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Fun With Colors

Meet the Artist: Peggy Bowden
6 to 9 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16
Enchanted Earthworks Gallery, 2980 N. Swan Road, Suite 140
327-7007

Watercolors--everyone's favorite grammar-school activity--will be the focus of Enchanted Earthworks' artist spotlight this Friday. More specifically, the work of renowned watercolor artist Peggy Bowden will be prominently featured at the gallery, where she will be present to field questions and offer advice to watercolor hopefuls.

It has been 30 years since Bowden first moved to Southern Arizona. Most recently, she spent time working as a nurse in Ashland, Ore., but she has returned to the Southwest to continue her first love: painting desert scenes.

On a ranch called Rancho Milagro in the foothills of the Santa Rita Mountains, near Mexico, Bowden works to capture the purple shadows and changing desert skies on canvas. Bowden tackles complete projects rather than working from painting to painting. "It becomes a kind of watercolor Zen," Bowden says. "My next major undertaking will be a quest to paint all of the missions built by Father Kino in the 1600s."

Such Eastern-minded thinking could only come from the source. Recently, Bowden spent time studying with Chinese watercolorist Lian Zhen and plans to travel to China sometime in the fall to study further. She is particularly fond of the way Chinese watercolor manages to capture the temporal nature of time. "The boldness and spontaneous nature of Chinese watercolor appeals to my sense of the fleeting quality of nature," Bowden says. "A sunset lasts five minutes; the changing shadows of the mountains last seconds."

To see someone who is making a living out of the work you got your mom to hang on the fridge, check out Peggy Bowden's exhibit at Enchanted Earthworks. --M.P.


Decadence Remembered

1920s Hot Jazz Party
6 to 11 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 22
Westward Look Resort, 245 E. Ina Road
917-2476

Do you remember the 1920s, with flappers, speakeasies and the Stock Market crash? If not, no worries, because next Thursday, the Westward Look Resort will provide a crash course in one of the most decadent decades (no word yet on an '80s-themed Wall Street party), with food, drinks and dancing.

It's also worth noting that this party comes one week to the day before the Weekly's Best of TucsonTM--with a Roaring '20s theme that's been promoted since April--hits the streets. We're flattered by the, um, imitation.

Public Relations Director Donna Kreutz discussed the resort's not-so-unique decision to host the themed party. "Just for fun, we decided to sponsor a musical journey through time to celebrate this resort's long history of good-time entertainment," Kreutz says. "We're starting in the 1920s, when the Tucson Sunshine Climate Club began advertising Tucson as a sunny travel destination."

The Westward Look Resort became one of Tucson's favorite speakeasies--a place to drink and dance--during Prohibition. In memory of such secretive and freewheeling times, the resort will host a variety of likeminded events and activities. "Guests are encouraged to wear 1920s attire," Kreutz says. "They'll pass by Model-A roadsters along the drive and use their secret password to gain entrance."

Other things on tap include drinks (like "bathtub gin") served Prohibition-style in coffee cups, a three-course dinner and, of course, music. S'Wonderful, a swing sextet, will crank out the tunes while a dance instructor teaches the Charleston to patrons looking to let loose.

So, if you're so inclined, swing, flap and Charleston your way to the Westward Look Resort. Show up early; stay late, and drink freely without the fear of Prohibition. --M.P.


Willfully Surreal

Aimee Bender Reading
7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 16
Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave.
792-3715

Los Angeles author Aimee Bender recently released her second collection of usually fantastical short stories, Willful Creatures, to favorable responses. Entertainment Weekly's review noted, "What a treat to spend 15 stories in Bender's vast and wonderfully unhinged imagination."

On Friday, Bender will read from Willful Creatures and answer questions at Antigone Books. Bender notes how the stories in her recent collection track a variety of themes from "levels of loss, power play, the way we connect and disconnect, teenage angst (and) how oddities can turn out to be gifts."

Even though many of the stories in Willful Creatures and Bender's other short-story collection, The Girl in the Flammable Skirt, are thoroughly imaginative, Bender notes that it is through the monotony of routine that inspiration strikes her. "I sit at my desk for two hours each morning, and I get very bored, so usually, something starts to cook up," Bender says. "Most of the time, the stories don't go anywhere, so it's a pleasure for me when there's momentum in the story or image itself."

Bender will be reading with friend and UA MFA grad Julie Newman, who introduced her to Tucson and the many wonders it has to offer. "She is Tucson's greatest fan," Bender says. "I get to see it through her eyes--which means major desert appreciation--smells and birds and flowers, and also urban appreciation, like Hotel Congress and good food."

During her readings, Bender hopes that people gain "a sense of permission, and an emotional experience that is somehow resonant, even in--and maybe especially in--an unexpected way," despite the occasional surrealist flourishes, like pumpkin-headed people and a boy with key-shaped fingers.

To hear Bender's fantastical take on realistic dilemmas from Willful Creatures, head to Antigone Books this Friday at 7 p.m. --M.P.


Herbs and More

Amazon John Easterling Herb Seminar
6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 20
St. Francis in the Foothills Church, 4625 E. River Road
290-6889

If you're tired of your experimentation with herbs (the illegal kind, perhaps?) getting you in trouble, check out Amazon John Easterling's herb seminar on the healing values of herbs (the legal kind) and the benefits of all-natural rainforest skin-care products.

Easterling knows first-hand the healing potential of herbs. His testimonial stems from the time he caught a low-grade jungle fever during one of his trips in the Amazon rainforest. Luckily, the Shipibo Indian community took note of John's worsening condition and gave him some herb tea. "My fever broke overnight, and after 10 days, my health was at a whole new level of life experience," Easterling says.

The experience has turned Easterling into a believer of herbs' true healing power, which he feels are potentially as potent as any medication. "Pure whole wild herbs ... have the potential to feed our body's organ systems so that it performs at its most efficient and optimal level," Easterling says.

As if learning ways to steer clear of HMOs, medication and doctor's offices is not reason enough to check out Easterling's seminar, there's an open herb bar that doubles as a test station for those who still have their doubts. "The open herb bar ... is an opportunity for the people who attend to sample many of the various rainforest botanicals," Easterling says. "Everything is free, and there are experienced assistants there to explain what each plant is generally used for."

However, Easterling stresses that he and his staff are not physicians. "We, of course, do not diagnose or treat disease," Easterling says, "but simply offer plants that have been used for centuries to nourish and support the organ and glands."

To see about the healing and nutritional potential of herbs, head on over to St. Francis in the Foothills Tuesday. --M.P.

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