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Fire in the Sky

Perseids Party at Picture Rocks Park
7 to 10 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 12, weather permitting
Picture Rocks Community Center
5615 N. Sanders Road
682-7166

Every year, July 4 brings with it manmade fireworks. August brings a more celestial sort of fireworks, as the Perseids meteor shower reaches its peak on Aug. 11 and 12.

To help expose more people to the annual event, Picture Rocks Community Center is having a meteor-watching party this Tuesday. Albert Lannon, one of the event organizers, says community interaction was the main goal behind the event.

"It was just an idea we had, an excuse for people to get together at an event that doesn't require very much energy or supervision," he says. "The Community Center decided to do a sack dinner, for those who want that, and it's just a way to bring our community together."

Perseids is the most visible meteor shower of the year, the result of a long trail of debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle. The debris from the trail strikes the Earth's atmosphere at more than 100,000 mph--and the small pieces of debris create colorful streaks in the sky.

"(A good time to show up is) 7 o'clock," says Lannon. "I mean, the best viewing for meteors is at 3 or 4 in the morning, but there's usually enough of an early showing to make it worthwhile. .... We're hoping that Park and Rec will turn the lights out, but we haven't got a firm answer on that."

The sky watching is free. Binoculars and telescopes will be on hand, and a bag dinner is $3. Of course, the whole event depends on good weather. --J.G.


Concert as a Curtain Call

Justin Raffa and Friends
3 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9
Rincon United Church of Christ
122 N. Craycroft Road
745-6237

Goodbye, fair Tucson.

After finishing up a master's degree in choral conducting at the UA, Justin Raffa is having a farewell concert with friends this Saturday at the Rincon United Church of Christ. Raffa, a former choir teacher at Bisbee High School, says the idea for the concert goes back to a discussion he had with former student Kendra Bodry.

"Kendra was one of my top students, and she graduated when I finished teaching, so we both ended together," says Raffa. "She's now studying at my alma mater, at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, N.J. Ever since she was accepted, she's wanted to come home and do a program with me and share a stage."

Originally, the concert was only going to take place in Bisbee, but Raffa decided to have another show in Tucson, so that people he knew in the city would be able to see his last concert.

"We billed it as my farewell to Tucson, because the other folks who are in the production are friends of mine from Bisbee," says Raffa. "Most of those names, Tucson folks aren't going to recognize, per se. So for the people who I have relationships with in the performing-arts community, I thought, 'At least if I throw my name out, that'll turn a couple more heads than yahoos from Bisbee.'"

Raffa says the set list for the show is all over the place.

"We put together a real haphazard program," says Raffa. "Kendra's going to do some legit classical solo pieces to demonstrate what she's been doing at ... college. With the rest of the program, we wanted to do pieces that the audience would be familiar with, and then we also like to balance that out with contemporary songs from newer Broadway productions that most people might not be familiar with."

The concert is free. --J.G.


The More Things Change

"house with song"
9 a.m. to 5 p.m., weekdays, Thursday, Aug. 13, to Wednesday, Oct. 8
Joseph Gross Gallery
1020 N. Olive Road
621-4215; valerieconstantino.net

Valerie Constantino takes her art seriously--so seriously that she asked to start her interview with the Tucson Weekly over, out of concern that she wasn't coming across accurately.

Her show, house with song, starts next Thursday at the Joseph Gross Gallery on the UA campus. She describes her exhibition as a combination of many mediums.

"I'm a mixed-media artist, which, to me, means that I work--along with traditional art, like drawing and painting--with all kinds of sound materials and sound objects, and I also work with time media, including video, audio and installation," says Constantino. "This exhibition is a conglomeration of the way that I work across media."

Constantino says that impermanence has been a recurring theme in her artistic work, and that continues with house with song.

"Because of the way I work with mixed media, it involves several themes, one being impermanence and change, because that's what these materials are doing," says Constantino. "Many of the objects that are in the show, and many of the ways that these are presented, are not fixed. In other words, they aren't fixed in the traditions of framed work, work on canvas or work on pedestals. They're situated in ways that have to do with the sight, with the room that they're in. That's the nature of instillation work, or site-specific instillation work. The media itself generates the theme of impermanence and change."

Constantino says that the motivations behind her focus on impermanence include environmental issues, which are becoming more ubiquitous.

The exhibition is free. --J.G.


Learning + Stories + Pool = Awesome

Cool Day at Himmel Park
10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 9
Himmel Park
1035 N Treat Ave.
594-5305; library.pima.gov/locations/himmel

As part of the ongoing birthday celebration for Tucson, Himmel Park is unleashing a hybrid this Saturday that will make both the Toyota Prius and Frankenstein's monster jealous: a combination of storytelling, birthday cake, a piñata, a pool party and a history lesson, all in one event.

The festivities start at the Himmel Park Branch Library, with storytelling by Glenda Bonin, who says she'll include some content related to Tucson's 233rd birthday.

"I'm going to be more entertaining than historic, because I expect there will be a lot of children in the audience," says Bonin. "With that in mind, what I will be doing is touching on history. ... There will be references to the early days in Tucson and facts incorporated, but I'm not going to be teaching; I'm going to be entertaining."

After the storytelling, there's going to be cake and a piñata at the library, followed by a trip to the Himmel Park pool for a swim.

"The pool is a very cool place, because it's one of the oldest (Works Progress Administration) construction sites in Tucson," says Lisa Button, a member of the Sam Hughes Neighborhood Association and one of the coordinators of the event. "There's a woman who's going to come and talk, we hope, who actually was the first woman to swim in the pool. She still lives in the neighborhood, and it was opened in the '30s. She snuck in with her friends the day before it was opened; it's actually a great story. She's going to come and talk, and there'll be an architect who lives in the neighborhood who's going to come and talk about the historical significance (of the pool and pool house)."

The party is free. --J.G.

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