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Inside the Artist's Studio 

Dozens of artists open their doors to the public this weekend

Glory Tacheenie-Campoy grew up in the Navajo Nation, near Marble Canyon, Ariz., not far from the Utah border.

"My mother was an herbalist, and I grew up collecting flowers," she said last week. The artist's mother died four years ago, but images of those long-ago plants sometimes end up in her daughter's paintings and prints. Tacheenie-Campoy's works, which recently have veered into the 3-D with works of paper woven into chicken wire, evoke memories of her childhood, and sometimes tackle current issues.

She shows in galleries all around the country. Right now, she's in an exhibition in the Ellis Island Museum in New York City, along with seven other female Native American artists. Focusing on "Lady Liberty as a Native American icon," the show remains up through Jan. 8, 2006.

But Tucsonans don't have to go to the Big Apple to see Tacheenie-Campoy's art. She's one of more than 100 local artists opening up their studios this weekend in the Open Studio Tour staged by the Tucson-Pima Arts Council. Tacheenie-Campoy has a brand-new 800-foot studio outside her house in the Tucson Mountains, at 1970 N. Calle del Suerte.

A replacement for an art cubbyhole that was the "size of three large tables, off the kitchen," the new studio is bigger, with high ceilings. For the studio tour, Saturday and Sunday afternoon, she'll have one big wall covered with her woodcuts, etchings, monoprints, acrylic paintings on canvas, and paper weavings. She'll put out various printing plates, to help visitors understand the complex printing processes, and she'll have her monoprint press up and running.

"I will also do prints demos, maybe once an hour, depending on who comes," she says. "People can see what a print is--it's not a poster."

The popular studio tours have been going on in one guise or another since the late '80s. They used to feature only downtown artists, working in hip urban warehouses. Since last year, when the arts council took over the operation, the tours have expanded to include artists at every compass point in town. Now there are scenic desert locations like Tacheenie-Campoy's, as well as gritty midtown compounds and even a Green Valley address.

"We have more artists outside downtown this year," says Mary Ann Ingenthron, director of the arts council. "They're excited to be participating. It's fun to see what artists do with their own space."

Also new this year is a preview exhibition of work, capped by a formal opening reception Friday night. The work will be on display this week and during the tour afternoons in ArtFare, a multi-studio building on Sixth Avenue near Toole Avenue, across from the Ronstadt Transit Center. Its artists were displaced from Muse, the West University art space in a former Y now turning condo. They've set up shop in the building and changed their name to ArtFare.

"They're still developing the space, but there are a few artists in there," Ingenthron said. "They don't have as much space as they had at the Y but it's not insignificant, about 15,000 square feet."

Ingenthron said the burgeoning number of artists overall testifies to Tucson's continuing status as an arts haven.

"There's a sense of optimism in the arts community now. It's relatively easy to get connected. The availability of space to work, in downtown warehouses and elsewhere, at reasonable prices" is a draw. And so is the "inspiration of the physical environment. Tucson is a special place to live."

A Web site listing and map (www.tucsonpimaartscouncil.org) divide the studios up into six regions--Downtown, South, Central, West, North and East. Here's a sampling.

Downtown. Extending from the Splinter Group studios at 13th Avenue and West Second Street, to painter Andrea Dorsey Simmons' space at 118 S. Fifth Ave., Downtown offers 21 studios to visit. The Historic Steinfeld Warehouse, 101 W. Sixth St., showcases ceramicist David Aguirre and painter Betina Fink. The Industrial Arts Warehouse, 127 W. Fifth St., boasts glass artist Jamie Acklin, furniture artist Luon St. Pierre, painter Liz Vaughn and the clay artists of the Muse Pottery School.

In the Seventh Avenue Arts District Studios, at 549 N. Seventh Ave., in West University, Dirk Arnold crafts scale model miniatures of what he calls "Tucson's endangered architecture."

"I was always attracted to the Tucson Warehouse Transfer Building," on Sixth Street at Seventh Avenue, he said. "I thought, I could build one side of it, put it in a shadowbox frame and call it art."

A trained architect who never practiced, Arnold started making the models after he was laid off from a software company. His architectural works, meticulously crafted in wood, matboard, plastic and paint, are accurate renditions of the buildings in their glory days. For the studio tour, he'll show models of the UA's Old Main, the Confucian Temple on Sixth Street and a Philadelphia mansion, commissioned by a client. He's also branched out into old-time signs, creating photo-magnets of the inventive neon adorning such Tucson landmarks as the Tiki and the No-Tel motels.

"Everybody wants the No-Tel Motel," he said.

South. This 21-stop region takes in the Tom Philabaum glass studio at 711 S. Sixth Ave., the UA grad studios at 820 E. 16th St., Armory Park glass artist Janet K. Miller at 522 S. Fifth Ave., the Carlton Star ceramics gallery at 1416 S. Sixth Ave., near 24th Street, and others. Roy Purcell, a painter-printmaker-sculptor, promises to print etchings, paint paintings and read poetry for those who make the trek south to his Green Valley studio.

Watercolorist Jean Sharp Beck said she and the 15 artists working in the Labor Temple, 267 S. Stone Ave., were surprised to find themselves classified as southsiders.

"We're right behind the Temple of Music and Art," she said. First a car dealership and then a union hall, the Labor Temple now hosts a yoga studio and an African import business, in addition to the artists. One of the few plein-air painters in the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild, Beck said she likes to paint historic buildings as well as landscapes.

"I'll be showing my original paintings, as well as digital prints and laser prints," she said. "I might try to put out the paints and do a demo."

Central. This district goes from Limberlost Drive and First Avenue, where painter Acacia Alder makes impressionistic acrylics and pastels at 232 E. Limberlost Drive, south to the silk-painting studio of Martine Dupuch, at 2401 E. Sixth St., in Sam Hughes. The 18 open studios include Joy L. Holdread's Geronimo Arts Collective right in the middle, at 2625-2627 N. Geronimo Ave.

Ceramic and clay artist Holdread has invited three other artists to display their wares in her space. Mary Ker makes sun faces fired in Raku, yielding "very beautiful iridescent effects," Ker says. Michelle Kulp fashions "extraordinary" gold, silver and copper jewelry, and Marlena Allen creates beaded jewelry. The quartet of artists will provide wine, coffee, iced tea, cookies and snacks.

East. Among the nine studios open in the Catalina Foothills and on the eastside, Mary Cate Carroll gets the prize for the art space closest to the rising sun, 2781 N. Lone Dove Trail. She'll do demos and offer up refreshments and do demos of oil paintings, etchings and drawings.

West. Besides Tacheenie-Campoy, the westside features seven other studios. Abstract painter Roz Eppstein makes her acrylics and collages at home at 6441 N. Abington Road, north of Sunset Road and close to Saguaro National Park.

North. Just seven studios welcome guests in the far northwest side. Risa Waldt, clear up in Catalina, shows off her multiple media, and promises "interactive activities every hour on the hour" at the end of an "easy-travel dirt road."

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