It's the event you've all been waiting for, calling me about and fretting that you've already missed--the 15th annual All Souls' Procession through the streets of downtown Tucson.
What began in 1990 as a "ritualistic performance piece" by Tucson artist Susan Johnson (who was grieving the passing of her father) inspired other local artists to embrace grief, loss and remembrance through a celebration of life that inflames people with the desire to make puppets. The group grew larger; the police and fire departments got involved (by guiding "the development of the parade to accommodate the growing number of participants in a healthy and harmonious way," says the press release, in a healthy nod of thanks to the city of Tucson), and more and more local organizations began joining the event. A seminal development occurred 9 years ago, when an impromptu organization called Many Mouths One Stomach was formed as a grant-receiver to support the growth of the procession and coordinate events year-round.
All of which adds up to hundreds of artists, musicians and performers--including Tucson Puppet Works, Flam Chen, the Molehill Orkestrah, Mat Bevel, BICAS, the Barbea Williams Dance Co., Capoeria Malandrigum and many more--as well as thousands of participants. The largest, diverse and "most important arts-related civic event Tucson has to offer" begins at 6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, when revelers will begin to assemble at the intersection of Fourth Avenue and University Boulevard. The procession itself begins at 7 p.m.; children of all ages are encouraged to participate.
For more information, call or visit the Web site listed above.
Don't be surprised to see hordes of scooters parked around Hotel Congress or buzzing through the streets of Tucson throughout the week--it's what admitted scooter enthusiast and Hotel Congress booker Adrienne Lake calls "a returning annual event that is really a celebration of the whole scooter culture, which is really a whole culture and world within itself.
"It's been a long-standing culture in England," she continues, "then (it) came over here and is still hugely popular in Europe and North America. It's really all about style and music, so what we put together is group of ska bands or bands doing ska music."
The six-day event features Phoenix's The Upsteadys--what Lake calls "a very traditional ska band in the truest sense; like the beginnings of ska before Madness, the Specials ... in that same tradition of Jamaican-style ska with horns--and the Orange County-band Putnam Hall, a "ska-fusion band," according to Lake.
Local bands such as the Jons and Warsaw Poland Bros. are also part of the event.
"It's really just celebrating the love of scooters and Vespas," says Lake. "It's just such a great style that has really endured and not changed much since it first got popular in England. People will be coming from all over; you're going to see some local people just coming to check it out, but there will be lots of hard-core scooter enthusiasts and also a lot of ska devotees--they really travel for these types of things."
Vintage and modern Vespas, Stellas, Lambrettas, Bajajs, Kymcos, Aprillias (one for me, please), Italjets and more are expected on the scene. For more information, call Congress at the number above.
The average citizen in the average American city drives by more art galleries in a week's-worth of commutes than they'll ever go into in their lives. And while Tucson residents are certainly more arts-oriented than the average citizen, relatively few can claim to have made the rounds of all our local galleries.
The Central Tucson Gallery Association has made it easy for Tucsonans to develop a better appreciation of the breadth and quality offered by its nine member galleries by organizing a first-Saturday Art Walk in and around downtown Tucson. General event hours are 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., though some galleries may close earlier, and admission to all participating galleries is free throughout the day.
Saturday, Nov. 6 marks the first such event. Participating galleries include: the 3Falk Gallery at 41 S. Sixth Ave. (628-9601); Dinnerware Contemporary Arts Gallery at 210 N. Fourth Ave. (792-4503); Platform Gallery at 439 N. Sixth Ave. (882-3886); Metroform Ltd. at 110 E. Sixth St. (882-6606); Davis Dominguez Gallery at 154 E. Sixth St. (629-9759); Raices Taller 222 Arts Gallery at 222 E. Sixth St. (629-9759); The Drawing Studio Gallery at 214 N. Fourth Ave. (322-9619); Studio 180 Fine Art Gallery at 180 E. Broadway Blvd. (884-5454); and Fala Gallery at 439 N. Sixth Ave. (628-4183).
Special exhibitions, artists' receptions and other activities will be regularly offered during these monthly events, described by CTGA as "family friendly." Original artworks by local and other artists include paintings, sculpture, photography, fiber and clay art, mixed media and more. Maps are available at any of the above-listed locations; please call individual galleries for hours and additional information.
As a child, I was particularly frightened by my Scottish great-grandmother, who called my father a "wee hairy beastie" (though she had a substantial mustache of her own), warned me not to whistle or I'd turn into a boy, and declared our Highland ancestors "nasty, nasty people," which I came to understand meant "violent." Everything she did, she did with determination; she lived to be more than 100 years old and received a letter from the queen congratulating her on the achievement, which made her snort.
Despite not being able to understand her at times and the fact that she rarely left her armchair, she was a wildly exotic person in my eyes, and left me with a deep appreciation for plaid.
Imagine my delight upon hearing that Tucson will not only celebrate its 18th annual Scottish Highland games this week, but can actually lay claim to being home to one of the few North American residents officially recognized by Scotland's Lyon Court as Head of Family or Chief of Clan--for those who live under a rock, that's James McBain, 22nd Hereditary Chief of the Ancient Celtic Clan McBain.
The games themselves will feature a Highland dance competition; an athletic competition ("otherwise known as BIG men and ladies throwing and tossing big heavy things," according to the press release); pipers and drummers in mass bands; Celtic clans, septs, families and societies; activities for children; vendors and "music, food and fun!"
Tickets are $12 at the gate; children younger than 12 are free when accompanied by an adult.