Arts and Culture

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Tucson Fashion Week: Answering the Community Craving for Fashion

Posted By on Sat, Oct 15, 2016 at 7:05 PM

Models walk the catwalk at Friday night's Tucson Fashion Week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson. - DANYELLE KHMARA
  • Danyelle Khmara
  • Models walk the catwalk at Friday night's Tucson Fashion Week at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson.

I feel something akin to culture shock when I walk into Tucson Fashion Week on Friday night. The showroom and patio at the Museum of Contemporary Art are full of bodacious babes with mega hair and clothes that are too cool—even for Buffalo Exchange.

The three-day event, which began Thursday, Oct. 13, featured different venues, designers, music performances, food and drink each night.  Maybe it’s from living too long in this laid-back desert town, but I’m out of place. The only thing I have that I can relate this scene to is Sex and the City. (Yes, I’m a child of the ‘90s.) So I just imagine I’m Carrie and dive in. Although the lights, the music, the heels and the clothes that seem to defy gravity are unlike an average Friday night downtown, the fashion week’s roots are all Tucson.

“Hopefully we can spread the love a little bit and bring a little awareness around fashion to our community,” says TFW co-director Paula Taylor, who’s worked in fashion for 20 years. “We have this incredible community with so much talent here, and nobody gets to showcase it.”

Taylor and her cohort Melanie Sutton curated the show with local and national talent.
“We’re actually a really international city, and I think we’re starving for content,” Taylor says. “If we provide the platform people will actually come.”

Four years ago, TFW founder Elizabeth Denneau was running the show as a small artsy production. Taylor and Sutton bought it and turned it into the national production it is today.

One of Friday’s presentations features the designs of Tucson-born Quinlan Wilhite. Founder of the fashion company Qmulative, Wilhite began sewing only three years ago when he had an idea for a shirt and asked his grandmother to show him how to sew.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Race Relations: What Horror Films Are Made Of (This One At Least)

Posted By on Fri, Oct 7, 2016 at 9:00 AM

Folks, something amazing is happening in February. 

No, Saint Valentine is not swooping down from the heavens to help you find your one, true love. 

No, Tucson is not bringing Mardi Gras to Fourth Ave (so please don't let me find you running up and down the street topless, throwing beads everywhere).

And no, the Cardinals are not winning the Superbowl. I'm calling it now—you read it here first. 

What IS happening is a horror film is being released that actually has a legitimate storyline, and...wait for it...THE BLACK GUY DOESN'T DIE FIRST! I don't know which I'm more excited for because the toss-up here is strong. Now, for the guy (or girl) who just read that last part and immediately opened up another search window and typed in the words "horror movies in which the black guy doesn't die first," let me inform you NOW that this article is tongue in cheek, and should be taken with a grain of salt. I am well aware that the Black guy doesn't always die first (and I did the Google search for you—here's an article that backs that up), but that is the long running joke within the Black community, so humor me if you will and read this through. 

Okay, so now that that is cleared up, back to my original point. YES! IT'S TRUE! In February, Jordan Peele (of Comedy Central's "Key and Peele") will be making his directorial debut with his first horror film, called Get Out. Now, I said the Black guy doesn't die first, but that's not entirely true. A Black guy does die first, but not the main character. You're confused. I know. I was too when I first heard about it, but here's the twist: Get Out is a racially charged horror flick (the first of its kind, actually). You're probably wondering what that means—I WAS TOO! Basically, it means that the old lore of White girl brings Black boy home from college to meet the folks, and the folks are cool on the surface, but maybe not *so* cool that they're above letting the Black boy know where he stands, is brought to life, but with a strange, horrific, terrifying twist. 

People, I don't even like horror films, but I will see this one. Not because Jordan Peele wrote, produced, and directed it (Go 'head on with ya bad self), and not because it's considered "racially charged." Not even because the main Black guy doesn't die first. I'm seeing this one because it will finally be a scary movie I can watch without having to holler out "Becky! Don't go up those stairs, girl!"

Yup. I just said that. 

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Thursday, October 6, 2016

Watch This Doc On Badass Trailblazing Architect Judith Chafee

Posted By on Thu, Oct 6, 2016 at 7:00 PM

Anyone who gives a damn about the look and feel of Tucson, and in ways how some of its loveliness has been redeemed and shaped and conserved, should view this 24-minute piece called The Architect on Tucsonan Judith Chafee. You'll note that the much-revered and controversial Chafee was a trailblazer "who smoked, drank and cursed and built homes." For example, she was the first woman from Arizona, in what was then basically a white male profession, named a fellow in the American Institute of Architects. She created major award-winning homes, her Ramada house is on the national record of historic places, and her storied Tucson Mountain Blackwell House was mired in controversy for years and sadly razed. Chafee, who died 18 years ago at 65, was, not surprisingly, less well known in her Tucson hometown than she was nationally (hell, the New York Times just featured one of her homes). But she'll be forever remembered in modernist architecture circles for her fabulously executed designs that incorporated in thoroughly original ways desert surroundings and light. Though, incredibly, she was held back from doing major projects (watch the doc) in Tucson and most often she was commissioned to do private homes. More, her reasons for returning to Tucson to work will resonate with some viewers (watch the doc). Certainly did with this one.

To be sure, Chafee’s eye-popping story here is a national one and it’s lovingly told with verve, truth and dramatic flair, and beautifully shot too, by rising Arizona producer and director Andrew Brown for Arizona Public Media. Brown's work is always worth seeking out.

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Friday, September 23, 2016

ART's 'Epic' Fail

Posted By on Fri, Sep 23, 2016 at 12:35 PM

Extra turned director, Phil (Matthew Osvog) goes a bit too far in this scene with Carl (Thomas Tyler West), the Queen (Shira Maas), Benny (Zachary Zupke) and Louise (Tyler Reaser) from the comedy Epic Proportions, presented by Arizona Repertory Theatre at the UA. - ED FLORES
  • Ed Flores
  • Extra turned director, Phil (Matthew Osvog) goes a bit too far in this scene with Carl (Thomas Tyler West), the Queen (Shira Maas), Benny (Zachary Zupke) and Louise (Tyler Reaser) from the comedy Epic Proportions, presented by Arizona Repertory Theatre at the UA.

I suppose it has to be done for the students. Arizona Repertory Theatre is a part of the theater program at the UA, and although there are many factors guiding the choice of plays for a given season, one of the foremost would logically be to give students a range of plays that would demand varied skills. That would result in the young thespians being exposed to lots of different types of plays, presenting challenges not only for the actors, but the designers as well.

I really can’t think of another reason that those who make these sorts of decisions would bring us Epic Proportions, a play so unarguably bad that this must be the lesson where you learn how to work with really bad material. Director Brent Gibbs oversees the action here, and in his ever capable hands the cast and crew have worked hard to make us smile at all the silliness.

I wasn’t familiar with this play by Larry Coen and David Crane, and since ART usually brings us really fine productions, I was eager to experience this one.

But what was revealed in a big, bold way was a farce/melodrama sort of thing that’s mostly just a string of jokes and sight gags. The premise of the story seems fodder appropriate for such a treatment. There is a large film crew in the middle of the desert (near Tucson) working on a big-time film—think Ben-Hur and The Ten Commandments sort of thing—by big-time director D. W DeWitt—think Cecil B. DeMille. I really don’t know the exact plot of the fictional film, called Exeunt Omnes; I’m not sure we were really given that information because it’s not that important. No, the story that’s ours involves an film extra, Benny (Zachary Zupke), a young man hoping to be “discovered,” his brother Phil (Matthew Osvog) who comes to try to get him to come back home but who is himself sucked into the world of making big Hollywood films in the desert himself, and the brothers vying for the love of Louise (Tyler Reaser), who’s in charge of the extras, which number about 3400. It’s your typical epic melodrama sort of story, with chases and sword fights and mistaken identities and burning bushes that get out of hand and such, but it’s far from epic.

The students give it great effort. The thing is, this sort of stuff is really very hard to do well. Everything must be crisp, the timing perfect, actors fully committed to their personas. And this cast was invested. Sometimes their efforts made you forget that the material doesn’t deserve their investment. But they did well what they were called on to do. I'm sure there have been many
lessons learned.

The opening night audience, which was stuffed with students, seemed to enjoy
themselves immensely. And really, if this is the kind of silliness that might
entice some of them back to see the better stuff, I’m all for it.

Epic Proportions
Presented by Arizona Repertory Theatre
Various times Thursdays through Sundays through Oct. 9
Marroney Theatre on the University campus
Near Park and Speedway
Running time: 90 minutes with no intermission

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Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Romeo and Juliet Take Tucson

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 2:31 PM

"To be or not to be, that is the question." Or is the question to go or not to go? Well no matter the question the answer is most definitely Tucson's 10th Annual Shakespeare in the Park event. Now, everyone has heard of the reputable Shakespeare in the Park that happens in New York City. But, did you know that for 10 years Tucson has done the same exact thing right in our own backyard? The yearly event is put on by the El Rio Theatre Project and this year the group is tacking the age old classic, Romeo and Juliet
  • El Rio Theatre Project

For a refresher: Romeo and Juliet is a tale of star-crossed lovers who find themselves and their love in the midst of a family feud. The story takes them on a journey of trials and tribulations that will put their love to the test. 
  • El Rio Theatre Project
Romeo and Juliet is arguably Williams Shakespeare's most famous work and it is a sight that you will not want to miss. 

One leg of the show has already passed, but do not fret because there are still two more to enjoy. Make sure to catch Romeo and Juliet either Sept. 22-25 or Sept. 29- Oct. 2. Admission into the event is free, but donations are gladly accepted. Make sure to mark your calendars because I'm sure this play will be to die for. 

For more information check out the event page on Facebook.

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Fruit Fiends Unite for Tucson's Pomegranate Festival

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 11:00 AM

There's an event for all the fruit fanatics out there and it's coming to you this Saturday, Sept. 24. The Annual Pomegranate Festival will be coming to Tucson's Mission Gardens, 946 W. Mission Ln., for the second year in row from 9-11 a.m. 
  • Peggy_Marco/Pixabay

Brought on by the Friends of Tucson's Birthplace in conjunction with the Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture, the festival is a free, all ages event. Festival goers can enjoy the wide variety of pomegranates with other fruit enthusiasts as well as music, tastings and presentations from Jesus Garcia, Nina Sajovec and Alfredo Gonzalez.

You don't want to be caught off guard of your fruit knowledge at this homage to pomegranates.

Here are few fruit facts to know before going to the Pomegranate Festival:

- Pomegranates are in season from September to February in the Northern Hemisphere. In the Southern Hemisphere, the fruit is in season from March to May.

- The pomegranate originated from the Mediterranean area. Today, it is cultivated all over the world including California and Arizona.

- In ancient Greece, the pomegranate was regarded as "the fruit of the dead."   

Click here for more information on the festival.

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Create a Masterpiece, Give the Gift of Art

Posted By on Tue, Sep 20, 2016 at 8:43 AM

  • Gifted Custom Art
Creative Juice Art Bar (6530 E. Tanque Verde Road) and Gifted Custom Art will team up on Saturday, Oct. 1 to raise money for the local Boys and Girls Clubs in Tucson. You don't have to be a modern Monet to attend this painting philanthropy event.

The concept is simple: Gifted provides a photo for you and your friends to convert into a painted masterpiece and Creative Juice gives you a place to do it. Registration to the Gifted Giving event is $55 per person and every registration gives one painting experience to a child at the Boys and Girls Club of Tucson - Frank and Edith Morton Clubhouse.    

For more information on how to register, click here

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Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Looking So Long At These Pictures Of You: Remembering Wendy Van Leuveren

Posted By on Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 7:51 PM

Wendy posed for "A Wendy in the Window" with photographer John Paul Marchand in 2008. While many other photos have emulated this pose over the years, at the time, the concept was all Wendy's, said Marchand. - JOHN PAUL MARCHAND
  • John Paul Marchand
  • Wendy posed for "A Wendy in the Window" with photographer John Paul Marchand in 2008. While many other photos have emulated this pose over the years, at the time, the concept was all Wendy's, said Marchand.

Friends and family of Wendy Van Leuveren are in shock. They’re grieving, and they’re looking for answers. But one thing is very clear—the sudden
death of this well-known and well-loved woman is a tragedy that has rocked many throughout the Tucson community.

On Wednesday, Aug. 31, Wendy took her own life after a mostly-private struggle with mental illness. The death of this beloved mother, partner, daughter, sister and friend came as a surprise to many, as is evident in the numerous posts and comments on the “Remembering Wendy Van L” Facebook page, created on Aug. 31, and had 670 followers as of the evening of Sept. 13.

Loved ones also created the “Wendy Van Leuveren Memorial Fund” to raise money for Wendy’s partner Cameron Green and their young son Escher, to help ease financial responsibilities while they grieve. By Tuesday evening, supporters had raised $5,153 of the $6,000 goal and shared the post on Facebook 390 times.

Wendy moved to Holland earlier this year with her partner and son, leaving behind an abundance of family, friends and admirers in Tucson and across the country.

Her foster-sister and close friend Nellie Cornett‎ posted on the remembrance Facebook page, “Wendy was always bad ass,” remembering the time a teenage Wendy calmly navigated a truck full of youth to safety after the brakes had gone out.

“She was always hungry for being better, doing better, having a principled and moral approach to everything,” Nellie posted. “She always strove to be a better friend.”

It’s obvious, scrolling through the posts, Wendy was a great friend. She was kind and smart—a business woman and community organizer. She was an artist and a great beauty—stunning and stylish. Even those who didn’t know her well—something that many wrote in their FB posts—were touched by her charm.

Loved ones will be holding a memorial to celebrate Wendy’s life on Saturday, Sept. 24, from 4 to 7 p.m., at the Galactic Center at 35 E. Toole Ave. People are encouraged to submit art to be hung on the walls at the memorial—something that reminds them of Wendy. Art and poetry can be submitted into a Google Drive at this linkTo submit art that isn’t digital, email or just bring them to the memorial.

Staff Pick

Frida: Portraits by Nickolas Muray

Tucson Botanical Gardens and Etherton Gallery are collaborating to bring the photography show Frida: Portraits by Nickolas… More

@ Tucson Botanical Gardens Oct. 10-May 31, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. 2150 N. Alvernon Way.

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