"What's in Your Name?"
10 a.m., Saturday, July 25
Joel D. Valdez Main Library
101 N. Stone Ave.
A rhyme: In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue—but was Columbus a Sephardic Jew?
The answer is yes, claims Edna San Miguel, who started Tucson's Sephardic Anusim Heritage Center.
Shortly after Columbus set sail, San Miguel explains, Spanish Jews were forced to leave Spain, causing many to head for Mexico and the Americas, where they thrived—until the Inquisition.
During the Inquisition, she says, they scattered further north, to places like Arizona, Texas and even Nebraska.
All of this moving and hiding caused many to lose touch with their Jewish traditions and heritage, she says—and the center aims to put people back in touch with that heritage.
San Miguel, who has been conducting this kind of research for the last 25 years, started the Sephardic Anusim Heritage Center not only to identify Spanish last names with their roots as Jewish last names, but also to help people find their relatives and family history.
"What I do is I teach about the whereabouts of lost family members since inquisition times," she says.
According to San Miguel, research into Sephardic Judaism has also become popular in states like New Mexico and Texas, as well as countries like Mexico and Peru.
While she often gets calls from people in Nogales, Sierra Vista and beyond from people asking her to help them find their relatives, San Miguel also gives public lectures about history, like this weekend's "What's in Your Name?" lecture.
The lecture, which is the first in a series, will focus on last names that end in 'ez' or 'es' like Martinez, Rodriguez or Morales—which, she claims, are all Sephardic Jewish last names.
The lecture is free. Call 269-8057 for more information. —A.B.
7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, July 25
On display 1 to 5 p.m., Friday and Saturday, through Saturday, Sept. 12
Raices Taller 222 Gallery
218 E. Sixth St.
Monsoon season has most certainly arrived, and to celebrate the rainy weather, Raices Taller 222 Gallery is introducing a new exhibition dedicated to all things water.
"You can expect painting, sculpture, photography, mixed media—all about water," explains artist John Salgado. He says that the exhibit will not be limited to just the monsoon facet of water; everything from the peaceful patter of rain to tumultuous seas will be represented.
The show will feature about 25 artists, and will open with a free reception on Saturday. While many of the artists—including David Tineo—have deep roots in Tucson, others hail from Phoenix and Southern California.
As this is the gallery's ninth annual monsoon exhibition, the show itself has become a tradition, says Salgado, with artists particularly excited to show what they have created each year. Each artist has had the chance to interpret the concept of "water" and incorporate it into his or her own art. Elise Deringer Wendte will be showing a large fabric sculpture, for example.
Salgado says that Raices Taller "actually formed as a protest," because there were so many Latino artists in Tucson who couldn't get their work shown. For 12 years, the cooperative gallery has been dedicated to showing the work of minorities and others who have been underrepresented by the arts community. Although the gallery started as a way to promote Latino artists, Salgado says, "We show everybody."
As an educational nonprofit organization, the gallery provides opportunities for young and emerging artists to show their work alongside more established artists, and actively helps them find ways to get their name out into the art world. —S.J.
2 to 8 p.m., Saturday, July 25
347 E. Fourth St.
It's not as if you really need another reason to love Fourth Avenue, considering all of its funky shops and fantastic restaurants—but now you'll have one more incentive to visit the heart of Tucson every month.
This week will offer what is slated to be the first in a new monthly series of street-fair events that will support the creation and maintenance of a new downtown community center. Jacqueline Pollard, coordinator of the Artisans Farm, says this will be a "launching event" for the new community center that will include a low-key Internet café, spaces to host community meetings and an art gallery showing the work of local artists. She describes the community center at 347 E. Fourth St. as a "work in progress," and hopes these events will help fund the center's grand opening.
Already, the house at Fourth Street and Fourth Avenue has hosted video-game conferences and tournaments; more events are planned for October. But Pollard wants the center to be a real place for community.
"We've got a lot of room to grow," she says. "The Fourth Avenue Street Fair just doesn't suffice."
She explains that Tucson needs another outlet for its artists, and the Artisans Farm is here to solve that problem. This event is meant to be just the first step in making the community center and street fairs the solution. "We've always been open to embracing the community and other people's passions," she says. "We're advocating putting your passions on the line."
Throughout the event, bands will be playing on the porch, while other local artists, crafters, musicians, gardeners and farmers will be there to show and share their talents. Pollard says vendors are welcome to sign up until the 24th. —S.J.
"Christmas in July" Party
9 p.m., Friday, July 24
311 E. Congress St.
Christmas: It's a time for togetherness and enjoying the company of friends and family. It comes complete with mistletoe and, of course, Santa Claus. But who says it can only come once a year?
Here in Tucson, we know during the summer that when the weather outside is frightful, we're most certainly not looking for a delightful fire inside. Instead, we're looking for Club Congress' annual Christmas in July Party—and its time has finally come.
"It's always insane fun," says booking director David Slutes, and he claims this year will be no exception.
Slutes explains that this is the 29th party of its kind. The event will be hosted by DJ Pony Girl and will feature several local bands, including Molehill Orkestrah and Feel Good Revolution. Tucson's Cirque du Sin will be on hand, providing their particular brand of burlesque. Slutes says Al Perry will also be in attendance (portraying Santa himself) and says that there will be eggnog specials all night.
Club Lyfestile, a massive DIY dance troupe from Philadelphia, will also be putting on a Christmas-themed show. Slutes finds the troupe's style a bit difficult to define, but says they're something like "indie rock, but as dance." In any case, he promises that they will be "really freaking entertaining."
In past years, Club Congress has asked that guests bring a gift for a game of white elephant, but Slutes says they won't be doing so this year. However, giving is always better than receiving, and Club Congress will be once again giving Tucson what Slutes calls a "ridiculous and really fun night" in July.
Admission to the party is $5. —S.J.