City Week

I Heart Art!

Create Your City Art Party

6:30 p.m., Friday, Aug. 21

Pre-show: Winsett Park

Fourth Avenue and Eighth Street

Followed by procession to Rialto Theatre

318 E. Congress St.

$10 to $25 donation


Imagine taking dozens of Tucson's art organizations—the Parasol Project, Opening Minds Through the Arts, Tucson Arts Brigade, Dinnerware and Tucson Puppet Works (to name a few)—and getting them all together in one place to throw a party.

Essentially, that's what Creative City is doing this Friday at their Create Your City Art Party.

The coalition, which was founded in February, is a merger of all different kinds of people involved in the arts, beyond painters and musicians, explains Michael Schwartz, an event organizer and artist himself.

"There's no one person in charge of it; each of those groups is on the steering committee, and we all decide, you know, what happens next," he says. "Each time we meet, we meet at a different space—we aren't done building the coalition (yet)."

For this Friday's party, there will be a little bit of everything: puppets, stilt-walkers, performance installations and eight local bands, including Mr. Free and the Satellite Freakout, in addition to much more, Schwartz explains.

Guests are encouraged to get creative and dress up, though there isn't an "official" theme.

"The theme is kind of the re-opening of the Fourth Avenue underpass, but, really, what this is about is that both Creative City and Parasol believe that building community through the arts helps to reconnect people," he says.

The money raised at the event will go to the performers, with 5 percent also going each to Parasol and Creative City—to put toward similar events in the future.

"The goal is to put money into the pockets of artists and arts organizations here in Tucson, (and) to make sure that we can continue doing this very important work," Schwartz says. —A.B.

If It Ain't Got That Swing

Chip Ritter with the Shadz Big Band

7:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 22

La Encantada

2905 E. Skyline Drive


The results are in, and it appears bigger actually is better—at least for Chip Ritter's new 20-piece big band. The newly formed Shadz Big Band will be performing live swing-dancing music and big-band classics at La Encantada on Saturday night.

The group of talented musicians, put together by drummer Ritter and director Joel Dunst, has never performed together in public before—and is taking the opportunity to give something back. The show is part of the nonprofit Southern Arizona Arts and Cultural Alliance's annual series of summer concerts.

Jonas Hunter, special events director for SAACA, explains that money from the Summer Concert Series is redirected to the Musicians in the Classroom project. The program brings professional musicians from the Tucson Symphony Orchestra into local schools, giving kids hands-on musical experience. Several members of the Shadz Big Band actually benefited from the program as kids—and now, they get to help give others what received.

Hunter explains that SAACA used to be known as GOVAC (Greater Oro Valley Arts Council).

"It became necessary to branch out from Oro Valley," he says. "We'd become pigeonholed."

Concerts like these allow SAACA to become more involved in other areas of Tucson and to offer more types of programs, he says.

"We're here to support and sustain the arts through diverse events," he continues. Even though this is the sixth of seven concerts set for the summer, Hunter says SAACA has plenty of other events lined up, including gallery displays and even car shows.

Doors open for the concert at 6:30 p.m., and tickets are available online or at the door for $10. —S.J.

Lower-Class Landscape

Heritage by Chris McGinnis

9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday-Friday, Aug. 24 through Sept. 9

Lionel Rombach Gallery

UA campus, southeast corner of Park Avenue and Speedway Boulevard


Starting Monday, you may be surprised at what you find—or don't find—on the walls of the UA Lionel Rombach Gallery. Instead of displaying his art in the traditional way, Chris McGinnis will be installing more than 30 paintings of landscape on the floor of the gallery.

"It's definitely not traditional," says McGinnis, a MFA student at the UA. His exhibition, Heritage, examines the roots of our American landscape and ideologies through our blue-collar industrial history, so working against the high-class traditions in art makes sense.

He explains that putting his art on the floor rather than the walls is like a slap in the face for high art; we're literally walking all over it. But, he continues, installing his landscapes on the floor allows for another opportunity: It allows "landscape to act as landscape."

"Growing up in Pittsburgh was a huge inspiration," he says.

McGinnis hopes to capture that city's increasingly relevant blue-collar history, particularly in terms of its relationship with the automotive industry. He says that because members of his family work in the industry, the exhibit hits especially close to home for him.

McGinnis explains that to include this idea in the show, the only sculpture in the exhibit will be made out of various cheap construction materials and coated in high-gloss automotive enamel; the "spire-like" sculpture will be the most illuminated and central piece of the show. It directly references the Washington Monument, adding another dimension of American identity. As visitors walk around the structure, they become part of the exhibit, alluding to the water in the reflecting pool at the monument.

Admission is free. —S.J.

Aerosol Action

Graffiti Mural Art: History, Culture and Controversy

5:30 to 7 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 25

Tucson Museum of Art

140 N. Main Ave.


What is it exactly that elevates graffiti art from the level of simply being graffiti? Where is the line between the two?

On Tuesday, Tucsonans will attempt to find the answers to these questions.

In a collaboration between The Tucson Museum of Art, Tucson Parks and Recreation, the El Presidio Neighborhood Association, the Tucson Pima Arts Council and City Councilmember Regina Romero, a new graffiti-art mural will be unveiled on a wall of the Tucson Water building, adjacent to the Tucson Museum of Art. The event will also include a discussion about the merits of aerosol graffiti art and its place in Tucson's contemporary art scene.

Meredith Hayes, a spokeswoman for the Tucson Museum of Art, explains that for years, the concrete back wall of the Tucson Water building lay blank and untouched, until the city allowed artist Rocky Martinez to use the wall as a canvas for a graffiti competition last December. However, says Hayes, the nearby neighborhoods were not too happy about what had been put on the wall—so the neighborhoods, along with several other local arts organizations, came together to decide on something more pleasing, yet still in the spirit of the original contemporary "graffiti art."

The event will give the public a chance to view and understand graffiti art and its relationship with young Tucson artists.

"It's going to be a great opportunity to talk about aerosol art," Hayes says, "and it will give us a chance to talk about the difference between graffiti and art."

The event is free; food and drinks will be available. —S.J.

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