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Purposeful Paintings

Transcending Barriers: Selections from the MDA Art Collection
Friday, July 1, through Sunday, July 31
Hours: Weekdays, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Reception: 2 to 4 p.m., Saturday, July 9
Western National Parks Headquarters, 12880 N. Vistoso Village Drive
622-6014

The people behind the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) Art Collection want to show that just because someone might not be able to use their hands or other body parts easily, it doesn't mean they aren't creative or that they cannot make beautiful things, says Michael Blishak, the MDA Director of Community Programs.

The MDA Art Collection started in 1992, when the group decided that they wanted to showcase the efforts of the people they were representing.

"We wanted to honor the people we serve, people with neuromuscular diseases--and decorate the building," Blishak says.

All of the artwork in the collection has been done by someone who has a neuromuscular disease. Put simply, neuromuscular diseases are defined as muscle-wasting/weakening in nature, so often they inhibit hand and arm motion. However, afflicted artists find different ways around the problem. For instance, some artists use a sling for their arm to make painting more comfortable, Blishak says. Others learn to use their mouth to hold the paintbrush--and they often achieve results that are indistinguishable from someone who holds a one in their hands.

There are currently 330 pieces total in the MDA collection, and they are displayed in various art shows all over the country. There will be 11 selected paintings displayed at the Tucson show.

Blishak has been with the organization for 27 years, and he feels it has been a rewarding experience.

"It (the art) is a tribute creativity, determination and willpower. It's an honor for me to work with the program," Blishak says. --S.B.


Acoustic Americana

Singer/Songwriter Bob Wilders
7:30 to 9 p.m., Thursday, June 30
Green Fire Bookshop, 925 E. Fort Lowell Road
408-0677, www.bobwilders.com

Hear a slice of true blue American music June 30 at Green Fire Bookshop with singer/songwriter Bob Wilders.

Blues, country Western and folk music are what Wilders plays--"all the stuff I grew up listening to," he says. He will perform original material, backed up with a bassist and a percussionist.

Wilders, who came to Tucson from Hawaii, has been playing acoustic guitar since the late '60s. He began songwriting around the same time to complement his guitar work.

Wilders first started performing his own compositions for the public after coming to Tucson, including being on the cable access music show Harrigan's After Hours. He also has performed at the Tucson Folk Festival. In his experience, Tucson has a stronger music scene compared to Hawaii, he says.

Wilders will be one of the last performances at Green Fire, which is closing down in early July to change into a local music venue run under the same ownership. The bookshop has been a local resource for Southwestern and nature books.

Last year, Wilders released his second CD, Best of an Old Friend. It is available for purchase at www.cdbaby.com, as is his eponymous debut CD, released in 2002. Both CDs encompass the range of genres he plays, swinging from country ballads and blues songs to up-tempo folk music.

As an aside, Wilders also holds a third-degree black belt in Akido marital arts.

This show is free. Following the gig at Green Fire, Wilders will be playing the next day at the Epic Café, 745 N. Fourth Ave., from 8 to 10 p.m. --M.W.


Thumbs Down to Hypocrisy

Women's Art Assembly--Music, Poetry and Art
Reception: 6 to 9 p.m., Friday, July 1
Showing: 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, July 2 and July 9
Shane House, 213 S. Fourth Ave.
404-2187

According to the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, the word hypocrisy is defined as "the practice of professing beliefs, feelings or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness."

Starting this Friday, a group of women artists will attack the encompassing issue of hypocrisy in modern life through art. The presentation, open to the public Saturday, July 2, and again a week later on July 9, includes paintings, official government propaganda and other things.

The catalyst for this presentation was a year-long trip that took event organizer Kimski Fox across Europe and other parts of the top half of the world.

"Looking at the U.S. from the outside, I saw a lot of political hypocrisy, and I saw hypocrisy in myself," she says. "We profess to be a democratic, peaceful country, but it's not the truth."

The realization left Fox stunned. So, she took to her sculpting materials and put her feelings into art for catharsis. She then gathered roughly a dozen local women artists to share the same thing. The art is meant to be their form of dialogue against personal and political hypocrisy.

There are "a lot of women with issues like that," Fox says.

Fox hopes that the message--to be responsible and truthful to oneself--rings well with those attending, adding that "it's important to look at ourselves. We blame the government, but we are the government."

This presentation is free. At the opening reception, the band Orion will play, and refreshments will be available. --M.W.


Laura Ingalls and Co.

The Tombstone Western Film Festival and Symposium
Friday, July 1, through Monday, July 4
Various locations, Tombstone
(520) 457-9175, www.tombstonewesternfilm.com

While Tombstone may conjure up visions of crusty characters having showdowns at high noon, the upcoming Tombstone Western Film Festival will be showcasing its softer, gentler side--the side that grew up loving Laura Ingalls and hating that mean Nellie Oleson. That's right: This year, the festival will be the site of an all-star Little House on the Prairie cast reunion.

People attending the festival can expect to see many of the actors from the show. Dean Butler (Almanzo Wilder), Charlotte Stewart (Miss Beadle) and Hersha Parady (Alice Garvey) will be there, as well as Melissa Gilbert (Laura Ingalls) and Alison Arngrim (Nellie Oleson). Various episodes of Little House on the Prairie, with special significance to the theme of the festival, will be shown throughout the event, and there will even be some discussion panels with the actors talking about the evolution of the show, among other things.

And that's not all. Actors from other Western television shows and movies will attend. Bruce Boxleitner from The Gambler, Stella Stevens from The Ballad of Cable Hogue and Jon Provost from Lassie will be there, too.

There will be different activities every day, including film screenings, a variety show and a special "Guns, Gals and Gamblers" casino night. Casino night attendees are encouraged to wear 1880s-era costumes to get into the full spirit of things, and there will be an auction, three no-host bars, raffles and, of course, gambling.

Tickets covering the entire event are $125 per person. For individual event prices, go to www.tombstonewesternfilm.com. --S.B.

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