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Art Behind the Music

Drawings, paintings and plush by Jen Calento, Jessica McVey and Jessie Skriner
Opening reception: 6 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6
Exhibit on display through Wednesday, Dec. 31
Lulubell Toy Bodega
439 N. Sixth Ave., No. 187
622-5858; lulubelltoys.com

This month's art show at Lulubell Toy Bodega will feature three artists who share common threads--in art and in music.

Jen Calento, Jessica McVey and Jessie Skriner are all local musicians who also employ a more hands-on form of art to express themselves.

"They all bring something to the table that you don't see every day," said Amy Del Castillo of Lulubell.

Calento is a longtime musician and artist who combines textures, color and dimensions to make unique paintings and frames for her pieces. When she's not working on her visual art, Calento likes to rock out with her band, The F.A.N.S.S.

After taking a 15-year break from painting, McVey has re-emerged with a savory collection that explores contemporary issues of self-control and consumption in modern-day society: She infuses sugary imagery and mod colors. When she's not painting, McVey plays in Winelord.

Skriner has her own company called the Samaria Project, which produces soft, plush pieces made out of recycled materials, including old T-shirts and jeans. She is also known for restoring everyday items and making kid-friendly pieces.

"I love the challenge of taking an object and making it into something completely different, giving it a new life," Skriner said. "The items I make are things that someone would normally pass up without another thought."

The show is on display through Dec. 31, in case you miss the opportunity to meet the artists during the opening reception on Saturday, Dec. 6. Lulubell is open from noon to 6 p.m., Tuesdays through Saturdays. --T.A.


Gifts That Keep on Giving

St. Michael's Advent International Bazaar
5 to 8 p.m., Saturday, Dec. 6
9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 7
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church
602 N. Wilmot Road
623-3063; stmichael.net

Tucson shoppers will again have the opportunity to buy gifts that keep on giving at the annual St. Michael's Advent International Bazaar.

"(The bazaar) is not trying to be Tucson Meet Yourself or the Tucson Peace Fair, though it has aspects," said Ila Abernathy, the general coordinator of the bazaar. "It's a much smaller event; we want to give people the opportunity to shop without having to go to the hectic mall."

For 14 years, St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church has hosted the bazaar, offering local nonprofits the chance to sell collectibles and make money for people in need around the world.

"We are certainly trying to be very conscious of the fact that this is a tough year for some people," Abernathy said. "There will be $2 and $3 items, and there will be items that range from $60 to $80."

Several groups will participate in the bazaar for the first time this year, including Café Para la Vida Digna, which will be selling coffee to support schools and clinics in Chiapas, Mexico; and Los Desconocidos, which will be selling quilt squares from recycled migrant clothing.

In addition to food, music and a piñata-smashing, the bazaar will feature live music from women's ensemble Mzekala on Saturday; they'll perform traditional music from Balkan countries.

"We love to have them, because they really add to that international flavor, and they don't mind singing over shoppers," Abernathy said.

The International Bazaar offers one of only two opportunities in Arizona to purchase from Ten Thousand Villages, a project that aims to maintain the craft customs of more than 100 artisan groups in 30 developing countries.

Only cash and/or checks will be accepted at the bazaar. --T.A.


Arts, Crafts--and Dog Dancing!

Cat Mountain Station Gala Holiday Art and Craft Fair
9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 7
Cat Mountain Station
2740 S. Kinney Road
578-8795; catmountain@comcast.net

When Constance Meade isn't working on her art, it's not unusual to find her practicing her freestyle dance routines.

With her dog. Meade is part of a freestyle-dog-dancing troupe, where dog and man take the stage together to show off their gravity-defying moves.

Unfamiliar with doggie freestyle? Meade is here to enlighten.

"We've choreographed several roll-overs, spin-arounds and back-ups through the legs," Meade said. "You never know how it's going to turn out, but you do know it's never the same twice."

On Sunday, Meade's canine/dance hobby will merge with her love of art at a fair featuring handmade works by local artists--and a performance by those freestyle dog-dancers.

As for art ... from stained-glass sculpture, to Mexican folk art, to jewelry made from hardware--if you can you name it, this art fair's got it.

Then there's my personal favorite: bicycle embroidery.

"One of the artists embroiders with a sewing machine that's attached to a bicycle," said Meade, who's coordinating the event. "He does all his work right there, in front of his customer."

For those looking to save a few bucks this holiday season, the bicycle artist offers a discount to customers willing to ride his embroidery machine.

"It makes sense to support local artists, especially now, with the economy like it is," Meade said. "Here, you can stretch your dollar a lot further than you could at, say, the mall."

If pedaling for this year's embroidered Christmas sweater and a dog dance-off don't sound like your cup o' tea, you may find solace in the fair's traditional artwork while listening to a performance by a local jazz band.

This event is free and open to all ages. --M.N.


Honoring the Virgin

La Fiesta de Guadalupe
10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 7
DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun
6300 N. Swan Road
299-9191; degrazia.org

While the late Ettore "Ted" DeGrazia is best-known for his depictions of Native Americans in both paintings and sculpture, he also founded the annual Tucson La Fiesta de Guadalupe, according to Susan Vance, marketing director for the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun.

La Fiesta de Guadalupe is a celebration of the feast day of the Virgin of Guadalupe, who, according to the Catholic Church, appeared before Juan Diego, an indigenous man, in Mexico City in 1531.

"After the Virgin appeared, Juan Diego told the bishop, and the bishop asked for proof," Vance said. "When Juan Diego returned to the site on the feast day, he asked for the Virgin, and she gave him roses that he bundled in his tilma (a garment that he was wearing). When he unfurled his tilma, the flowers scattered to the floor, and there appeared an image of the Virgin on his clothing."

In the '50s, DeGrazia built the Mission in the Sun in honor of the Virgin of Guadalupe's feast day. Today, DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun--right next door--honors the Virgin of Guadalupe at the site of DeGrazia's first La Fiesta de Guadalupe.

Festivities will include a variety of performances, traditional Southwestern foods (Indian fry bread = yum!) and a procession that simulates "looking for lodging for the Christ child," Vance said.

Every hour, a new performance will be held on the main stage.

"My favorites are the ballet folklorico and the procession," Vance said. "They are so colorful, and the children are so charming and professional. It really showcases the talent we have in our community."

This event is free with the donation of a canned food item for the Community Food Bank.

If the parking lot is full, shuttles will be provided from the Skyline Office Plaza, at 6262 N. Swan Road. --M.N.

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