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FINDING HER WAY BACK

Friday, Dec. 19, 7 p.m.
Reader's Oasis
3400 E. Speedway Blvd.
319-7887

Novelist Thomas Wolfe added to our lexicon the simple line, "You can't go home again."

Tucson poet Pamela Uschuk is making holes in that well-worn quote.

Uschuk left us a couple of years ago to live in North Carolina, where she directs the Salem College for Women Writers. She's an award-winning poet and author of numerous books. Last month, her debut chapbook, Without Birds, Without Flowers, Without Trees, was re-issued. Originally published in 1991 as part of the prestigious Flume Poetry Chapbook Series, the book has been out of print for nearly a decade.

Hear her read from this early work--and maybe from new poems she's working on.

The reading is free.


HOMEY MUSIC

Friday and Saturday, Dec. 19-20, 7:30 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 21, 2 p.m.
Tucson Convention Center Music Hall
260 S. Church Ave.
882-8585

If there's one holiday concert people ask for perennially, it's the Tucson Symphony Orchestra's holiday pops concert, Home for the Holidays.

Music director and conductor George Hanson rings in the festivities with a mix of music theater, dance and choral music. Featured guest artists for the musical and dance sleigh ride are Korby Myrick, mezzo-soprano; Ian Magnus, tenor; the Tucson Regional Ballet; Mariachi Aztlan de Pueblo High School; the St. Philip's Ringers; and the Tucson chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America.

Hum along to holiday favorites such as Joy to the World and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Watch the dancers leap through A Southwest Nutcracker. Hear the award-winning mariachi players perform classics like Huapango and El Crucifijo de Piedra.

Tickets cost $19 to $41. Call the box office for yours.


HAVING A BALL

Saturday, Dec. 20, 8 p.m.
Armory Park Senior Center Ballroom
220 S. Fifth Ave.
770-9540

If you missed it the first three years, here's your chance to catch the annual performance of the U.S. Amateur Ballroom Dancers strutting to a grab bag of Christmas ballroom standards. That's not all. There's Latin, tango, swing and nightclub music crooning to starlights and snowflakes. Yes, indeedy.

You're advised to dress dressy to formal. But have no fear if you're without a significant other; no partners are necessary. Bring yours if you'd like, or choose a better one from the wallflower selection. Beverages and desserts are served. Leave the smokes at home. Admission costs $8 at the door.

Call for any scintillating details I may have omitted.


PEER IN

Various downtown galleries

The lobby in the Hotel Congress (311 E. Congress St.) is one of my favorite places to soak up a feast for the senses. You can people-watch until your eyeballs cross. You can hear strains of funky music emanating from Club Congress. There are plenty of good conversations to eavesdrop from the bar. Scrumptious smells waft out of Cup Café. Smack in the midst of all this is an intriguing collection of artwork hanging on the eastern wall.

The shows rotate monthly at the Gallery at the Hotel Congress. Opening Saturday, Dec. 20, with a reception from 7 to 9 p.m., is an aptly timed holiday fund-raiser exhibition. It features new work by six local artists. If you checked out any of their work at open studios, here's your chance to meet them again in a different setting. Two pieces each by Matt Cotten, Steven Derks, Catherine Eyde, Kristin Giordano, Rosanna Salonia and Gwyneth Scally grace the walls. A portion of the proceeds of anything you buy (hint: support local artists) is being donated to Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Tucson.

The show stays up until Jan. 15, and the lobby never closes. Be nice and bring a nonperishable food item for the Food Bank.

While you're on Congress Street, stroll down to the Panel Gallery in Vaudeville Cabaret (110 E. Congress St.). The shows rotate whenever they're in the mood. Darren Clark curates them, and this time around, he's featuring the poster art of Frank Kozik. The selected works are from the private collection of Kevin Ketchum. Catch them hanging through New Year's Eve. Gallery hours are Wednesday through Sunday from noon to midnight. No excuses.

Head up to Fourth Avenue to ITL Coffee Shop (415 N. Fourth Ave.) for a series of images depicting the volatile resurgence of social repression in Argentina. Juan Domingo Vera also depicts the strength, care and solidarity of the people who resist such oppression, like the women of Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo and the children of the Renacer Food Shelter. This week marks an anniversary--the riots that occurred in Buenos Aires on Dec. 20, 2001. Vera caught them on film. (For more information, see page 33.)

The show continues through Saturday, Dec. 20 and closes with a reception at 6:30 p.m.

Around the corner at the Muse Community Gallery (516 N. Fifth Ave. at Sixth Street), a breath of fresh air blows in Light in the Sky, which features landscape paintings done largely en plein air, which means the artists dragged their easels outside, as is the tradition of this genre.

The small paintings of more than 20 Western artists are done mostly in oils. They capture the life of a hillside, a forest or a mountaintop in largely impressionist ways. The 45-plus paintings are hung salon style along the newly resurrected gallery. In an unusual twist, all proceeds from sales go directly to the artist.

The show stays up until Dec. 30, and you can view the work from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday to Thursday.


A LONG, LONG NIGHT

Saturday, Dec. 20, 2 to 6 p.m.
Green Fire Bookshop
925 E. Fort Lowell Road
408-0677

At 12:04 a.m. on Monday, Dec. 22, to be precise, our favorite star, the Sun, will reach the winter solstice (from the Latin sol, sun, plus sistere, to stand still). It is the shortest day of the year and the official start of winter in the Northern Hemisphere.

Even us snowbirds can feel the shift in the air.

It's a day that's celebrated throughout the world. This year, closer to home, the Institute for the Shamanic Arts hosts a solstice ceremony that includes didgeridoo healings, art with the Honor the Animals Earth Tribe Banner and the Sixth Extinction Art Project. Don't miss the crafts and music, too. Danny August of Desert People Wilderness School lights a ceremonial fire at sunset to welcome the winter season to town.

It's free and open to all.

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