We all know the first Thanksgiving wasn't as simple as a bunch of pilgrims and Native Americans sitting around, loving each other over turkey. But do children know that? The history of the holiday tends to be glossed over in schools, so it's up to you to show your kids that the natives gave our country a lot more than hints on how to grow corn.
All you have to do is bring your family to the Tucson Children's Museum's First Thanksgiving Festival. There, kids can get the nonpilgrim side of the tale straight from Mary Redhouse, a musician and master storyteller of the Diné (Navajo) tribe. She'll tell entertaining stories, play the flute and perform native vocal songs, all while allowing her young audience to join in with their own movements and sounds. Afterward, she'll lead interactive activities that teach kids about the contributions Native Americans have made to our Constitution, our agriculture and our culture as a whole. In addition, children can participate in a drawing workshop with local Yoeme (Yaqui) artist Lydia Maldonado, who'll talk about the role of flowers in Yaqui culture and will add her two cents about what Thanksgiving means.
"The teachers' guides stay away from the conflict that occurred during the formation of this country," Redhouse reminds us. "It's a delicate matter, but the way I'll approach it is I'll tell (the kids) ... there were promises that were never fulfilled. ... In our family, Thanksgiving is about peace, love and understanding. We try to carry on the traditions of native people with all cultures. Young people can catch this message and make it a part of their lives."
Museum admission is $3.50 for children, $5.50 for adults and $4.50 for seniors. --A.M.
Jane Barton is an artist, not a scientist. But she gets much of her inspiration via the lens of a microscope.
It all started through Barton's late husband, dermatopathologist and professor Paul Bozzo, who frequently incorporated her Western art slides into his lectures. The combination of painting and pathology seemed natural to both Barton and Bozzo, and the concept grew on them. Then, last February at a pathologists' seminar, Barton viewed slides of lymph nodes and hairy cell leukemia and was struck by their intrinsic beauty. She couldn't resist the idea of using her painting skills to make pathological slides into art.
The resulting work comes in sets of two pieces. The first part of each set is a small plein air oil painting, usually of a landscape. The second, larger piece consists of a blown-up pathology slide that's been painted over with oils--a technique of reworking the surface referred to as "pentimento." The two pieces are hung side by side to mirror each other, the pathology slide appearing as an ethereal, abstract version of the plein air painting. Thus, a slide of squamous cell carcinoma becomes a partly cloudy day at Honeybee Canyon, and a slide of septic skin fungus gives us a tranquil image of a shoreline. The effect is striking.
"As an artist," says Barton, "I think part of my job, my challenge, is to suggest a different point of view of our world. These paintings do that on many levels. ... The large world is small; the small world is large; and you'll find beauty in unexpected places."
Barton's latest works, which she has dubbed "pathscapes," are currently on view at Ventana Medical Systems, the facility that provided most of the slides. Gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. --A.M.
Do you know what a bouzouki is? How about a bodhran? No? Well, all I'll say is that they're musical instruments, and they're both played in Irish bands. Specifically, they're both played by Tucson's own traditional Irish group Round the House, who will be making use of them this Saturday at the 17th Street Market.
The members of Round the House aren't really very Irish. In fact, the most Irish member, Claire Zucker, has only one-third Irish blood. But maybe that says something about their dedication: They play Irish music because they love it--not because they have any kind of ethnic obligation. And their love of the music is obvious to anyone who sees them perform.
"We're not a band that just sits and plays," says Zucker. "We like to interact and get to know people. Our band has a great time being together and playing for people, and anyone listening to us will know that right away. Our joy in the music tends to be infectious."
Round the House always plays a variety of songs, including soulful, melancholy Irish ballads and slow airs. But their favorite music seems to be energetic, happy tunes like jigs and reels--music that makes people at their shows start tapping their feet, moving around in their chairs or actually getting up and dancing. And Bonnie Brooks, the media director of the 17th Street Market, definitely prefers to focus on the band's lighthearted qualities. "They're just a neat group of people, and it's going to be fun and a party!" she exclaims. "If (people) want to dance in the aisles, they absolutely can."
The show is free, and you can shop for groceries while you listen. But don't expect to get much done--you might end up abandoning your cart in favor of doing a slip jig. --A.M.
"... I'm always reminded of a very pertinent statement that my grandfather made," stated Arun Gandhi in a September Democracy Now! interview. "He said, 'Violence will prevail over violence only when someone can prove to me that darkness can be dispelled by darkness.' And I think that's what we have to remember and try to imbibe in our lives ... that we can never overcome violence with more violence. We can only overcome violence with respect and understanding and love for each other."
Arun Gandhi, grandson of India's late spiritual leader Mohandas (or Mahatma) Gandhi, has a lot of quotes from his infinitely wise ancestor. And a lot of stories. Did you know that, for most of his early career, Gandhi was too shy to speak in public? Or that he was once kicked off a train for being a nonwhite with a first-class ticket? Or that he sometimes made money by selling his autograph--and he charged his own grandson, just like everyone else?
All that aside, though, most of what Arun Gandhi learned from his grandfather has to do with his legendary philosophy of nonviolence, or "satyagraha" (Sanskrit for "the pursuit of truth"). And you can learn about it, too, it in a one-hour video presentation Arun Gandhi made, which will be screened next Thursday at Pima Community College; the screening will be followed by an open discussion. In the presentation, Arun will explain what, exactly, Mohandas meant by nonviolence, and will examine situations in which nonviolence could have made a difference. Ultimately, the younger Gandhi will apply the elder's thinking to our current international situation, arguing that it's only through nonviolence that the U.S. can become a true--moral--superpower.
The presentation is free, and there will even be free popcorn. All proceeds from soft drinks and water will benefit the American Cancer Society. --A.M.