Art Cruisin'

Saturday night's Summer Art Cruise features fewer galleries but plenty of art-including snow works and urine

Betina Fink went way up north in January and painted in the bitter cold.

She painted her way through frosty Sedona and then traveled even farther north, to the Grand Canyon, where, she says, "it snowed."

No matter. Fink is a plein-air painter who does her preliminary oil sketches outdoors. Cold as it was, she captured the snow on the cliffs and rocks at Hopi Point and elsewhere.

Fink's Grand Canyon and Sedona studies in color and in black-and-white and later studio works will debut at Contreras Gallery this Saturday night during the Central Tucson Gallery Association's Summer Art Cruise, an evening of multiple gallery openings in the arts warehouse district around Sixth and Sixth.

An artist who opens her own studio gallery at Metal Arts Village each month on the night of the full moon (her next opening is June 10), Fink is delighted to be showing at Contreras Gallery for the first time.

"I really like the artists Michael (Contreras) shows in the gallery," she says.

Fink's wintry paintings will be in Women Artists of Tucson, an exhibition nine artists strong. The women work in all media, from Fink's old-master oils to Elizabeth Frank's found-object constructions.

Frank specializes in making angels out of unlikely materials. Her latest, the little beauty "Agave Angel," has metallic wings and pointy agave leaves that shine like rays of light on the halo around her head.

Noted painter Cristina Cardenas is contributing ceramic hearts, and so is Lisa Agababian. Painters in the show include gallery co-owner Neda Contreras, who makes fantasy narrative paintings; abstractionist Nancy Drigotas; portraitist Sarah Masse; Greta Ward, an abstractionist who's lately been painting birds; and watercolorist Sharon Conine.

Contreras started staging women's shows last season, scheduling them during the months of CTGA art walks to maximize their visibility.

"We do well on the art cruises," gallery director Contreras says. "And most of the artists will be at the reception."

Contreras Gallery, 110 E. Sixth St. Reception 6-9 p.m., Saturday, June 3. Show closes June 24. 398-6557. Homemade cornbread and salsa.

The Summer Art Cruise is always a merry—and free!—event, with strollers walking in the cool evening air and taking in arts and tasty treats at the galleries. But the CTGA has lost some member galleries, and there will be fewer art spaces to visit this year. The latest defection is Baker + Hesseldenz, up the street from Contreras.

Partners Scott Baker and Mary Ann Hesseldenz shut down their fine-arts gallery to concentrate on their furniture/design business. They're still representing some artists privately, connecting them with their design clients, Baker says, but "our whole gallery is now furniture."

Even so, four art galleries will fling open their doors Saturday night, and a couple of non-member galleries in the neighborhood will also have their lights on.

Davis Dominguez Gallery has mounted Small Things Considered: 26th Small Works Invitational. Over 80 petite works in every medium are on view, from such longtime favorites as Jim Waid, Barbara Jo McLaughlin, Alfred Quiroz and Tom Philabaum. But the gallery this year also reached out to two newly hatched MFA grads of the UA, Leah Lewman, who's finding new ways to do traditional painting, and Alissa M. Neal, who does up-to-the-minute contemporary. Both shone at the recent MFA show at the University of Arizona Museum of Art. (See "Brave New Masters," Tucson Weekly, May 4)

Lewman contributed an environmentally oriented watercolor and Neal is showing three vials holding her own urine, accompanied by notes that are "descriptions of her daily state," the gallery's Mike Dominguez says. "They're beautifully presented."

Davis Dominguez Gallery, 154 E. Sixth St. Reception 6 to 8 p.m. Show runs through June 23. 881-5335. Wine only, no food.

Raices Taller 222 Art Gallery & Workshop stages Chubasco: A Monsoon Exhibition, an annual tribute to the summer rains through dozens of paintings, photos, sculpture and mixed media. "Rainmaker," a dramatic color photo by Marco Albarran, reflects the local longing for rain. It pictures a young boy on a dusty desert road, gazing at dark monsoon clouds. The boy spreads his arms like magician, ordering the storm to begin.

Raices Taller 222, 218 E. Sixth St., Reception, from 6 to 9 p.m., features live music from the local Luna Azul Trio. Show runs through July 8. 881-5335. Food.

Elemental at Conrad Wilde Gallery is a group exhibition of works that demonstrate the impact of "natural forces upon material," proprietor Miles Conrad says. Kerstin Jones Dale, one of the 10 artists, uses ordinary plywood in large wall-mounted sculptures, but she steams the wood and uses a jigsaw to curve it into delicate shapes.

"She's a river guide on the Colorado River and the works are like abstractions of water formations," Conrad says. "They're elegant and beautiful."

Conrad Wilde Gallery, 101 W. Sixth St., in the Steinfeld Warehouse. Reception 6-9 p.m. Exhibition extended through June 14. 622-8997.

Two galleries at Sixth Avenue and Sixth Street that are not part of CTGA will also open their doors Saturday night.

Wee Gallery, in an interior space inside OZMA Atlier, 439 N. Sixth Ave., Suite #171, is hosting a closing reception for Doing What I Can, painter Ruben Urrea Moreno's month-long solo show. Inspired by indigenous Mexican art, Urrea goes political in this this suite of work. Reception 6 to 11 p.m. 360-6024.

Santa Theresa Tileworks, 440 N. Sixth Ave., behind Raices Taller, will exhibit classic mosaics by award-winning public artist Susan Gamble, along with ceramic art by Jamie Woodard and Bob De Armond. Visitors can also try making a mosaic of their own. Open 6 to 9 p.m. 623-8640.

Philabaum Glass Gallery & Studio, a CTGA member gallery just south of downtown, won't be participating in the evening cruise, but it will unveil its summer show, New Works by Tom Philabaum, on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Open through September, the exhibition celebrates glass-master Philabaum's Precarious Rocks sculptures and his fused glass collage paintings. 711 S. Sixth Ave., 884-7404,

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