City Week

A Fourth Avenue Tradition That May Save Your Gift-Giving Butt

Fourth Avenue Winter Street Fair
10 a.m. TO 5 p.m., Dec. 10-12
Fourth Avenue, between University Boulevard and Ninth Street

If you've lived in Tucson for longer than six months, chances are good you've already wandered through a twice-annual Fourth Avenue Street Fair. But what you don't know (probably) is that simply by stuffing your face with funnel cake while ambling from vendor to vendor, you've become a participant in a 34-year-old tradition

The Fourth Avenue Street Fair began in 1970, when the merchants who lined the avenue put tables in front of their stores to attract holiday shoppers. "From that beginning," reads the press release, "it has developed into one of the premier street fairs in the nation, drawing crowds of 200,000 to 350,000 and ranking as one of the top visual arts fairs in the country."

Why, you may wonder, is the quality of the crafts and fine arts sold at the Fourth Avenue fairs superior to what you've come to expect from your average street fair? Because they're juried, that's why, which means not just anyone can pitch a tent and set up a table. An artist who wants to sell their work at a Fourth Avenue fair has to cough up a substantial location fee, then still risks having their application rejected. Additionally, there are rules governing what can and cannot be sold--"all artistic items must be handmade and sold by the artist who made them"; "no more than three people may be involved in the production of a craft or art product"--all of which guarantees that the perfect gift you're likely to find at a Fourth Avenue fair is also unique and especially worthy of the person to whom it's being given. Plus, with all the music, food, face painting and jugglers surrounding the event, it's actually fun to shop.

Holiday Outings

Fiesta Feliz 2004 and Music in The Canyon
Various Dates
Various Locations

As busy as this time of year is--whether you're cleaning your house with frightening ferocity or ransacking the garage for those holiday lights you're sure you saved--it isn't the time to start staying home.

The Center for the Hispanic Performing Arts (CHISPA) will celebrate Fiesta Feliz 2004 with its fourth annual "music and dance extravaganza," at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14, at UA's Centennial Hall (1020 E. University Blvd.). CHISPA's celebration is billed as offering audiences "the most meaningful and representative holiday material of Mexican art and culture."

More than 100 dancers in full holiday regalia will dance Mexican holiday folk legends, accompanied by Mariachi Cielo de Mexico and Mariachi Sonido de Mexico. Both mariachi groups will perform traditional Villancicos (Christmas carols); there will be a demonstration of the traditional Posadas (the depiction of Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in Bethlehem) and much more. Tickets are $17-$20 with discounts for seniors and children; available through Ticketmaster (321-1000) and the Centennial Hall box office (621-3341).

Music in the Canyon is in its 10th year. Just bundle up and follow the luminarias from the Sabino Canyon Visitor's Center (5700 N. Sabino Canyon Road) to an outdoor stage that will feature The Tucson Arizona Boys Chorus, the Desert Sons, the Tucson Fine Arts Magnet High School Choirs and the Shadz Utterback Alumni Band. Throw in some hot chocolate and visits from Santa and Smokey Bear, and you've got a perfect holiday evening for the whole family. The event takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10; admission is a suggested donation of $5 per family or $2 per individual. Call 749-1900 for more information.

New York Through the Ages

On The Street: The New York School of Photographers Exhibit
Dec. 11-Feb. 27
UA Center for Creative Photography
1030 N. Olive Road

There are few cities in the world as frenetic as New York City--it's got a kind of mad buzz that invites either absolute submersion into its culture or makes one want to step outside the fray to get a better look at it. A symbol of human progress and modernity, the city--with its intense concentration of human beings--also can't help but the illustrate the less-idyllic side of urbanity ... not just the bridges and monuments, but the poverty, depravity and desperation that is day-to-day life for many. CCP's latest exhibit, On the Street: The New York School of Photographers, highlights the work of photographers who were on the New York City streets between the Depression and the 1970s, as well as those who came before them.

THE CCP is very good at offering context; in this case, the prints of artists such as Berenice Abbott, Alfred Stieglitz and Charles Sheeler--whose work was very much about the promise of the city--offer a launching point for understanding the revolution represented by the next group to come along.

Working mostly with ambient light and generally eschewing large-format cameras in favor of small, portable versions that allowed them to go where the action was, photographers such as Diane Arbus, Garry Winogrand, Helen Levitt, Weegee and several others--a group later dubbed the "New York School"--documented the fallout of humanity's grand ambitions using cockeyed camera angles, blurred focus and grainy exposures that ramped up the intimacy of their work even as they unbalanced the viewer.

There are approximately 110 images in the exhibit; admission to the CCP is always free. Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, and noon to 5 p.m. weekends.

Women Who Rock (and Wreck)

Tucson Roller Derby Wheelies
6:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 10
Club Congress
311 E. Congress St.

They grow up so fast, don't they? Tucson Roller Derby--code for Tucson's four all-girl flat-track roller derby teams--celebrates its first birthday this weekend, with an skater awards ceremony and "punk rock prom."

The Furious Truckstop Waitresses, the Iron Curtain, the VICE squad and the Saddletramps formed in late 2003; by early November 2004, they were already playing their first interstate bouts.

Although the teams' uniforms are carefully thought out, the bouts themselves are not--nothing is planned, staged or faked. The bruises and blood are real, and the rules that govern roller derby are explicit: Players must have health insurance, must wear protective gear and may not cry. (Also, a player who is knocked out of bounds must get back on the track before blocking an opponent, i.e. she may not perform a "flying tackle" on the way back in.)

Tucson Roller Derby's inaugural Wheelies will hand out everything from the MVP award to recognition for the "Wiliest" skater and the "Best Fighter." The Wheelies are also intended to thank the sponsors, volunteers and fans who made the season possible, since not just any old town will embrace a roller derby league.

Live performances from The Knockout Pills, Shark Pants and Absolute Fucking Saints will follow the awards ceremony; the event poster also promises "shocking video." For a look at what the TRD does, and does well, log on to the Web site listed above and check out their photo gallery. You, too, may be inspired to join the league ... if you're female and have teeth to spare. Other volunteer opportunities are available for people who don't fit those criteria. Admission is $3.

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