Tales of the City in Tucson

Armistead Maupin Speaks and reads from his books
7 p.m., Wednesday, June 25
The Loft Cinema
3233 E. Speedway Blvd.
791-4010; library.pima.gov

The annual author presentation of the Pima County Public Library's GLBT Committee takes place this Wednesday at the Loft with Armistead Maupin, the author of the Tales of the City series.

As a warm-up for Maupin's appearance, the library is showing the 1993 Tales of the City television miniseries from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday, June 21, at the Joel D. Valdez Main Library, 101 N. Stone Ave.

Michael Tolliver Lives is Maupin's latest work, which uses many of the same characters in the Tales of the City novels.

"I wanted to celebrate the gay men of my generation," said Maupin, "guys who've survived invisibility and homophobia and are still here to talk about it and be happy about their lives. I chose Michael Tolliver, who's the central character of my usual Tales novels, because I felt that readers were so familiar with his history that it would resonate for them."

Maupin began writing Tales of the City in 1976 for the San Francisco Chronicle as serial fiction. It developed into a series of books set in San Francisco that explored not only issues within the gay community, but how that community interacted with the world around them.

"I've always felt that my work had more power, because I tried to include gay people in the larger picture," said Maupin. "That would not only welcome many straight folks that have been our friends over the years, but also make gay people feel more aware of their place in the world."

Maupin says the miniseries is faithful to the spirit of his work.

"I think I was very lucky. Oftentimes, original works are bastardized by films, but that certainly wasn't the case with Tales of the City," Maupin said.

Both events are free. --J.G.

Elevated Artistry

Mount Lemmon Artisans Arts and Crafts Fair
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, June 22
Mount Lemmon Community Center
12949 N. Sabino Canyon Parkway, Summerhaven

As Tucson roasts with daytime temperatures well beyond the 100-degree mark, consider an escape to Mount Lemmon to take a peek at the creative handiwork of local artists at an arts and crafts fair, hosted by the Mount Lemmon Artisans this Sunday.

At least 21 local artists and craftspersons will sell their wares, including woodwork, glasswork, photography, textiles and watercolor paintings. This fair is one of three that the artisans group has in store for the next few months.

Cathie Logan, who takes entering artists' applications, said booth space for this weekend's fair is already full, but there is room available for planned fairs on Aug. 17 and Oct. 5. Participating artists pay $20 to sell at all three fairs, and 10 percent of their sales go toward paying Pima County for the use of the Community Center.

Jeanne Hartmann, a watercolorist and member of the artisans group, said the Community Center, which was dedicated on July 4, 2007, was part of the plan to rebuild Summerhaven after the 2003 Aspen Fire destroyed part of the town.

"We're kind of getting things back together up here," said Hartmann, who works at the visitors' center.

Events like the art fair help attract visitors, said Logan: "They're not going to come up here if there isn't something to do." Besides, she said, "Everyone likes a little shopping."

Though Hartmann and a group of artist friends have held fairs on Mount Lemmon in the past, this is the first year that the newly formed Mount Lemmon Artisans have hosted.

"We're just starting out," said Logan, adding that artists based on the mountain will display their work alongside those from Tucson and other nearby areas.

Admission is free. --K.S.

Desperate Housewives at Reid Park

Shakespeare Under the Stars presents "The Merry Wives of Windsor"
8 p.m., Fridays-Sundays, June 20-22 and June 27-29
DeMeester Outdoor Performance Center
Reid Park, Near 22Nd Street and Country Club Road

Shakespeare's only play written for the middle class is returning to Reid Park for the 21st annual Shakespeare Under the Stars event, sponsored by Tucson Parks and Recreation.

The productions are free and appropriate for all ages, said Mary F. Glenn, the play's director.

"Shakespeare was meant to be seen and heard, not read," Glenn said. "It's a 411-year-old play, but the basic human elements in it still apply today."

Glenn wanted to direct a play that included "decent women's roles," and one that could be adapted into a more modern setting--so this Merry Wives of Windsor takes place in the 1980s in a fictional town called Whatho, Ariz. The main characters all live in the Windsor Palms Trailer Court.

"(The play) is all about excess and always wanting more," Glenn said. "I thought the 1980s were just perfect for that."

All the artists in the performance are volunteers. After making it through the audition process, the actors went through eight weeks of rehearsals leading up to the performances.

"I'm fortunate to have such a good group of actors," Glenn said. "It's a mix of artists who want to keep their hand in (acting)."

Despite the summer temperatures, previous Shakespeare Under the Stars performances have drawn crowds of nearly 3,000 people, Glenn said.

"The people who actually live here over the summer tend to hunker down during the day and then hit the streets at night," Glenn said. "It's cooler in the park; there's a breeze every night."

Audience members are encouraged to bring a blanket, as grass is the only seating. --C.E.

Celebrating the Sun

Marking the Solstice: A Multicultural Celebration
4:30 to 9:30 p.m., Saturday, June 21
Arizona State Museum
University Boulevard and Park Avenue
626-2973; statemuseum.arizona.edu

Looking for an excuse to celebrate another obscure holiday? Thanks to the Arizona State Museum, Tucsonans are invited to recognize the longest day of the year with the eighth annual Marking the Solstice: A Multicultural Celebration.

A variety of music and dance groups will perform in front of the museum on an outdoor stage powered by solar energy.

Hip-hop dance and music will be offered by The Human Project (not to be confused with the traveling exhibit of plastic-encased corpses or the group of infertility researchers in Children of Men), a dance troupe whose goal is to use their poppin' and lockin' moves to promote discussions of racism, diversity and prejudice. They will take the stage at 5:15 p.m. Also included in the dance lineup are the Aztec-style Danza Mexica Cuauhtemoc at 4:30 p.m., and Flamenco Sonora at 6 p.m.

The Molehill Orkestrah, a gypsy-style band that draws its inspiration from the desert, will play at 7:30 p.m., followed by Japanese drumming group Fushicho Daiko at 8:15 p.m.

Also on the agenda: interactive exhibits where participants can learn about solar energy, desert resources, astronomy and Native American and Mexican culture. Attendees will also have the opportunity to make crafts, including sun prints, clay pots, Mexican paper flowers and Indian henna art. The hands-on activities target children, but Darlene Lizarraga, marketing coordinator for the museum, noted: "More and more, we see adults sitting down and doing (them)."

If you like fire--and who doesn't?--check out Flam Chen, who will end the night with fire tricks, dancing and stilt acrobatics to the Celtic tunes of the Seven Pipers Scottish Society at 9 p.m.

Admission and parking are free. --K.S.


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