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Best Art Gallery
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Best Local Artist/Performing

Mat Bevel

READERS' PICK: How to describe sculptor and performance artist Mat Bevel in mere words...Now there's a challenge. See, you really need colored lights. And a lot of moving parts. In fact, you need parts that look like they haven't moved in years and could never move again, and then they need to move, these found-object parts that've been painted and reassembled and mounted to the ceiling, or the wall, or someone's head, or perhaps pedaled around the floor of a very large warehouse space just north of downtown. Make that a dark warehouse--with colored lights, remember--and building facades with stage doors and faux windows, and an elevated stage smack dab in the middle of it all. And into this whole kinetic environment, you need to add an orchestra that's mostly invisible, but with a really odd-looking bass that's maybe wheeled in (we're not sure about that part, but suffice to say it's unlike any electric bass you've ever seen). Maybe after all that, words would suffice. But it'd have to be a rapid-fire barrage of them, one atop the next in a rhyming, rap-like toast to all that is silly and serious and fun and unexpected and meaningful, in the way that waking up from a really revelatory dream might be: You're not sure you get it, but it's changed the way you look at things, somehow. All that, and it has to be delivered by a sometimes-solemn, shiny-headed, post-modern prophet who's sort of like the Tom Hanks character in Big. Just maybe then you'd have an idea of what Mat Bevel, a.k.a. Ned Schaper, is all about. Or at least partially about. (The Mat Bevel Institute is located at 530 N. Stone Ave.)

READERS' POLL RUNNER-UP--TIE: Linda Ronstadt needs no introduction, of course; but if the name Mary Redhouse is new to you, make a note of it. A fine and powerful vocalist who's been a heavy-hitter on the Tucson jazz scene for years, Redhouse is a regular on the Café Sweetwater weekend stage, where she plays with kin and kindred spirits in the Larry Redhouse Quartet (LRQ).

CLUE IN: The Tap Dancing Lady on Stone Avenue, usually near the intersection of North Stone and Pennington Street, is a mystery all right. For years, as we've done our shopping, banking and business downtown, she's been there, tap-dancing on the sidewalk to music played on a little boombox. She often wears black and white, topping it off with a sassy black bowler hat. We've never seen her ask for money. Is it possible she does it for the sheer joy of dancing? We can only guess. All clues point to the fact that this sweet tap dancer is the truest of true performance artists--one who pursues her craft with dedication to the principles of art for art's sake, as well as perfection in its execution. If you can find her, it'll usually be before the heat of the day takes the starch out of us all. Some mysteries don't need solving. They just need to be appreciated.

Case History

1997 Winner: Lisa Otey
1996 Winner: Linda Ronstadt
1995 Winner: Mary Redhouse

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