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Thursday 15

WHAT'S THE BIG IDEA? Jose Rivera has come up with a half-dozen plays that taken together cover quite a bit of ground.

Sometimes comical, often frightening and always poignant, in Giants Have Us in Their Books: Six Naïve Plays, Rivera portrays the beauty of our hopes and the consequences of our actions. His territory is vast--from images of the Holocaust to the effects of the Persian Gulf War to the "miracle" of adolescence and the regeneration of life.

These plays are a whirlwind of sexuality, fear, mystique and beauty, written as if we were the subjects of stories told by giants. But don't let the childish nature of fairy tales fool you. These giants are part of real life.

Directed by Wendy Gordon, the play opens tonight at 7:30 and runs through Sunday at Directing Studio 116 in the University of Arizona's new drama building, near the southeast corner of Park Avenue and Speedway Boulevard. Admission is free, but tickets must be obtained in person at the Fine Arts box office, located in the lobby of the Marroney Theatre, or at the door. For more information, call 621-1162 or visit www.arts.arizona.edu/theatre.


Friday 16

TWO-FER. One artist's creations on her signature white canvas and another's sketches that open a window to his color-driven paintings are combined for a special exhibition.

Between a Poem and a Tree: Vera Klement, Recent Work and Groundwork: Drawings by Jim Waid are more than worth a trip to the UA campus. Klement's condensed inventory of subjects--tree trunks, tulips, portraits of silenced artists, doorways--sensually materialize on her white canvas. Waid's 90 sketchbook drawings offer insights to his paintings.

Both exhibitions, which open with a reception this evening, continue through January 13.

A reception and invitation to meet the artists is from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the UA Museum of Art, near Park Avenue and Speedway Boulevard. Also, Klement will be reading a selection of Russian poems at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Museum hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon to 4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is always free. For more information, call 621-7567.

CHRISTMAS CRAFTS. Glass art, pottery, jewelry, wood, metal, leather, photography, furniture, textiles, watercolor and mixed media.

One of Tucson's most popular craft markets also features fantastic food and the opening of El Nacimiento, Tucson's most magnificent Mexican Nativity.

The event, today through Sunday, has gifts for her, stuff for him and things for them. The Tucson Museum of Art's 20th Holiday Craft Market offers a fine selection of arts and crafts for everyone on your list.

More than 130 booths will be filled with handmade, unique gift items. During shopping breaks, visitors can stroll through the museum and historic block free of charge. Relax in the lush courtyards, listen to music and enjoy delicious refreshments that will be available all three days.

The market is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday in the Plaza of the Pioneers and TMA courtyards, 140 N. Main Ave., at the corner of Main and Alameda. Parking is available at the corner of Main Avenue and Paseo Redondo. El Nacimiento will be displayed in La Casa Cordova, one of Tucson's oldest homes. Opening ceremonies are from 2 to 4 p.m. Saturday. For more information, call 624-2333.

MASTER THE POSSIBILITIES. A number of classic and highly challenging dance works, among them a new approach to the second act of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake.

One would expect nothing less of Master Works by Master Minds, a dance concert featuring choreography by UA dance faculty.

While faculty member James Clouser has staged the traditional version of Swan Lake many times, for this production of the second act he has abandoned the conventional European setting and moved the ballet to ancient Persia. Tchaikovsky's original music and much of the original choreography serve as the framework for the piece, but Clouser's new choreography, combined with costumes designed in collaboration with Madeleine Maxwell, brings a new passion, glory and hope not often present in the traditional staging.

West Side Story, the electrifying musical that sets the ageless tragedy of Romeo and Juliet against the backdrop of gang warfare, is brought to the stage in a new jazz ballet piece choreographed by Michael Williams. The work, titled Four Dances from West Side Story, is a fusion of realism and fantasy.

Against the Current is Mia Michaels' exploration of the human will set against a display of explosive physicality balanced with emotional and spiritual power. It is set to an original score.

These are but a few of the highlights of the performances, which take place at 8 tonight and Saturday at Centennial Hall, 1020 E. University Blvd. Tickets cost $12 to $18 and are available through the Centennial Hall box office, 621-3341.


Saturday 17

DEM (REALLY BIG) BONES. Bigger, better, bolder.

That's how the folks at Tucson Children's Museum describe the new and improved Dinosaur Canyon exhibit.

A new dino-video, interactive computer station and the opportunity to "make" a fossil or fire off a volcano are all part of the fun.

A special reception to unveil the exhibit starts at 11 a.m. today at the museum, 200 S. Sixth Ave. Admission costs $5.50 adults, $3.50 children, $4.50 seniors. Regular hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

LOCAL AFFAIR. Tucson artist Matt Cohen's work is spending more than a few nights at Hotel Congress.

The exhibition of paintings in the hotel's gallery is presented in association with the Museum of Contemporary Art.

Having received his masters at the University of Arizona, Cotten has won numerous awards and sponsorships both locally and in Bulgaria. Presently of Tucson Puppetworks fame, Cotten resides and works in Tucson.

A reception for the artist is planned at Hotel Congress from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday. The exhibition runs through January 18. The hotel is located at 311 E. Congress St. For more information, call 624-5019.

DAWN OF THE DEAD-ON-THEIR-FEET. Can't get enough salsa dancing? Well, the Arizona Ballroom Company will give you a chance to dance all night.

Its salsa dancing marathon begins tonight at 6 with registration, followed by a group salsa class (no partner necessary) at 7. All ability levels are welcome. The open dancing and marathon competition--the last three couples on the dance floor win vacation prizes--get the downbeat at 8. Open dancing continues as long as there's a couple on the floor.

The evening includes professional shows, a raffle and food from Irene's Peruvian restaurant. A portion of the proceeds will benefit La Frontera.

Open dancing, including the group class and a raffle entry, costs $8 per person. Participation in the competition costs $35 per couple, including the class and other bennies. For registration and information, call 290-2990.


Sunday 18

BIG BLUES IN A "MINI FEST." Mitzi Cowell is known as Tucson's dominant slide guitarist, both electric and acoustic.

A familiar face on the city blues scene, she has played in a variety of styles and bands here and in New Orleans. She now leads her own band, the Valiants. Cowell is also known for drawing women and children to the music, with her percussion instruments and open ways with youngsters.

Her 1999 release of original music, 33, draws from the sound and feel of blues, gospel, New Orleans and swamp funk, folk, rock & roll and Western styles. It combines it all with infectious grooves, cool guitar sounds and honest lyrics.

Needless to say, all by her lonesome, Cowell is a draw. Add prolific songwriter and slide-guitar stylist Stefan George, singer-guitarist-rack-harpist Hans Olson, guitar-mandolin virtuoso and songwriter Steve James and acoustic guitarist Paul Geremia and you've got the makings of a real blues blowout.

Don't miss the Tucson Blues Society's Acoustic Showcase. The show's promoters are calling this a "mini-festival," but it sounds like the real deal.

The event is from 3 to 9 p.m. today at Nations Hall Performance Center at Muse, 516 N. Fifth Ave. Tickets cost $16 general, $12 for TBS members. Beer, wine, barbecue and desserts will be available for purchase. For more information, call 887-2126.

A STEP ABOVE STAND-UP. This one-man theatrical event is sure to tickle you.

Ludiker! is a comedy in two acts by Fred Knipe, so appealing that one recent audience member said, "It was like having Mark Twain entertaining us."

Dr. Ludiker is introduced as the legal profession's "most versatile expert witness" who has come to address the "care and maintenance of the legal mind." He is a self-styled, all-purpose scientist with a decidedly transparent lack of scientific integrity.

The good doctor is a fraud audiences take into their hearts because he is benign, amiable, even childlike in his enthusiasm.

Knipe has received four Emmys as a writer for public television and BMI awards for songwriting, and had a top number on the national country music charts.

Ludiker! is part of the Arts for All benefit called Fiesta de Arte. The festivities begin with a silent auction featuring works of art, jewelry and clothing, collectibles, antiques and certificates for fine dining and personal services. Then Dr. Ludiker will regale the audience with his wit, humor and unique observations on the human condition. Elegant appetizers and accompanying beverages will be served throughout the evening.

The event starts at 4 p.m. today at St. Gregory's High School, 3231 N. Craycroft Road. Beverages and hors d'oeuvres will be served before the performance and at intermission. Dress is casual. Tickets cost $25, available from Arts for All at 622-4100, ext. 204.


Monday 19

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK. It's not too late to catch the grand opening of Jane Hamilton Fine Art.

The new gallery at Joesler Village features every style from traditional to contemporary to Southwestern to whimsical. Select from the works of established artists Tom Murray, Rose Johnson, Robert Goldman and Mary Dolph Wood.

Although the location is new, the gallery's roots go back almost a decade, to its former location in historic Bisbee.

The grand opening show runs through November 30 at the gallery, 1825 E. River Road, Suite 111. Hours are 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. For more information, call 529-4886.


Tuesday 20

DEEP THOUGHTS. If you were fortunate enough to enjoy the 1994 Invisible Theatre production of Love Letters, you'll want to get tickets for a show that reunites three of its stars.

A.R. Gurney's Ancestral Voices is a beautiful chamber play, genteel and gently comic, about a well-to-do family living in New York during the war years of 1935-1942. The story develops the family struggles in times of global crisis.

What distinguishes this production is that it is told with rueful maturity by a man gazing back over the decades.

Jetti Ames, Manny Ferris and Molly McKasson, who performed in Love Letters and are well-versed in Gurney's work, are back tonight in Ancestral Voices, which runs through December 9.

The performance begins at 7:30 p.m. at 1400 N. First Ave. Tickets for tonight's show cost $18 and are available at the box office or by calling 882-9721. Performances are scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays; 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays; and 2 p.m. Sundays. No performance on Thanksgiving.


Wednesday 21

LIGHTING UP THE LAND. Two Arizona landscape painters use centuries-old techniques to create modern, Minimalist art.

See their work during Davis Dominguez Gallery's 25th Anniversary Season Part II: Luminous Landscapes and Organic Sculpture.

Barbara Jo McLaughlin of Tucson creates abstract, naturalistic sculpture in wood, aluminum and fiberglass. McLaughlin's sculpture skews common perceptions of fine sculpture by using recycled materials exclusively and making outsized forms that crawl, ooze, explode and fly (two pieces are suspended from the 30-foot ceiling).

Debra Salopek of Elgin produces glaze-technique oil paintings on board and black-and-white Impressionist drawings. Salopek's drawings evoke the grainy photographs of the 19th century or mezzotint etchings of the same period.

The works of New York painter Paul Hunter also are on display during the exhibition that runs through December 1 at Davis Dominguez Gallery. Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

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