Artist of the month; find out what he's up to; a collection of extroverts; a long-dead queen; land and people; message crimes.

City Week 

ARTIST OF THE MONTH. Like those bumper stickers on just about everyone's minivan proclaiming their kid's status as grand pooh-bah of some elementary school in town, the Tucson Arts District Partnership boasts its own version of a monthly accolade --without the dumb sticker.

Each month, it celebrates the uniqueness and skill of a local artist and gives us, the pedestrian (yes, some of us still walk in this town) a chance to see what the artist's work is about.

In June, Rebecca Carlton shines in the spotlight. You can view her colorful clay artwork in the windows of the Arts District's window at 4 E. Congress St. all month.

Carlton got her bachelor's in fine arts and her master's in education at the UA and began designing and manufacturing children's toys she calls Endangered Creatures. They're soft toys sold all over the place, including the Smithsonian Institute and the Wolf Sanctuary. Her Bardo Studio in Armory Park is filled with tile works including baptismal fonts mainly used for birdbaths, bench seats, bowls and masks. Carlton also works outside the studio, building large-scale public art projects, like the one she's designing for the entrance to Kinney Road as part of a county roadway project.

She shares her love of art with kids--548 of them in grades kindergarten through sixth--at Manzanita Elementary School. Carlton doesn't just do arts and crafts with the kids but incorporates real-life events--like Sept. 11 and the death of a classmate--to spark their creative and emotional energies.

Carlton's work is on display through the end of June. Walk by anytime or call 624-9977 for details.

FIND OUT WHAT HE'S UP TO. Not all dance moves are the same. Go to another state or another country, and the nuances of those places filter through the movement arts.

Although Jeffrey Hughes has maintained a steady connection with the Tucson community since 1988, he's danced with and directed professional ballet companies around the world.

Hughes has danced with the Joffrey Ballet in New York City, Joffrey II and the Cleveland Ballet. He's been the artistic director with the Ballet de Monterrey and the Hong Kong Ballet. He's also served as guest choreographer setting new work for other professional companies, including our very own Ballet Tucson.

Right now, Hughes is the artistic director of Ohio Ballet. He's in town on Friday, June 13, at 5:30 p.m., to talk about the ways in which his local, national and international dance experiences all relate to each other and have combined in his professional work to create an eclectic and distinctive career.

His lecture is part of the UA's Summerfest art and lecture series and takes place in Room 130 of the Ina Gittings Dance Theater, located just west of Campbell Avenue, on the north side of the UA Mall. It's free and open to the public. Call the School of Music and Dance at 626-8020 with your questions.

A COLLECTION OF EXTROVERTS. Thank goodness for those outgoing types, or else theater would never have evolved.

Not Burnt Out, Just Unscrewed is an ongoing gig that appears in a few clubs downtown--most typically at Vaudeville Cabaret. This week on Friday, June 13, at 8:30 p.m., the improvisational comedy show kicks off at 7 Black Cats. Using audience suggestions, the folks on stage create short, hilarious scenes. Shows have been staged for a little less than a year as an alternative, some say "interesting," way to get the bands--and club audiences--revved up.

There's a small cover charge of $3. 7 Black Cats is located at 260 E. Congress St. It's a strictly enforced 21-and-over show.

Now, for all you wannabe extroverted theatrical types, you also have a chance this week to try out to be part of the show. Auditions are held on Tuesday, June 17, and Wednesday, June 18, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., at Bookman's, 6230 E. Speedway Blvd. Test and develop your comedic improv skills at the performance level. Pretend you're on TV's Whose Line Is It Anyway?

For questions about the show or the auditions, call 245-6288.

HAIL YE OLDE, LONG-DEAD QUEEN. This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Queen Elizabeth I of England. Seems like an appropriate time to celebrate her life.

Musica Sonora has mapped out a program of early music to do just that. The performance includes work by Morley, Dowland, Byrd, Monteverdi, Lock, Corelli, Couperin, Vivaldi, Bach and other prodigies of long ago. The ensemble consists of musicians who have studied at the prestigious conservatories and colleges with acclaimed early musicians. Performing internationally, the ensemble has played music that spans the Baroque era--music that is secular and sacred, inebriated and sober (we're speaking metaphorically here, of course).

The ensemble includes Cassandra Ewer, soprano; James Callegary, tenor; David Bishop on guitar; Amy Haltom and David Sego playing Baroque violins; Kiann Mapes on Baroque flute; Tulio Rondón on Baroque cello; Jeffri Sanders on harpsichord; and Stephen Keyl on organ. Christina Jarvis directs.

The concert starts at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, June 14, at Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St., near Speedway and Tucson boulevards. Suggested donation is $8.

Call 628-8119 for all the details.

LAND AND PEOPLE. Tucson photographer Carter Allen and his wife, writer Dodie Allen, have traveled frequently to the Navajo Reservation, located in northeastern Arizona, near the borders of Utah and New Mexico. Out of these trips was born The Weaver's Way: Navajo Portraits that the couple self-published.

Their collection of photographs and text highlight the 27,000 square miles of land peopled by more than 300,000 Diné. While they describe the land as enchanted, the Allens say it was the people who inspired the couple to create the book. It was the proud and noble Navajo that eventually became the book's subject.

More specifically, it's the Navajo weavers who captivated the Allens. They were taken by the breathtaking rugs designed and created on the reservation. As a matter of fact, the Allens' first Navajo rug was purchased at Crowpoint, a New Mexico rug auction. Realizing that each rug was a work of art as well as a small part of the weaver's soul, the Allens wanted to give these folks a face and voice via their duotone portraits and accompanying biographical essays.

Carter and Dodie Allen retired to Tucson in 1991 after Carter's 40-year career as a commercial photographer. His first book, Cowboys of Santa Cruz County, also featured text written by his wife.

The Allens read and share images from their newest collaboration on Sunday, June 15, at 2 p.m., at Reader's Oasis, located at 3400 E. Speedway Blvd. The reading is free. Call 319-7887 for more information.

MESSAGE CRIMES. When someone sprays a wall with racist commentary, it sends a message, loud and clear.

Hate crimes are different than other crimes--though the latter may be downright hateful, too--as they pinpoint the offender as a messenger of bile. What they're trying to say to a particular group is, "We don't like you, now get out!"

In February 2000, more than 100 people packed into Wingspan, the lesbian, gay, bi and transgender community center, for the first-ever Wingspan Community Forum. They gathered to respond to the stabbing of a gay UA student at the Rainbow Planet Coffee Shop on Fourth Avenue. The man charged in the stabbing was reported to have shouted, "God hates faggots," during the attack. How articulate.

That same week, more than 5,000 people marched from downtown to the university campus to protest the stabbing and show support.

There are plenty more examples of hate crimes against queer people in Tucson. Luckily, some have been reclassified as hate crimes--like the heinous baseball-bat beating a year go this week of a 24-year-old gay man left for dead near Fourth Avenue. It's an important step in tackling a serious problem against perceived minorities. Meanwhile, some of our elected officials, like Pennsylvania's Sen. Rick Santorum, continue to make fools of themselves by comparing same-sex marriages to incest or bestiality. What a Neanderthal. Unfortunately he's in charge of making laws that affect all of us.

Wingspan invites you to an interactive forum to examine hate crimes against the LGBT community here in Tucson on Thursday, June 19, at 6 p.m. Find out what you can do to help prevent violence and learn about new collaborations between the Tucson Police Department, Wingspan, the criminal justice system and other community groups.

The forum is free and open to all--gay, straight, in-between and allies of all stripes. A reception follows. Wingspan is located at 300 E. Sixth St. For details, call 624-1779.

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