himdag Ki museum leads to what the O'odham people call the stony ground. I didn't climb to the top of this mystical spire but I hope to in 2012. The quietness, interrupted only by birds and rustling lizards, is magic for the soul.
  2. Colossal Cave: In once great ranch land where cattle still roam, there is a beautiful outpost that hides a treasure of a cave. In monsoon season the tourists are scarce, and lazy horses or burros slap tails against the flies. The wind rustle through dried grasses. It's all like a summer desert song that reawakens creativity.
  3. Coronado Trail Highway 191: We zig zagged the car past the mines and funky towns of Clifton and Morenci, and drove up through the glorious Coronado Trail just a week before the horrific fires in 2011. We were surrounded by green blankets of forest and moss, saw packs of bighorn sheep and couples of elk. The quiet majesty of this area was breathtaking. Still is, its power to nurture the spirit undiminished by the late spring firestorm. 
  4. Navajo and Hopi Land: Past Flagstaff off Highway 89, following route 160, there are offshoot roads that take you to the land of Dine and Hopi. Here you find wide open spaces cut by redstone arches,  expansive colorful canyons, monuments, petryglyphs and strangely-formed monoliths that spiral to the sky.  It is a universe of nature, beauty, history and stillness like no other in Arizona.
  5. Salt River to Petrified Forest: Above Globe, Highway 60 takes you through high desert and a scenic bridge that leads through a canyon full of Apache history. Passing this, then through White Mountain vacationer towns like Show Low and Snowflake, you find more unique Arizona beauty along the Colorado Plateau in a forest of a different kind. The wind rips in the Petrified Forest, where temps get to zero in wintertime. But it is strange land of fossils, petrified woods and strange formations, carried here and molded millions of years ago.
Each trip brings amazement at natural wonders, new respect for ancient ways....and a cleansing of the spirit as technology slips away and the here-and-now speaks loudly.

In 2012, take the time to break away. Speak to yourself, not your Facebook page. Did you enjoy this moment? See -- It is gone already!

Resource: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/01/opinion/sunday/the-joy-of-quiet.html?_r=1&ref=opinion

    Tuesday, December 13, 2011

    Best Friend, a Forever Salute

    I lost a good friend this year. Our last communication was in March. We talked then about education, about my son, about writing and about another gathering, hopefully before the end of 2011. 

    Our friendship spanned three decades. At first we were just coworkers - so different in style and personality yet clicking in true ways. When work relationship grew to friendship, we became sharers of dreams. And we had so many good discussions about writing. So many laughs, too -- It was a joyful friendship.

    After our professional lives traveled in different directions, the friendship, though long-distance, remained on track. We were partners on different levels that included a bonding of our souls. So no matter how infrequent the phone calls, the emails or the visits - once these occurred there was no lost momentum in what we shared. I am forever grateful for her introducing my son to the authentic and wild open spaces of the west and to ranching experiences.

    I'll never forget the hilarious encounters of her trying to teach me how to feed horses and goats -- and I'm sure she didn't forget these times either. There was an evening or two of her helping me reawaken a love of knitting. She gave me lessons in perseverance, remaining professionally alert, reaching for new horizons.

    Karen Clymer - United Parcel Service editor, animal lover, dog trainer, American Herding association judge with national credentials, spinner, college instructor and friend - died April 2, 2011. I am heartbroken without my dear friend
    . She was my inspiration and the real cowgirl. Most important of all, Karen was a good, generous, spiritual, loving, enthusiastic, business-savvy, creative individual. Selfishly I feel the loss so deeply, but I turn to all the strong and happy memories for some comfort.

    Karen, what a crazy but joyful place was your Solarwind Ranch!!!! I thank all of Karen's good friends in Chino Valley and Prescott for taking care of Karen's animal family - her dogs, her horse, her sheep-goats-ducks. My prayers to Karen's brothers, family and foster children who remain.

    I wrote in 2008:
    While I was still a New Yorker, Karen gave me my first taste of pioneering life. I loved the times I could visit her ranch, where I was awed by endless wild Arizona spaces and mountains, and where I first learned to haul hay to the horses and Karen’s “ark” assortment of ducks, goats, sheep and border collies. Karen may not call herself a cowgirl (she’s a county fair supervisor, border collie rescue and breeder, herding and obedience trial judge, friend and loving foster mother rolled into one). But, to me, Karen personifies the independence and strength of extraordinary women called cowgirls. They were the foundation of the families who helped settle the American Southwest. I tip my hat to my cowgirl friend Karen
    (shown in photo with Silver, in a pix taken by Leigh Spigelman)

    Be at peace, good friend. I wish I could write as well as you have. May I celebrate community, humanity and love of animals as purely as you did. May I pursue my life with your passion and authenticity. Walk with me still. You are in my heart always.
    Karen Marie Clymer
    October 19, 1948 - April 2, 2011

    Saturday, December 10, 2011

    Tucson Localism and Holiday Indie Gifts

    from Zocalo Tucson magazine
    You know I'm a fan of a strong movement to do things locally. It's my way of contributing to our sustainability and our humanity -- and to support community sense of place.

    So I'm proud of my feature appearing in the current edition of Zocalo, Tucson's urban lifestyle-culture-music magazine. Please take a read and support Tucson (and all!) local independent businesses: Hotspots for Indie Holiday Gifting. 


    Saturday, November 26, 2011

    Tucson Local: Saluting Small Business

    Celebrating Small Business Saturday: Honoring the many businesses, organizations and people who creatively transform our downtowns and centers of economy into more vibrant, sustainable cities, giving them a stamp of localism and defining our sense of place-making.

    Source: http://www.tucsoncowgirl.com/around-tucsons-table-of-tradition-grateful-for-small-and-local/  

    Saturday, October 29, 2011

    Tucson Living Traditions and Cultures

    More and more, American folk life festivals have become a way to share traditional expressive cultures across the United States. Since 1974 a festival called Tucson Meet Yourself has been a way to celebrate a wide range of creative familial and ethnic customs that are expressed thru art, dance storytelling, music, games, handicraft and food. This free community event takes place in our downtown during the second weekend of October. Many smaller communities that make up our diverse city participate by demonstrating the beauty of their culture which has been passed down through the generations.  Each year I so enjoy watching the folk traditions as practiced by small groups that share a common identity through their ethnic or religious background. Traditional storytelling, arts and crafts, costumes and recipes are a way to share folk culture, bind together neighborhoods and give individuals a sense of community.

    In this weekend of celebration I can eat a handmade tamale, watch a master artisan craft some leatherwork, listen to a Tohono O’dham story and enjoy a folk dance all in one afternoon. This celebration of unique ritual help me feel part of varied traditions.  This is one memorable festival that communicates the sounds, arts, smells, visuals and experiences of community identity and cultural practice. I can share the diverse ways of life of various cultures in this Southwest town, and this makes me feel at home.

    I have always placed high value on preserving group traditions and the way of life they represent for the following generations. Particularly in Arizona, where it has become critical for various cultures to live together and understand each other, tradition as a symbol remains important to successful, positive communities.
    Note and Disclosure: This year I coordinated four Folk Arts areas in this important celebration of living tradition, a consulting assignment of great joy and value to me.

    Friday, June 24, 2011

    El Dia de San Juan, Praying for Monsoons in Tucson

    It began in legend, and it is a fiesta of much culture, gaiety and mariachis. I love to watch the charreada (Mexican rodeo) and the beautiful escaramuzas who perform on horseback. My post and another pix appears on my Tucson Cowgirl website.

    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    Tucson Tales: Wildfire, Symbolism, Culture

    I do most of my writing in the Corral at Tucson Cowgirl but wanted to post links to two thoughts I ponder: