Architecture, Glass Art and Dance

A trio of festivals get Tucson’s fall arts season under way

A packed arts weekend kicks off Friday night with a provocative lecture on the modern architecture created out of the ashes of urban renewal.

"Saving Urban Renewal," the opening talk of Tucson Modernism Week 2015, looks at the new buildings that sprang up after the demolition-style clearance programs of the 60s throughout the U.S.

"Do we turn our backs on an entire group of sites because of their negative associations with what was destroyed, or instead own our past and tell our stories through these places?" the speaker, Adrian Scott Fine, director of advocacy for the Los Angeles Conservancy, asks in press materials.

Fittingly, Fine's talk, at 6 p.m. Friday, will take place in Leo Rich Theater, an intimate space in the massive Tucson Convention Center, built where Tucson's oldest Mexican neighborhood once stood. Like many (but not all) of the Modernism Week events, it's free but you have to make reservations, at

With its spate of lectures, tours, exhibitions, fashion shows and parties over nine days, Modernism Week will be playful as well as serious, expressing the exuberance of Tucson's post-World War II architecture and design. The popular vintage trailer show will be this Saturday and Sunday on the TCC plaza ($10 entry), and there will be multiple free tours of TCC's modernist landscape by Garrett Eckbo. Tucson's own modern architects, from Art Brown to Judith Chaffee, will be celebrated in lectures and tours. See website for all events.

Barrio Vidrio

Tucson has a brand-new arts district: Barrio Vidrio, or Glass Barrio. The freshly minted—or should we say freshly cast?—district will be feted during a day-long party on Saturday.

Philabaum Glass Gallery &Studio, 711 S. Sixth Ave., has long been a mainstay of the now-thriving Five Corners neighborhood south of downtown. Proprietor Tom Philabaum, Tucson's leading glass artist, helped found the nearby Sonoran Glass School at 633 W. 18th Street. Now glass artists Katja Fritzsche and Danny Perkins have joined the mix with their new Barrio Collection, a gallery and studio at 452 S. Stone Ave.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, the Sonoran Glass School artisans will be creating glass pumpkins in the blazing-hot furnace in the glassblowing studio. Visitors can try their hand at the old art, making their own glassware under guidance, for fees ranging from $15 to $85.

From noon to 5 p.m., over at the Barrio Collection, Fritzsche and Perkins will give demos of glass casting and other techniques. And from 2 to 4:30 p.m., Philabaum and friends will be demonstrating their own tricks at the Philabaum studio.

After the busy day of glassmaking, Philabaum opens a new exhibition of the works of Leon Applebaum and Elodie Holmes, with an evening from 5 to 8 p.m. For a complete schedule and map of the day's events, see

The Philabaum opening is part of still another art party. "The Big Picture," featuring multiple openings by members of the Central Tucson Gallery Association, unfurls throughout the evening Saturday. Centered in the north-of-downtown neighborhood of Sixth and Sixth, participants include Davis Dominguez, Raices Taller, Contreras galleries and Conrad Wilde, a bit of an outlier in the Steinfeld Warehouse at 101 W. Sixth. For more info see


Finally, BlakTina-Tucson, a "cutting-edge movement festival," in the words of Tucson's Eva Tessler, brings the work of black and Latino/a choreographers to the stage at ZUZI! Theater on Friday and Saturday nights.

LA choreographer Licia Perea and Tessler, both with the Latina Dance Project, have invited a slew of locals to showcase their work. Among them: Yvonne Montoya of Safos Dance Theatre, Cesar Degollado of ConDanza, Barbea Williams Performing Company, Mele Martinez, Jon McNamara, Abel García, and Anton Smith and Zari Le'on, of Tucson and Los Angeles.

Out-of-towners include LA's Rosa Rodriguez Frasier of LA, New Mexico's Andrea Vazquez, and Yarrow Perea and Will Geusz.

Shows are at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, at ZUZI! Theater in the Historic YWCA, 738 N. Fifth Ave. at University. Tickets $18 general; $15 for students and artists. 629-0237.

A separate contemporary dance concert, a collaboration between Tucson's Artifact Dance Project and local band Tesoro, takes place at the same time as BlakTina. "Immortally Departed" will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday at Artifact's downtown studio at 17 E. Toole Ave. Tickets $15.

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