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PEACE, PLEASE. We'd like to fill this whole space with those two words.

But then we wouldn't be able to tell you about Barbara Kingsolver's generosity in the name of peace.

Tucson's own novelist offers her only public appearance this spring to benefit the Tucson Peace Center with a reading from her recent book of essays, Small Wonder. In the now-released paperback edition, Kingsolver explores politics, culture and the natural world in her distinctly impassioned and humorous voice. Her views on U.S. politics and patriotism now take on even greater meaning in light of the escalation of war talk into actual bombs dropping. Small Wonder spent several months on The New York Times and Independent Booksellers bestsellers lists in its hardcover release.

Kingsolver reads on Thursday, April 10, at 7 p.m., and then answers questions and signs books at the Loft Cinema, located at 3233 E. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are available at Reader's Oasis (3400 E. Speedway Blvd.) and Antigone Books (411 N. Fourth Ave.). Buy them at these bookstores along with the book and they cost $10. For tickets only, the cost is $15. Get them at the door and they'll cost $18. All proceeds go to the Tucson Peace Center.

Questions? Call 319-7887.

ON THE LOWER FREQUENCIES, HE SPOKE FOR US. Ralph Waldo Ellison wrote a similar sentiment as his last line of his epic novel, Invisible Man--a complex tale about a black man in 1930s America who felt invisible given the prevailing racial stereotypes.

Ellison was born and raised in Oklahoma. While at Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he became deeply interested in writing. Disappointed in the limited capacity of African-American literature in the '50s, Ellison began experimenting with the force of words. Later, he used his experiences from Tuskegee and the injustices he encountered as a young black man in the South to write his now-famous work. Throughout his life, he strove to break racial and ethnic barriers rather than sustain them.

Honoring Ellison's efforts, two professors--Eric Hayot and Charlie Bertsch, both in UA's English department--have organized a Ralph Ellison Read-A-Thon, starting at noon on Thursday, April 10, and continuing for 24 hours through Friday, April 11.

Come take a turn at reading Invisible Man aloud or just listen to his amazing words. It's the third year for the reading marathon that takes place in front of the Arizona State Museum. The organizers believe it's a way to make literature come alive. Last year, 1,000 people read and listened to Anne Radcliff's gothic tale, Mysteries of Udolpho. In 2001, 500 folks came out to read Moby Dick.

Imagine stumbling around campus at 4 a.m. and hearing Ellison's amplified words.

"Reading the classics can feel like an obligation. The challenge is to rediscover how fun it can be," says Bertsch. "Spending hour after hour with other people who love books reminds us that literary art need not be a solitary pleasure."

It has a way of forging community out of difference. And wasn't that what Ellison was getting at with his last line?

If you want to read, call Eric Hayot at 626-0777 beforehand. To listen to the words float through the warm air, stop by the museum, located inside Main Gate at Park Avenue and University Boulevard.

URBAN OR URBANE. It's not your typical Spider-Man lunchbox on the auction block.

But it is that time of year for the seventh annual Urban Picnic and Art Auction sponsored by the Tucson Museum of Art, where local artists get very creative with the dented, mundane PB & J container.

It's a collection of eclectic lunchboxes indeed. Designs in all shades and stripes are available. The auction gets underway at 10 a.m. on Friday, April 11 and goes until 2 p.m. A live auction features original lunchboxes by Tucson's established and emerging artists. A silent auction includes Deezie Manning-Catron's painting Spring Tulip. A gourmet picnic lunch is available courtesy of Jonathan's Cork.

The lush courtyards of the museum are the place to lounge in the sun, take in the art and maybe leave with an arty lunchbox tucked under your arm. TMA is located at 140 N. Main Ave. Tickets for the picnic lunch cost $40. Auction tickets cost $3 apiece or four for $10. You don't have to be present to win, by the way.

For lunch reservations or other questions, call the Tucson Arts District Partnership at 624-9977.

KING OF THE ROAD. Eleven classic Harleys are about to rumble through town.

Enthusiasts, history buffs and budding riders get a first-hand peek at the machines that made The Harley-Davidson Motor Company king of the road. An 18-wheel semi-trailer comprises the Harley-Davidson Traveling Museum's A Highway Through Time--a show of memorabilia and rare archival images of the 100-year history of cycling.

Among the 11 celebrated bikes featured in this year's exhibition are the venerable 1913 Silent Gray Fellow (not even a whisper?), the 1962 FLHF Duo-Glide, the scrappy 125cc Model S and the granddaddy of the factory customs, the FXE 1200 Super Glide.

The bikes arrive on Friday, April 11, and shine from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Harley-Davidson/Buell of Tucson, located at 250 E. Grant Road. Admission is free but donations for MDA are welcome. For information, call 792-0111.

WE COULD USE A LITTLE LOVE. When Mat Bevel (aka performance artist Ned Schaper) tackles a topic, you know it's going to be witty, intriguing and most of all, kinetically enacted.

Love Lab's Instructor Cupid says, "This experiment is dangerous, but may bring great joy. It's a prerequisite for life's deepest experience."

Surrealistic Pop Science Theater features the moving sculptures only Bevel knows how to bring to life. His poetry and music weave through the performance. The new work reflects the values of the Mat Bevel philosophy by using found objects to raise awareness of conservation, creativity, resourcefulness and art as a reflection of the surrounding culture.

And just wait until you hear some of Mr. Cupid's lyrics--words like icky goo and shoe, itchy and stung, honey and sweetness are a few of the articulations.

Performances open this week and take place on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 8 p.m. through April 20. Tickets cost $8 at the door. Mat Bevel Institute is located at 530 N. Stone Ave. at the corner of Sixth Street.

Questions? Call 622-0192 or visit www.matbevel.com.

TRAVELER IN IDEAS. Some say that it's more fun to think about traveling than actually packing the suitcase with sensible shoes and camera.

For all you armchair travelers who launch your trips from the comfort of your wide-screen TV--this one's for you. Travel Odyssey 2003 is an interactive travel experience and fund-raiser rolled into one. On Sunday, April 13, from 2 to 5 p.m., travel all the way out to Westward Look Resort for the afternoon. Here's what you can expect.

Travel expert Helen Nodland hosts the event. Participants include travel pros such as Austin-Lehman Adventures, Linblad Expeditions, Crystal Cruises, Backroads, Classic Hawaii and more. They'll be happy to load your suitcase up with a plethora of potential luxury travel adventures. There's an auction (maybe you'll win something and actually go somewhere), raffle prizes and refreshments. Tickets cost $20 in advance or $25 at the door and all proceeds go to KUAT-TV and KUAT/KUAZ Radio--the folks who transport you around the globe with national and international news and performance programs.

Westward Look Resort is located at 245 E. Ina Road. For details, call 621-7358 or visit www.kuat.org/travel.

CHILD PRODIGIES. For 50 years, the Philharmonia Orchestra of Tucson has been molding kids who have musical talent into real-life musicians. Put 110 kids between the ages of 13 and 19 together and you get the award-winning, pre-professional symphonic ensemble,

The Philharmonia's Anniversary Gala celebrates a half-century of Tucson youth symphonies. That means some of those kids are now graying adults who still love music. Joining in the festivities are the Ballet Tucson and more than 30 guest instrumentalists, singers and conductors from across the country--both adult and prodigies alike.

Performers include former Philharmonia music directors John Dodson and Laszlo Veres, plus several alumni including baritone Allen Goltz and soprano Paige Spachman--they'll sing selections from Bizet's Carmen and Strauss' Die Fledermaus. Watch out for local young artists--10-year-old violinist Charlene Kim and 11-year-old trumpeter Tyler Connel--as well as youth orchestra alumni.

Rounding out the concert on Sunday, April 13, at 3 p.m. is a performance of Dvorak's Cello Concerto by 17-year-old Joann Whang, the 2003 Philarmonic Solo Competition Gold Medalist. Respighi's epic The Pines of Rome closes the program.

The concert takes place at the TCC's Music Hall located at 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets cost $14 for general admission and $10 for seniors or students. It's free to youth orchestra alumni and for current school band or orchestra directors--your reward for listening to out-of-tune, but happy student musicians.

Call 623-1500 for details.

COLLECTED RELICS TELL THEIR OWN STORIES. A reliquary is a container or shrine in which sacred objects are kept.

Cantrell Maryott makes art from the things she's collected from walks in the muted colored hills and sandy arroyos of the desert of Tucson. "My collecting started as a child, picking up misshapen parts, rusty and washed with an ancient patina," she explains.

Each item Maryott picks up tells its own story, has its own character. As she assembles these relics, her heart holds court. "Each piece is a connection between the doings of a people and the forces of the land." She adds that the relics are not only records of time, but a visual and tactile link to it.

Reliquary--An Art Show illustrates Maryott's storytelling. It's not ironic that the show is on display at Invisible Theatre during their run of Collected Stories, a play about two writers and the stories they collect. The art stays up through April 20 at the theater, located at 1400 N. First Ave. Show times are Tuesday through Sunday. Call with questions at 882-9721.

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