City Week 

Trading Spaces

Rebuilding Together Tucson's Third Annual Spring Cleaning in Barrio Hollywood
9 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 21
Barrio Hollywood, 855 N. Melrose Ave.
294-7765; www.rebuildingtogethertucson.org

When winter ended in the days of yore, spring cleaning began when the layers of hay on the kitchen floor were thrown out the door. For residents in Barrio Hollywood, spring cleaning is a little bit different: There's no hay throwing or waiting for warmer days.

"We wanted to make this project enjoyable and not be doing this when it's 100 degrees outside," said John Gaffney, project coordinator of Rebuilding Together Tucson, a volunteer-based nonprofit founded in 1992. "We wanted to make it easier to help homeowners who can't get on their roofs or do routine maintenance, so that's why we're working from 9 o'clock in the morning in January, when it's 50 or 60 degrees outside."

Folks who know how to pick up a paintbrush and landscape a yard are always welcome, Gaffney said, but the real challenge is getting volunteers who have heating and cooling know-how to help "summerize" about 10 needy homeowners' houses this weekend. In 2006, Rebuilding Together Tucson hopes to assist 50 homeowners by July. So far, 16 homeowners have been helped.

Many of the houses that need renovation and repair are the homes of the elderly, the disabled or families with children. Rebuilding Together Tucson works with Barrio Hollywood to see which residents are eligible and in need of assistance, based on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development guidelines. The main goal with community workdays such as these, Gaffney said, is to help low-income residents prepare for the blistering summer season by performing cooler maintenance.

Visit the Rebuilding Together website to sign-up. --M.H.

Strange Fruit of the Silver Screen

Hanson Film Institute screens Oscar Micheaux's 'Within Our Gates'
Noon to 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22
Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
322-LOFT; www.loftcinema.com

Pioneering filmmaker Oscar Micheaux received a star on Hollywood Boulevard's Walk of Fame in 1987, more than 30 years after his death. It was overdue, given that Micheaux was the first African American to produce a feature film and the first African American to produce a "talkie."

One of Micheaux's most famous films, Within Our Gates, disappeared soon after its controversial release in 1919. Remarkably, more than 70 years later, the film was recovered at the Filmoteca Espanola in Madrid.

"One of the reasons it's the most famous Micheaux film is it's the oldest surviving film known now by an African-American filmmaker, but it's also relevant since it's reputed to be an African-American response to Birth of a Nation," said Vicky Westover, program developer at the UA's Hanson Film Institute. "Another reason this film is important is that Micheaux was a prolific filmmaker, and yet not very many people have seen his work. The content of the film deals with racism and the economic depression of blacks. Even though the film was made in 1919, there's still food for thought."

Luckily, we get a chance to see Micheaux's silent film in its restored-print and live-piano-accompaniment glory. Evelyn Preer stars as Sylvia Landry, a Southern educator who travels north to raise funds for a school for African-American children after her surrogate family is killed by a white lynch mob. Pearl Bowser, an eminent and award-winning black film history scholar, will introduce the film and lead a discussion afterward.

Tickets are $8 for general admission, $5 for students and seniors, and $4.50 Tucson Film Society members. --M.H.

Mariachi Monday Returns

Mariachi Extravaganza Concert
7 p.m., Monday, Jan. 23
Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway Blvd.

Back by popular demand--and we're talking patrons reportedly hanging out at the box office immediately after the first show, saying, "Send me a postcard if you do this again!"--the Mariachi Extravaganza makes its second appearance at the Gaslight Theatre's Monday Night Family Concert Series on Jan. 23.

"If anyone could be here and feel the energy, especially from the last group, Mariachi Cielo de Mexico, you left feeling good about the music and yourself," said Becky Diaz, director of public relations for the Gaslight Theatre and the mastermind of the first extravaganza. "The energy of the band leader Juan de Dios Noperi was wonderful. Ultimately, we wanted more culture at the Gaslight, different people and different cultures, not just jazz or swing music."

Audiences loved last year's break from the Gaslight's traditional programming, Diaz said. "We've also been told that this was the best concert in the Monday Night Family Concert Series, which started about five years ago."

Diaz strongly suggests you get your tickets early. The three-act show is anticipated to sell out and will feature award-winning Mariachi Sonido de Mexico, internationally televised Mariachi Cielo de Mexico and Mexico favorite Mariachi soloist Josefina Gallegos. If you miss this concert, the good news is that Diaz has scheduled three other performances for later this year.

Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for children 12 and under. --M.H.

Sex, Drugs and ... Opera?

Arizona Opera presents 'Semele'
7:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday, Jan. 20 and 21; 2 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 22
TCC Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave.
www.azopera.org; 293-4336; 321-1000

The story of Semele is the stuff Lifetime original movies are made of--an immortality-hungry heroine tries to rub elbows with the gods, with tragic results. The myth made famous by Ovid chronicles what happens when Jupiter enthrones his mortal mistress, Semele. The classic translates well to opera, but most contemporary productions keep the love triangle in Thebes.

The Arizona Opera's debut production of Semele stays true to the myth, but with a twist--it's set in the cult-of-celebrity New York club scene of the 1970s. Arizona Opera's production reimagines Semele for modern audiences and features Metropolitan Opera mezzo soprano Stephanie Blythe. Director Chas Rader-Shieber conceived of the inventive setting, and his vision comes alive with the pop-art allusions of costume and set designer David Zinn (Santa Fe Opera, New York City Opera). Joel Revzen conducts.

Additionally, the Arizona Opera and the Museum of Contemporary Art have collaborated to "crosspollinate" visual art and opera. The two institutions will host a free pre-opera "Factory party" in the spirit of Andy Warhol's studio shindigs on Friday, Jan. 20. The party is free to AZO and MOCA patrons.

"It's a good reminder that all art was once contemporary," said Anne-Marie Russell, executive director and chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art. "Ovid was once contemporary. Handel was once contemporary, and then when we see universal human concepts and ideas played out at different times in history, we can see their stylistic variations endemic to their moment of time. But we also see the thread of humanity that connects us to the past."

Tickets cost $25 to $117 and are available online at www.azopera.org. --M.H.


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