Arts and Culture

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

MOCA Monster Drawing Rally Benefit

Posted By on Wed, Jul 17, 2019 at 9:55 AM

The Museum of Contemporary Art is hosting a monster drawing rally Friday, July 26 from 6-9 p.m. 50 local artists will gather to live draw their own monster. So what is a monster? Does it have fangs? Is it faceless? Each artist's interpretation will be available for purchase for $50 each, all proceeds benefiting MOCA Tucson.
  • Courtesy Portland Art Museum
It's a great opportunity to see the creative process in action, connect with local artists, and support the Tucson art scene.

There will be an open cash bar, food trucks, and DJ Nathan Lovelady will be playing fresh beats.

When: Friday, July 26, 6-9 p.m.
Where: MOCA Tucson
265 S Church Ave
Tucson, AZ 85701
Cost: $5 admission

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Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Gentlemen Afterdark Land On Stranger Things Soundtrack

Posted By on Wed, Jul 10, 2019 at 10:04 AM

Gentlemen Afterdark tie-up Alice Cooper. - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Gentlemen Afterdark tie-up Alice Cooper.
Hearts pounding—having just sprinted the half-mile from the neighborhood 7-Eleven back to a rented band house, near 22nd Street and Alvernon Way—they arrive in a panic, rooster manes disheveled after a routine beer run gone awry. Brian Smith, then frontman for Gentlemen Afterdark, explains, “We got hassled for how we looked, of course. This pair of rednecks in a small pickup truck chased us home, hell-bent to cave our skulls in.”

The saga continues: “When we got there, Winston [Watson], the smallest kid in the band, pulled out this authentic looking BB gun pistol and ran out the door screaming bloody murder. Out on the street he took this hilarious cop stance with legs apart and pointed the toy gun, his elbows straight, at those rednecks in the pickup. They freaked and ducked and skidded the hell out of there.”

This and so many incidents similar served as inspiration for “Open the Door." A song recorded 36 years ago—now enjoying an uncanny resurgence after finding placement on the season premiere of Netflix’s Stranger Things, starring Winona Ryder and David Harbour. And this season is red-hot. The third installment of the nostalgic horror series is the new Netflix four-day streaming champion; 40.7 million households watched over the long Fourth of July weekend.

Truth being stranger than fiction. Who would’ve ever imagined?

Gentlemen Afterdark—this arresting combination of New York Dolls glam/punk, ‘80s New Romanticism and the trash and grit scrapped from the sidewalks—were led by singer Brian, his brother Barry Smith on keyboards and violin, guitarist Robin Johnson, bassist Fred Cross and Winston Watson behind the drum kit.

Dancing on the crumbling precipice of fame, in 1984 they were vaunted by People magazine as “Stars of the Future.” The piece included a quote by rock legend Alice Cooper, a mentor who had taken the Gents under his wing.

“They reminded me of when I was young.” Cooper quipped, “I told them to have my daughter back by 7:30 p.m.”

In spite of such accolades Gentlemen Afterdark struggled to safely traverse the intersection where art and commerce converged.
Gentlemen Afterdark - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • Gentlemen Afterdark

Produced by Cooper and Dick Wagner, “Open the Door,” written by Robin and Brian, is from their 1983 EP. Originally self-released on vinyl, recorded at Vintage Recorders (Phoenix) in sessions which Barry Smith describes as being tense:

“[We were] young and hungry—pop music was exploding in all directions: Rap, post-punk, new wave. New sounds and energy were badly needed. But tension came from musical culture clashes. They wanted us to go with a safe sound of much of the pop music back then.”

Low on self-confidence, a shaky-voiced Brian found himself facing his musical idol through the studio glass, toiling to lay down the vocal track.

A now-sober Brian says, “My voice sounded so constricted here. I was so fucking terrified because, well, that was Alice Cooper. And Dick Wagner, who played guitar with Lou Reed. Those guys wrote 'Only Women Bleed' together. But my band was amazing, they were so young and gifted."

But what does this triumph mean to you now? “It’s very cool,” Barry says. “It comes at a perfect time...Gives a certain spiritual boost to my confidence.” Kid brother Brian says, “It is hard to get my head around the idea of that terrified voice now soundtracking a Winona Ryder scene in an episode of one of the most popular TV shows on earth. But I am really grateful for the song placement. There is something about this song, this sound of kids trying to find a sound. That struggle sounds pretty damn interesting now."

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Saturday, July 6, 2019

In The Limelight | Birds and Arrows

Posted By on Sat, Jul 6, 2019 at 11:18 AM

...all that remains is the debris trail. - XAVIER OMAR OTERO
  • Xavier Omar Otero
  • ...all that remains is the debris trail.
Like Aves filling their four-chambered hearts with joy, soaring where the clouds of emotion no longer obscure the clear sight of the soul, Birds and Arrows shoot bolts of deliverance with courage as they move forward.

They formed in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2007. After releasing four full-length albums and critically-acclaimed EPs—this husband and wife duo's songs appear on compilations with Jeff Tweedy, Yo La Tengo, Ryan Adams' Whiskeytown and the mythic Big Star—having outgrown their genesis as a quiet folk act, Andrea and Pete Connolly came to shed their skin under the desert sun, peeling away the old atop metamorphic rock, to allow further growth.

Recorded in Tucson’s Dust and Stone Studios, produced by Gabriel Sullivan, Arbitrary Magic (Baby Gas Mask Records, 2018) marks a sea change in vision and attitude.

“Yes, Arbitrary Magic was a departure. But, true to all of our biggest influences,” says Andrea Connolly. “I’d say this is our new direction—finding a balance between energetic, hard hitting Rock ‘n’ Roll and melodic, harmony based song craft.”

Recently, Birds and Arrows premiered their latest video, “Animatronic Heart,” to a small but enthusiastic crowd. Outfitted with knee pads and a heart shaped pendant dangling from a chain around her neck, frontwoman Andrea Connolly, with drummer Pete Connolly’s relentless poundings—and guitarist Ben Nisbet sitting in—utterly demolished Wooden Tooth Records.

Andrea Connolly says of the video, directed by Tyler Lidwell, “As far as ‘Animatronic Heart’ goes—that song was influenced by taking care of Pete's dad, the last few years.” A significant factor behind the couple’s decision to relocate to Tucson. “It's a pretty heavy subject about life, aging and our interconnectedness.” In comparison to the seven other rollicking tracks on the album, “Animatronic Heart” is the exception. “So, to add some levity, we thought it would be an interesting/humorous juxtaposition to have the video reference a classic action movie, like Terminator 2.”
Here is the other side of the coin.

When asked if politics ever seep into the lyrics of Birds and Arrows songs, Andrea Connolly is quick to rebound. “Yes, definitely. ‘Overloaded’ is very political. Influenced by all the shit that is happening along the border. As is, the song ‘Stay Down.’ It’s about violence against women. It’s hard to not let all that come through in our writing. If at times, on this record, we seem a little pissed off...It’s because we were.”

Catch Birds and Arrows on Saturday, July 20th at Che’s Lounge.

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Last Chance: See Painter Rachel Nelson's Studio at Saturday's Art Walk

Posted By on Sat, Jul 6, 2019 at 10:27 AM

  • Courtesy of Rachel Nelson
Painter Rachel Nelson works with acrylic paints and encaustic, or hot wax painting. Her paintings are emotive and human, stories told through texture and color. They are sometimes bubbly or dimpled, shattered or scratched.

Since June 2017, Nelson has had a studio in the Steinfeld building where she has created many of her pieces, and taught art therapy classes.

Every first Saturday of the month, she has welcomed the public to see her work in progress and finished. This coming art walk, on Saturday, July 6, Rachel will host her last showing in her studio.

Come see her work as well as the other artists who have studios in the Steinfeld building. The First Saturday Art Walk is hosted by the Central Tucson Gallery Association and includes other galleries as well.

Located at the Steinfeld Warehouse Community Arts Center, 101 W. 6th Street on Saturday, July 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. Free. 

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Friday, July 5, 2019

Collage Artist Tony Kuchar hangs his kaleidoscopic art at Tiny Town

Posted By on Fri, Jul 5, 2019 at 3:09 PM

Tony Kuchar sequesters himself among piles of vintage magazines from the 1940s through the 1980s in his studio, a pair of scissors in hand. He sifts through the pages, looking for an image he likes. 
  • Courtesy
"Making collage art is a very meditative experience for me," Kuchar says. "Which his probably why I enjoy it so much. I don't think or plan any piece in advance, I just find a scrap that I like and start building off of it with other scraps. No expectations, no destination. I turn my brain off and just make an art  piece that I find pleasing to look at or that speaks to me in some way. It's very therapeutic."

His recent work plays on recurring images - hands, eyes, a face. It's fragmented and kaleidoscopic.

This month, he will be hanging his work at the Tiny Town Gallery on 4th Ave. The small gallery space will host about 20 collages, all framed and for sale. The works range in size from 2"x3" to 15" by 16".

He will also be hosting a live collaging station in the space on July 12 during his art show reception. The station will be full of magazines, paper, glue, scissors, knives, etc., to collage along with Kuchar while he works through his creative process.

Tiny Town is located at 408 N. 4th Ave.
The reception and the store are open to the public, free of charge.

View Kuchar's art on Instagram at

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Friday, June 28, 2019

Live Theatre Workshop Family Season Preview

Posted By on Fri, Jun 28, 2019 at 2:53 PM


In the theatre business, you hear a lot about doing it for the love of art or as a passion project. For Amanda Gremel, the Live Theatre Workshop Family Theatre is certainly a passion project, but isn’t just a love for the art; rather, it’s a calling and an obligation to future generations that she is only too happy to fulfill.

Gremel’s life is steeped in Live Theatre Workshop. As a teen, she discovered her love of acting in their educational programs. As an adult, she pays it forward as a teacher in the same educational programs where she got her start, acts regularly and is the artistic director for the Family Theatre.

While theatre for all ages is often shorter and lighter than productions rated for adults, it is no less important.

“So many times, adults underestimate the power of kids to show us the way,” Gremel explained. “Sometimes we have to stop and take a moment and look at it through their eyes to be reminded that we can problem solve our way, can feel what we do, and it’s okay. Adults get wrapped up in our lives and forget that it’s okay to take that time to laugh.”

Read more about Live Theatre Workshop Family Theatre' 2019-2020 season at

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Doing Bad Things with Seanloui

Posted By and on Fri, Jun 21, 2019 at 10:56 AM

  • Courtesy

It factor? Possessing a certain je ne sais quoi, on “Bad Things,” Seanloui’s latest joint, this French-American’s voice is suggestive of Usher, yet with a grit and cadence all his own. If his funky/scratchy guitar riffs could travel in time, they would bounce straight off C'est Chic (Atlantic Records, 1978). The R&B/Euro pop beats, airtight. And the production shines bright enough to make chart toppers adjust their Ray-Bans to stave off the glare. This dance track is simply wicked.

Music contributors Xavier Omar Otero and Ambur Wilkerson both chatted with Seanloui ahead of his upcoming show.

On Saturday, June 22, Seanloui will be gracing Thunder Canyon Brewery with "Bad Things Live."

Ambur asked:

Why did you name the show Bad Things Live?

It’s based off the new single that is dropping on June 21 called “Bad Things.”

Tell us about the new single? What's it about? What was the inspiration behind it?

The new single "Bad Things" is based on the French revolution of 1789. That all good revolutions start in the summer. It's a story on how that same type of revolution could begin in modern times.

Xavier asked:

What are you revolting against?

Not so much revolting. But I want to show that there is beauty in chaos.

Can music change the world or just enhance our journey through it?

I think music can enhance the journey...As the people who create it change the world.

How would you like to see the world change? Sorry. I ask hard questions sometimes…

[Laughing] No, not at all. I would like to see the world change through unity. That’s the only way we can make it change.

Back to Ambur:

Will you be playing any new music?

YES! We’ll be doing some new songs as well as some alternate versions of some favorites.

What is your favorite song to perform live and why?

I love the song "Human" cause it’s such a great song to jam with the band. Great amazing energy.

What do you want the audience to take with them after this show? How do you want them to feel?

I want them to feel the joy I had when creating the sounds. I want them to take away the thought that we are so much more better together than apart. In essence: Building Community.

Seanloui is fêting the release of his latest single “Bad Things” on Saturday, June 22, 9:30 p.m., at Thunder Canyon Brewstillery, 220 E Broadway Blvd. Phoenix’s alt-fusionists Method to the Madness add to the chaos. The show is free and 21+.

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Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Winding Road Theater Ensemble Season Preview

Posted By on Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 11:42 AM


Winding Road Theater Ensemble aims to produce plays that are entertaining but outside of the box, and always speak to the human condition. The way co-artistic director of Winding Road Maria Caprile says “the human condition”, it sounds like an illness. Not one we need to get over, but one that we all share, and one that we can manage better by experiencing it together. This season at Winding Road explores life’s harder decisions, funny moments, challenges, morals, coping with loss, family dinners and simply surviving.

If she had to choose one show that audiences not miss, it isn’t the trip to the chapel or the family dinner the actors aren’t excused from (not to say those aren’t well worth seeing, obviously); rather, the one she felt we all need to see is a staged reading of The Women of Lockerbie as part of the Winding Read series. Shown in the style of a Greek tragedy, this play revisits the explosion of PanAm 103 over Lockerbie in 1988.

“That was so long ago and so much has happened, is this going to resonate?” Caprile said, wondering if it would be a good fit for modern audiences. “But it isn’t about the incident. It is about grief. And how this keeps happening. And how we deal with it. You can’t just ignore it. It isn’t about PanAm 103, it’s about public grief.”

In this day and age, and maybe in every age, grief is one part of the human condition that we need each other more than any other to understand, process, and, with time, overcome.

Read more about this season and Winding Road Theater Ensemble at

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Staff Pick

Arizona State Museum’s Paths of Life: American Indians of the Southwest

This permanent, ongoing, exhibit explores the origins, histories, and contemporary lifeways of ten Native American culture groups… More

@ Arizona State Museum Ongoing, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. 1013 E. University Blvd.

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