Pick of the Week

High Time for Low Tide

It's November--not really the month most people around here think about Rocky Point and the beach. But Puerto Peñasco, Mexico, is a lot more than a spring break destination. It's also the home of CEDO, the Intercultural Center for the Study of Deserts and Oceans, a research institute located in a big building right on the shore where the town of Puerto Peñasco meets the Gulf of California.

CEDO, known to the Mexicans as "el Centro Intercultural de Estudios de Desiertos y Oceános," has been operating since the early '80s. It began as a basic science-research center and field station that worked through a partnership between Sonora and the University of Arizona, which were together engaged in a commercial shrimp mariculture venture in the Puerto Peñasco region. Eventually, the shrimp project left the area, but CEDO stayed put and continued its research on marine and coastal environments.

Today, CEDO has evolved into an environmental organization working with the Puerto Peñasco community to understand and preserve the ecological processes of the northern gulf and surrounding Sonoran Desert. Besides doing research and conservation, the center offers education programs to the international public as well as to schools from the United States and Mexico. They're unique, because they try to incorporate the traditional knowledge of local people into their scientific perspective.

CEDO is probably the longest-standing environmental organization working in the Gulf of California. In fact, its members are about to celebrate its 25th anniversary, and wanted to throw a big party. But currently, the area is being invaded by developers, who threaten both the natural environment CEDO is concerned with and the CEDO facilities themselves. One developer in particular wants to remove the main entry road leading to CEDO, and others are making plans to build around important coastal wetland estuaries like Estero Morúa, where CEDO conducts much of its research. All of this makes planning a celebration down there pretty difficult--not to mention depressing.

So, CEDO decided to move the party to Tucson, where the organization has a lot of connections through schools, groups and individuals. They've also turned the event into a fundraiser to support the conservation of Estero Morúa and also to help bulk up their legal fund so they can defend their facilities from developers.

The main draw of the Tucson celebration--dubbed "Low Tide in Tucson" and hosted by Blue Raven Gallery and Gifts--will be Treasures of the Sea, an ocean-themed art show featuring work in all types of media by at least a dozen artists. The work will include abstract, emotion-centered watercolors by San Franciscan Melinda Masi; whimsical sea life sculptures by Katie Iverson; underwater photography by a variety of local artists; an intaglio of a jellyfish called "Medusa" by master printer and educator Marvin Lowe; and a colorful abstract by local Navajo artist Glory Tacheenie-Campoy that explores the essence of kelp. All the work will be for sale, and a portion of the proceeds will benefit CEDO. More art, like a bronze sculpture by Tucsonan Mark Rossi, will be featured in a silent auction, along with a wide variety of other items, from a vacation rental of a Puerto Peñasco beach house to smaller prizes like restaurant gift certificates, bilingual children's books and natural history books.

As far as entertainment goes, "Low Tide in Tucson" will be both educational and enjoyable. CEDO's founding directors Peggy and Rick Boyer will give a "low-tide slide show" of fascinating ocean-themed pictures they've taken over the years, and a PowerPoint presentation will be set up for the public to view at their leisure. Live music will be provided by Bwiya-Toli, a Tucson-based, three-piece folk band that plays Andean and Mexican music with at least eight different Latin American instruments; dinner will be provided by La Indita Restaurant, which specializes in homestyle Mexican cooking with a Tohono O'odham twist.

"People should come to 'Low Tide in Tucson'" Peggy Boyer says, "because it will be (a) great time, great music and good people gathering to do something positive for our cultures and environment. It feels good to be a part of something like this, where the spirit of all involved is to contribute and to help out. ... The moral support is just as important--if not more so--than the financial support. This is CEDO's first Tucson celebration, and it gives us all an opportunity to celebrate the deserts and oceans together."

The "Low Tide in Tucson" fundraiser will take place from 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18, at Blue Raven Gallery and Gifts (3054 N. First Ave.). Admission is $15, including dinner and drinks. Treasures of the Sea will be on view through Saturday, Dec. 2. Gallery hours are 1 to 5 p.m., Friday; and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday. Call 320-5473 for more information.