For nearly two years, two local artists have been collaborating on work that examines human frailty and its direct relevance to the uneasiness of the world's current political, religious and social frictions.
Alice Leora Briggs has transformed the gallery into a waiting room for Michael Cajero's assembly of repenting souls. Both artists draw inspiration from art history, mythology, music, folklore, poetry and literature. Both share a concern for the human condition.
Walk into the intermezzo that is Purgatorio. The installation combines the labyrinthine ideas, drawings and structures of Briggs with the expressionistic figures from the dark sculptural worlds of Cajero. The intricate scratchboard panels drawn by Briggs are reminiscent of Renaissance paintings and prints while Cajero's ceramic sculptures beckon you to stand before them and wonder--or wander.
The show opens with a reception this week and continues through March 28. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday and 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
As the photographer for Witness for Peace, Paul Dix documented the effects of the United States-funded contra war on civilians in Nicaragua from 1985 to 1990. This past year, he returned to Nicaragua for six months to find these same people and gather new photos and testimonies. He was amazingly lucky. With help from many Nicaraguans, he found a good number of those he had photographed earlier.
Luz Mabel Lumbí Rizo was one of those he photographed back in the '80s. Her story began on the evening of Oct. 20, 1986, in the small community of La Uñion. The contra fighters opened fire on her family's home. Luz was just 22 months old.
After the deafening gunshots stopped echoing, the pool of collective bloodshed swelled. Baby Luz was shot in the right arm. Her father and 1-month-old sister were killed. Her sister, Elida Janet, was badly wounded in the face.
After years of fearing life in La Uñion, Luz Mabel has now returned to her community with a daughter of her own.
Hear about the more than 85 people like Luz Mabel that Dix found on his travels through Nicaragua 20 years after the contra war. His images and interviews focus on the victims of war and what happens to them long after our attention has faded, long after we delve into other wars around the globe.
The presentation is free.
Our hometown traditional Irish band, Round the House, has received acclaim beyond the Grand Canyon state.
Last year, they were featured on NPR's "All Songs Considered." Locally, they've won the Best Traditional/Ethnic Music award from the Tammies two years running.
The quartet is comprised of Dave Firestine on mandolin, banjo, bouzouki, bodhran and vocals; Sharon Goldwasser on fiddle; Mike Smith on guitar; and Claire Zucker on vocals--in both Irish Gaelic and English--and bodhran. Her voice has been compared to great Irish singers in bands such as Altan, Dervish and Solas.
Joining Round the House are step dancers from the Bracken School of Irish Dance, who've qualified for the All-Ireland World Step Dancing Championship held in Glasgow each year. Founder Thomas Bracken grew up in Ireland and began dancing at the ripe age of 4. Now he tours extensively and teaches classes in Phoenix, Tucson and San Diego. Locally, he's joined by choreographer Rosemary Browne. She's made appearances at Carnegie Hall and toured Ireland, and has taught at the Bracken School since its opening.
Advanced tickets cost $14 for adults or $6 for kids under 12 and are available at Antigone Books, Brew & Vine, CD City and Enchanted Earthworks; online at www.dotucson.com; or by calling Rhythm & Roots. Get them at the door, and they'll cost $2 more.
Artistic mayhem? Possibly. Risk taking? You bet. In-your-face performances? That's the whole point.
Last year's bifurcated warehouse dance performance was anything but a schizoid experience. O-T-O Dance is at it again this year, making sure the boundary between the stage and audience is hard to discern. Many of the performance works plow through the hierarchical separations between those sitting in metal folding chairs and those romping around on tippy-toe. It's a delightful, visceral, kinetic feel for either group.
Vignettes move between two performance spaces in the warehouse studio. You pick yourself up and shuffle to the other side in some cases. In between are refreshments amidst the photo and video art of Chuck Koesters. Modern and aerial pieces by the O-T-O dancers bracket poetry by Charles Alexander, Richard Tavenner and Karen Falkenstrom. Expect to see and hear performance art and theater by Paul Fisher and Wrenn Bunker-Koesters, drumming by Odaiko Sonora and music by Chris Levesque and Roger Thomas. Newly choreographed pieces by Orts' director Anne Bunker as well as Kevin Schroder and Caryl Clement are featured.
The show is suitable for humans of all ages. Last year, it sold out, so get your tickets early. They cost $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors, and are available at Bentley's Café, Antigone Books, Silverbell Trading or online at www.orts.org.
"The austerity of Michael Palmer's visionary poems recall Paul Celan," writes Marjorie Perloff in 21st Century Modernism.
She goes on to say that Palmer negotiates "not the post-war landscapes of deprivation and desolation, but the absurdist displacement by degrees on experiences in the post-urban world of late 20th-century America."
Palmer was born before the middle of that century, smack in the midst of World War II in New York City, an urban jungle if there ever was one. He is the author of many books including The Promises of Glass, Without Music and The Circular Gates. His poems have shown up in literary magazines such as O-blek and Sulfur. He's the winner of grants from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. In 1999, he was elected a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Coming soon is a new collection of his poems, Company of Moths, as well as Selected Essays and Talks. In between word-smithing, Palmer holds the position of visiting professor at the University of Cardiff.
Palmer launches the spring reading series this week and also offers a craft lecture that looks at the theater of voices found in much modern and contemporary poetry at 4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29, at Himmel Park Library (1035 N. Treat Ave.). He'll look at the reconfiguration of subjectivity in response to historical and social crisis--from figures as diverse as Fernando Pesoa, Aimé Césaire and Susan Howe.
Both the reading and the lecture are free.