Thursday 14

LONG WHITE NIGHT. It doesn't boast a catchy corporate logo, whiz-bang marketers or retail tie-ins. Nope, what funky little Valley of the Moon has going for it is much more special: a long history of providing Tucsonans with a charming, original and homespun fantasy-land.

The park grew from the fertile mind of late visionary George Phar Legler, who created a clever world of mini-mountains, secretive caves and Byzantine pathways, now manned by friendly volunteers. Those dedicated folks are revving up for the annual Walk through Winter Wonderland. From what they tell Mr. City Week, they're hoping you'll gather yer kin and head to midtown for "a leisurely stroll though our decorations, lights and music."

Walk through Winter Wonderland runs from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays through December 23. Valley of the Moon is at 2544 E. Allen Road, north of Prince Road and east of Tucson Boulevard. Donations are suggested. For information, call 323-1331.

BLACKTAIL BANTER. Among those wonderful creatures trying to share this patch o' paradise with possessive bipeds is the striking Chiricahua blacktail. Find out how the rattler likewise shares its shrinking habitat with a surprising diversity of wildlife, in a lecture hosted by the Sky Island Alliance. Biologist David Hardy presents the natural history of this dynamic reptile with a slide show, and his encyclopedic blacktail knowledge.

The free lecture is at 6 p.m. in the UA Water Resources building, 350 N. Campbell Ave. For details, call 624-7080.

Friday 15

SEASONAL SOUL. Top high-steppers take flight for the Winter Solstice Dance Concert, presented by the Zuzi! Move It Dance Company.

You're invited to come celebrate the season of shadow and light with unique performances of dance, poetry and music. Community dancers will join Zuzi members for performances featuring youths ages 11 through 14, and older folks from the Women's Initiative group.

Also featured will be Zuzi's Full Woman. With music by Rachel Bagby, the work explores the female experience, and the support women give one another. The piece comes from Philadelphia's Sacred Ways Dance Company, founded by Zuzi co-director Nancy Mellan.

Other highlights will include an aerial dance duet featuring Nanette Robinson and guest artist Beth Braun, and choreographed by Wendy Joy.

Show times are 8 p.m. today through Sunday at Zuzi's Little Theater, in the Historic YWCA at 738 N. Fifth Ave. Tickets are $10, $7 for students and seniors, and are available by calling 629-0237.

UNIVERSAL SOUND. The Tucson Symphony Orchestra marks seasonal sentiment with Music for Mankind.

George Hanson conducts this fourth installment of the Classic Concert Series. It pairs two substantial works, Beethoven's Symphony No. 5 in C minor, Op. 67, and John Corigliano's Symphony No. 1.

The classical theme will become recognizable within the first four notes of Beethoven's symphony. It was the first major orchestral work to unify the four-movement symphony under a common motif. The result is a cyclic work that overturned many formal concepts of the classical symphony.

Corigliano ranks among the leading composers of his generation, described by Aaron Copland as "the real thing, one of the most talented composers on the scene today."

Music for Mankind is at 8 p.m. in the Tucson Convention Center Music Hall, 260 S. Church Ave. Tickets range from $13 to $32, and are available at the TSO box office and Ticketmaster, or by calling 882-8585.

Saturday 16

TRADE-OFF. Wish you could ditch the plastic when it comes to getting what you need, whether it's services, household items or that elusive piece of art? Find out how, when Tucson Traders host their Holiday Barter Fair.

The Traders do just that--swap professional services and goods among their growing membership of some 200 folks. This bartering can include everything from painting and carpentry skills to massages and transportation.

Learn more about Tucson Traders from noon to 4 p.m. in the Living Community Center, 330 E. Seventh St. The gathering will feature information booths, chow, drink and creative holiday gifts up for grabs. Call 388-8844 for details.

GOING FOR GOLD. Tucson Parks and Recreation's Children's Theatre unearths local folklore for El Tejano's Gold.

Written and directed by David Felix, the bilingual production follows a group of young adventurers as they encounter La Llorona, the Chupacabra, and even the fearsome El Tejano himself, as they search for his hidden gold on Cat Back Mountain.

Show times are 4 p.m. today and tomorrow in the Himmel Park Amphitheater, 1000 N. Tucson Blvd., and Saturday and Sunday, January 6 and 7, in the Randolph Performing Arts Auditorium, 200 S. Alvernon Way. Admission is free. For details, call 791-4663.

Sunday 17

DESERT CORNUCOPIA. Discover the best our little ol' desert has to offer at the weekly Tucson Farmers' Market. These cornucopias offer fresh fruit, vegetables, and other products from local and regional producers. You can usually land a great regional salsa, freshly baked bread or even luscious goat cheese, all under semi-balmy December skies.

The Tucson Farmers' Markets runs from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at St. Phillips Plaza, on the southeast corner of Campbell Avenue and River Road. Call 743-8063 for details.

BIG WINDS. A brassy storm blows up on the north side with the Arizona Symphonic Winds.

Under the direction of László Veres, the orchestra will feature clarinetists Pat Montoya and Sandy Weber performing Franz Krommer's Concerto for Two Clarinets. The program will also feature the Sicilian Vespers Overture by Verdi, Gershwin's An American in Paris, Centennial Spirit by James Curnow, and holiday favorites.

Show time is 3 p.m. in the Catalina Foothills High School Auditorium, 4300 E. Sunrise Drive. A $5 donation is suggested. For information, call 531-9836.

Monday 18

REAL GEM. Artistic jewels go on display with The Gem Show, exhibited by the Wilde Meyer Gallery.

Featured artists include Eric Budd, Fran Larsen, Armando Lopez, Kevin Red Star, Ellen Skidmore, Barbara Gurwitz and Nancy Pendleton.

The work varies in style, but not in quality. Fran Larsen refers to her brightly colored landscapes and architectural watercolors as "metaphors for living." Her hand-painted frames capture the momentary relationships of land to buildings, and buildings to each other--as if looking out a window.

By contrast, Armando Lopez creates contemporary and traditional figures using tribal art techniques passed down through the centuries in his South American culture. Corn husks, twigs, grasses and even 24-carat gold leaf are sculpted into angels, altars and other spiritual figures.

Eric Budd paints a myriad of suspensions for his boats, each representing a different encounter we face during our lifetimes. The display also includes Budd's small wall sculptures--hand-carved three-dimensional animal and bird figures adorning hand-crafted frames, which in turn contain two-dimensional paintings.

The Gem Show runs through December 30 in the Wilde Meyer Gallery, 3001 E. Skyline Drive. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Call 615-5222 for details.

Tuesday 19

HOW SUITE IT IS. The Ballet Arts Foundation leaps into a seasonal classic with its production of The Nutcracker.

This full-length extravaganza celebrates imagination and the child in everyone. Based on the original story published by E.T.A. Hoffmann in 1816, and subsequently performed in St. Petersburg in 1892, the story has thrilled tykes and their big people for years. Ballet Arts' production--with Tchaikovsky's timeless score--promises to carry on the tradition with elaborate costumes, fantastic sets and the grand pageantry of dance.

Performances are at 7 p.m. today and tomorrow in the Pima Community College Proscenium Theater, 2202 W. Anklam Road. Tickets are $18, and are available by calling 206-6986.

TINSEL TUNE. Get a melodic dose of seasonal cheer at Songs of Christmas, a holiday revue presented by Live Theatre Workshop.

The show will highlight everybody's favorite Yule tunes, along with dancing and holiday storytelling. Cast members for this family show include Jeremy Thompson, Ruth Baron, Linda Andresano, Radonna Darnell and Daniel Kennedy.

Show time is 7:30 p.m. nightly through Saturday, December 23 at Live Theatre Workshop, 5317 E. Speedway Blvd. Tickets are $8, $5 for children, and are available by calling 327-4242.

Wednesday 20

LEND A LIMB. The Salvation Army is again gathering Christmas gifts for unfortunate wee ones and lonely oldsters through its excellent Christmas Angel Tree Program.

Last year, the program distributed more than 18,000 gifts around town, and this year the need is even greater. For the coming holiday, Army troopers are hoping to gather some 22,000 goodies.

So how can you help? Find Salvation Army trees sprouting in major Tucson malls and at other retailers. They're easy to spot--each is adorned by "Angel Tags." The tags represent families with incomes near or at the poverty level, and lonely seniors who would also welcome a special gift.

Good Samaritans can choose one or more tags, purchase gifts for people listed and return them to the tree. From there, the Salvation Army takes the gifts and distributes them to those in need.

For information on the Christmas Angel Tree Program, call 795-9671.

LOCAL LENS. Three acclaimed hometown shooters are highlighted in Local Color: Photographs by Adriel Heisey, Jack Dykinga and William Lesch, now on display in the Etherton Gallery.

Heisey combines his love for flying with the art of photography. He captures aerial images of the landscape, which ultimately emerge as vibrant abstractions. As he buzzes about in a 450-pound plane of his own making, his photographs document the pure designs of nature, and chronicle abstract territory where human and topographical patterns of the natural world connect.

Using a technique that's been described as "painting with light," Lesch creates surrealistic photographs of the desert landscape. His approach fuses a painter's subjectivity with a photographer's instinct for the "decisive moment." Shaking the "stubborn scent of reality," Lesch often initiates that moment, first by mapping a recognizable territory and then transforming it by "painting on the desert with lights."

The work of Dykinga, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer, merges the sensibilities of photojournalism with images arising from the "isolation of virtue"--an approach found among those fighting to preserve pristine wilderness. This sense of the landscape as wilderness--and its preservation as a crucial cause--is combined in Dykinga's large-format approach. The results are riveting works that create an emphatic argument for nature as a sustainable force.

Local Color runs through January 6 in the Etherton Gallery Downtown, 135 S. Sixth Ave. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays, and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursdays. Call 624-7370 for information.

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