Artists in the Spotlight

Tucson Pima Arts Council's Lumies, Friday, June 7, El Casino Ballroom

Each year the Tucson Pima Arts Council hosts the Lumies in an attempt to honor local artists of all kinds, but more importantly to bring the many kinds of art Tucson has to offer into focus.

"I think people don't realize how rich the local arts are," Emily Düwel, the organization's communications manager, said. "It's kind of far beyond what you would expect from a city our size."

The Lumies, short for luminaries, do celebrate a range of Tucson's culture. This year, the 12th annual celebration, nominees range from Flam Chen and Many Mouths One Stomach's work with the All Souls Procession to Bookman's for being a large business partner.

There are 11 award categories and 46 nominees. Nominations are solicited from the public during an open call held in the spring, and a panel of artists and community members decides the winners.

"When someone says 'arts,' people think visual arts," Düwel said. "We celebrate everything: artists, patrons, theaters. It helps to give a bigger picture. It's important to draw attention to that."

This year, the council decided there were a few more awards that needed to be given out. There are two new categories: established artists and arts administrators.

The established artist award will recognize a mid-career artist for her or his innovation and commitment. Nominees include David Fitzsimmons, the Arizona Daily Star's political cartoonist; Pollyanna, the mystery public artist behind the Ernest Shackleton stencils downtown; and Adam Rex, a local children's book illustrator.

A second new Lumies category, Arts Administrator, will recognize an individual whose capable efforts have led the arts to flourish in the region. The nominees are Jessica Andrews, former Executive Director of the Arizona Theatre Company, and Lynn Fleischman, Executive Director of The Drawing Studio.

The Lumies will also pause to give special recognition to the art council's deputy director, David Hoyt-Johnson, who is retiring in June.

The event itself includes tributes to Tucson's art culture.

The Lumies have been held at many iconic Tucson locations over the years, but the event has recently settled in at El Casino Ballroom, located at 437 E. 26th St., near 26th street and Second Avenue. "It's one of the last of the Mexican-American social clubs in Tucson," Düwel said.

As per tradition, the awards that will be handed out are glass sculptures designed by Tom Philabaum, a local artist who has been working as a glassblower in Tucson since 1975.

The Lumies will take place on Friday, June 7. A VIP Reception for nominees and sponsors will begin at 5:30 p.m., followed by the general reception at 6:30 p.m. There will be a buffet from Gallery of Food and a cash bar.

The awards ceremony will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by live electric delta blues music from Tom Walbank and the Ambassadors starting at 8:30 p.m.

Arizona Public Media produced a film featuring Tucson art, which will be screened during the event.

Ernesto Portillo Jr., Arizona Daily Star columnist and editor of La Estrella de Tucsón, will be returning as the emcee.

Tickets are $45 at the door, but can be purchased for $35 through June 6 at

About The Author

Chelo Grubb

Bookworm, cat lady, journalism enthusiast.
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