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Return to the Wild West

Empire Ranch Roundup and Open House
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1
Empire Ranch
Highway 83 between mileposts 39 and 40, north of Sonoita
(888) 364-2829; empireranchfoundation.org

Is the economic crisis weighing on your mind? Ready to move to Canada if you hear the phrase "hockey mom" one more time?

Then pull up stakes and head out to the annual Empire Ranch Roundup and Open House this Saturday.

The Empire Ranch, in Sonoita, Ariz., is a working ranch that sits on 42,000 acres of the publicly-owned Las Cienegas National Conservation Area. The ranch and its 22-room house were built in the 1870s and have been home to three different ranching families, said Christine Auerbach, administrator of the Empire Ranch Foundation.

"It's a different world, and it's so close to Tucson, it's amazing," Auerbach said. "It's only a 25-minute trip to Sonoita, and it's a different cartography."

The ranch is always open for visitors, but this Saturday is its big celebration, and organizers expect about 1,500 people. In addition to demonstrations of horsemanship, cattle-handling and other ranching skills, there will be music, food and dancing, Auerbach said.

New this year is a series of "Cowboy Conversations," where members of the three families who have lived on the Empire Ranch will be talking about their experiences.

To mark the 20th anniversary of the purchase of the land by the Bureau of Land Management, there will also be a display of pictures of what the land could have looked like had it been developed. (Think Marana or Oro Valley.)

To get there from Tucson, go east on Interstate 10. Take Exit 281, and go south on Route 83 for approximately 18 miles. Go left at the entrance sign for the Las Cienegas Resource Area, between mileposts 40 and 39. Follow the dirt road 3 miles. Admission is $5 per car. --C.C.


Mai Tai Time

UA Archive Ensemble presents a program of Exotica
7:30 p.m., Monday, Nov. 3
UA Crowder Hall
Speedway Boulevard and Park Avenue
621-2998; music.arizona.edu

Imagine yourself drinking a mai tai and listening to the drum beats of a tribal ceremony, as psychedelic lights flash around you. Sounds like a drug-induced hallucinatory state to me.

Keith Pawlak, curator for the UA music archive, would argue otherwise. He says that Exotica, a music genre with influences from "Hawaiian jazz" and African and Aztec tribal ceremonies, evokes strong imagery and emotion.

"It's meant to expose the listeners to images of these faraway places and lands, but it's not meant to be an authentic representation," said Pawlak. "It's impressionist music, but it's not world music."

Never heard of Exotica? That's because the genre lost popularity after it peaked in the '50s.

"Because of globalization, we can easily travel to a place through technology," said Pawlak. "That's made the allure of this music a little bit more difficult to pull off."

But, according to Pawlak, the demand for Exotica is on the rise again, simply because of its strong emotional content.

In celebration, the UA School of Music will present a two-part program with music from Exotica legends Les Baxter and Robert Drasnin.

Although Baxter's musical compositions differ greatly from his 1960 counterpart Drasnin, both artists fall under the Exotica umbrella.

Percussionist instruments will be paired with flutes, a piano, a harp and a vocalist to create a musical arrangement reminiscent of an Aztec religious ceremony or the relaxing lifestyle of tropical islands. Pair that with a psychedelic light show, and you're bound to be in awe.

Tickets cost $9 for general admission, $7 for seniors and UA employees, and $5 for students. --M.N.


Veto Bushisms

The Art of Democracy
On display 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Mondays through Fridays; noon to 3 p.m., Saturdays, through Nov. 21
UA Student Union Gallery
1303 E. University Drive
621-6142

Curator Holly Brown points at a print that reads, "If voting made a difference, it would be made illegal."

Brown claims that print--one in a multitude that makes up The Art of Democracy, a display meant to increase public awareness on prevailing political issues--has been a favorite topic of discussion among viewers.

"People are responding to actual events that are going on, like the war or the Patriot Act," Brown said. "Anyone can have these different views, but I would say that there are (numerous) anti-Bush sentiments and anti-Cheney sentiments."

Brown says the participating artists aren't only focused on promoting (or criticizing) a political party. Take local artist and UA graduate student Chris McGinnis, for example. His painting of a dusty landscape that borders the ocean questions the idea of land ownership, Brown said.

"He wants us to think about how we acquire land and how we identify certain peoples," Brown said. "Whether that's referring to Native Americans or another group, I'm not sure."

Other themes tackled by artists include border issues, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and government surveillance of U.S. citizens.

"Here are artists who are taking an individual issue that they address in their everyday lives, and they have a certain view, so they decided to respond," Brown said. "I think that art is a really powerful way to communicate those ideas.

The coalition of artists that participated in the exhibition intended to offend some and appease others, Brown said--but above all, the artists hoped to increase political dialogue.

For further insight into printmaking, Union Gallery will hold a free workshop on Monday, Nov. 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. To RSVP, please e-mail brownhb@email.arizona.edu. --M.N.


Works for Everyone!

The Micromentalists
Opening reception 6 to 9 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 1
On display noon to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays, through Dec. 3
Lulubell Toy Bodega
439 N. Sixth Ave., Suite 187
622-5858; lulubelltoys.com

The age of "bigger is better" seems to be ending. Big Macs, big cars, big hair--all seem to be on their way out. (Amy Winehouse, take note.) Helping remove the "bigger is better" attitude from the art world is the Micromentalism movement, whose gallery show is arriving in Tucson this Saturday.

Micromentalism is a movement started around 2006 by the late Chicago artist Patrick W. Welch, said artist James J. Patterson. Welch selected the group of about 12 artists who would carry out his vision, which he wrote up in a manifesto.

The artists in the movement work in a variety of genres, including paintings, drawings and photographs. Many of the micromentalists' pieces are small, designed to be easy to carry, display and purchase, Patterson said.

"A large part of the movement is a rejection of 'larger is good,' or the idea that if you make something really huge, you're basically going to get attention," Patterson said. "Scale shouldn't be a factor unless it needs to be."

Smaller price tags are also part of the manifesto. At Micromentalist shows, the art is marked with the number of hours the artist took to make it. To purchase that piece, the buyer multiplies their hourly wage by that number of hours, Patterson explained. For example, an office worker who makes $10 an hour would pay $100 for a 10-hour piece of art, whereas a corporate lawyer making $100 an hour would pay $1,000.

"It lets anybody walk in to the gallery space and have the feeling that they are a collector," Patterson said. "... People can experience that art as an art object rather than a worshiped piece." --C.C.

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