City Week

Metallic Masterpieces

Paint On Metal
Jan. 29 through May 1
Tucson Museum Of Art
140 N. Main Ave.

There are more than 60 pieces in TMA's latest show, Paint on Metal: Modern and Contemporary Explorations and Discoveries; considering the number of excellent contemporary metal artists, 60 is perhaps just enough to scratch the surface of what makes metal such a compelling medium.

Whatever the attraction, it's nothing new. "The use of polychrome metal in two and three dimensions harkens back to Roman times," reads TMA's press release, "when cast bronze figures were painting in realistic tones. During the Renaissance and the Baroque periods in Europe, artists painted on copper, utilizing the reflective qualities inherent in the metal to accentuate a sense of spiritual luminescence in their two-dimensional works. Since colonial times, Latin American retablos have been painted on tin, as much for the availability of the material as the qualities that provide a smooth surface. Secular folk artists, too, have long used the material, recycling tin and aluminum cans and other materials to create whimsical, colorful works. ..."

Whether artists simply found a useable surface or chose a particular metal to pull the Divine more visibly into their work, modern artists have continued to experiment metal--painting it, scratching it crushing it, just for starters. TMA Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art Julie Sasse has created an exhibit that reveals "a range of approaches, from austere minimalism to lively expressionism," featuring the work of Joan Miró, Frank Stella, Alexander Calder, Robert Rauschenberh, John Chamberlain and others.

Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. Paint on Metal continues through May 1; call for additional information.

Tiptoe Through the (Organic) Tubers

Basic Organic Gardening Workshop
10 a.m. to Noon, Saturday, Jan. 29
St. Mark's Church
3809 E. Third St.

If you've ever wrinkled your nose at the thought of lingering pesticide residues on that zucchini you just picked up at the supermarket, and if you're lucky enough to have a little piece of earth to call your own, consider registering for the Tucson Organic Gardeners' upcoming workshop, a class that teaches the basics of organic gardening to those just starting out.

So what, exactly, is organic gardening? According to, the simple answer simply avoiding the use of synthetic fertilizers or pesticides. "But," the site cautions, "gardening organically is much more than what you don't do.

"When you garden organically," it continues, "you think of your plants as part of a whole system within Nature that starts in the soil and includes the water supply, people, wildlife and event insects. An organic gardener strives to work in harmony with natural systems and to minimize and continually replenish any resources the garden consumes."

Giving attention to the soil--learning to compost with raw, organic matter such as grass clippings and vegetable scraps from the kitchen--and learning to choose plants suited to the site (those able to grow without much assistance or intervention) are easy and exciting ways to work within the "whole system" while harvesting benefits for your own, individual system. After all, "an organic carrot a day keeps the unattractive these-are-the-only-frames-I-can-afford-under-my-vision-plan away."

Or something like that.

Two for the Road

Brass Tacks and That Alchemical Taste In My Mouth
Feb. 2 through Feb. 26
Platform Gallery and Dinnerware Contemporary Arts

Platform's Phoebe McDermott says it's mere coincidence that Platform and DCA--after working together on Tucson's Breakthrough Digital Artists, an exhibit of digital art presented jointly by the two galleries through Jan. 29--are opening and closing their respective upcoming exhibits on the same day, holding their corresponding opening receptions on the same day and both offering new works by female artists.

Whatever the case, it's unlikely to matter to Tucson art fans, who can make a night of it Saturday, Feb. 5 by stopping in at Platform between 6 and 9 p.m. and DCA between 7 and 10 p.m. If you prefer art without hobnobbing and cheese platters, skip the openings and stop in beginning Wednesday, Feb. 2, for a first look at the work of four women who work in mediums that range from soft sculpture to neon.

DCA's That Alchemical Taste in My Mouth: Facts, Reactions and Tools features Hilary Meehan, who, according to DCA's press release, creates work "in the vein of Jonathan Borofsky and Michael Craig-Martin ... sleek and contemporary with a conceptual edge ... her own world of oversized teddy bears, lead balloons and cartoonish TNT explosives."

Platform's Brass Tacks is comprised of work by Serena Tang, Meghan Berschback and Aili Schmeltz. "All of the artists are kind of talking about explorations of their youth, and the influence of that in their work," says McDermott. For Tang, that manifests as still-lifes of tables covered with food that link her to her native Chinese culture; Berschback handles themes of innocence with monoprints and linoleum plates; Schmeltz's soft sculpture reference memories of her 1970s childhood.

DCA is located at 210 N. Fourth Ave. (792-4503); Platform is located at 439 N. Sixth Ave. (882-3886).

Time's Winged Chariot

Meet-and-Greet with director Ross McElwee; screening of Bright Leaves
5 and 7 p.m., Friday, Jan. 28
Various Locations

Ross McElwee is perhaps best known for his 1986 film, Sherman's March, which won Best Documentary at the Sundance Film Festival and received critical praise from The Village Voice, The New York Times and others. But McElwee, for all his success, should perhaps by rights be not merely successful, but stinking rich--he's the great-grandson of John McElwee, who patented the Bull Durham line of tobacco.

McElwee's latest film, Bright Leaves, examines the South's tobacco industry, focusing on the damage caused by smoking-related illnesses and McElwee's own family roots in the business. The title of the film is a nod both to the beauty of tobacco leaves and the 1950 film Bright Leaf--a movie starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal that may or may not have been inspired by the rivalry between McElwee's great-grandfather and Washington Duke (founder of Duke University), who built an tobacco empire after essentially destroying McElwee. (The elder McElwee's warehouse was burned down three times by suspicious fires.)

In his writing, Roger Ebert described McElwee thus: "He looks at faded home movies of his father, trying to recapture memories of the man ... he films his son and wonders how the son will feel, some day, seeing this film. Always at his back he hears time's winged chariot ... and is fascinated by the way film seems to freeze time, or a least preserve it."

The 5 p.m. meet-and-greet will be held at the Red Garter Bar and Grill (3143 E. Speedway Blvd.); the screening will begin at 7 p.m. at The Loft Cinema (3233 E. Speedway Blvd.). The cost for the general public is $5 and $7.50, respectively.

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