City Week

Raising Awareness

Autism Walk/Run and Resource Fair

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m., Saturday, April 2

UA Mall


As Jennifer Davis, the president of the Autism Society of Greater Tucson, put it: "Unless you've been here, it's very hard to grasp."

Scientists are still trying to figure out what autism is all about. Autism is manifested by delays in language, repetitive behaviors, imaginary worlds and an array of communication barriers.

One challenge is simply diagnosing autism, as it tends to take on many shapes and faces.

"This is unique, because (autism) is not readily apparent in someone's outward appearance, and it is important to know that it is not someone's choice," Davis said. "In the case of my son, Tyler, he will always have autism. It is not something that will go away with time. It seems once we overcome some challenges, new ones surface."

(Full disclosure: I have a younger sister with autism, and I share Davis' perspective.)

"We are definitely a large family, a community," Davis said, "Any time you face adversity, there is strength in numbers. No one voice will change this issue; it will be all of our little voices coming together to raise awareness, and ultimately, acceptance of autism and the people affected by it."

Saturday's Autism Walk/Run and Resource Fair appropriately falls on World Autism Awareness Day.

"Recent statistics I saw are claiming that 1 in every 84 Arizonans is affected by autism," Davis said. "Without help and support, Autism can be very isolating."

Walk organizers also want to raise money for local autism resources. With raffles, music, jumping castles and more, the fair is catered to families and anyone who wants to learn more about autism.

The 5k walk/run, with a 1k option, begins at 9 a.m. Adult registration is $20 on the day of the walk; child registration is $5. —T.K.

Behind the Music

Lisztian Loves

3 p.m., Sunday, April 3; pre-concert chat at 2:30 p.m.

Berger Performing Arts Center

1200 W. Speedway Blvd.


Many people know Franz Liszt is a famous composer—but there is a lot more to the man than just his piano pieces.

Lisztian Loves explores the unheralded side of the famed musician. Directed by Troy Hollar and written by Chamber Music PLUS' Harry Clark, the show will incorporate Liszt's music while telling his life story. Playing music is André Watts, and acting alongside him will be Michael York.

"André has played Liszt for years," said Clark.

Clark was inspired by Liszt's life to write the show.

"In his time, he was the equivalent of the Beatles and a famous movie star, all in one," said Clark. "One woman wore a cigar butt that he smoked in a golden locket for the rest of her life."

Liszt's life was long and full. He was not only a pianist, but a teacher, a father, a conductor, a composer and, for a time, a priest.

"He was always searching for beauty and truth," Clark said. "He was truly a unique human being."

Clark included a piece that Liszt wrote called a melodrama—like a mini-play, with music playing underneath. Clark describes this melodrama, "The Sad Monk," as "a prototype of what we tend to think of as a modern musical."

In celebration of what would be Liszt's 200th birthday, after its premiere in Tucson, Lisztian Loves will be headed to Chicago in July for another performance, at the Ravinia Festival.

"We're such specialists these days. Everyone has to do their own thing. And here's a guy that can do everything," Clark said about Liszt.

Tickets for Lisztian Loves are $60; student tickets are $25. —A.G.

An Obnoxious Day Turns Artistic

April Fool's Fest

7 p.m. to midnight, Friday, April 1

Sculpture Resource Center

640 N. Stone Ave.


The Sculpture Resource Center a unique art-studio space, offering resources to artists interested in everything from blacksmithing and stone-carving to jewelry making and digital media.

This year, on April Fool's Day, a big benefit/party is brewing. Though one might label the event as an art show, there's much more to the fest than simply art—including music by four different musical acts.

"The metal-sculptors there are going to make a 30-foot sculpture for the show," explained Michael Whitbylife, a planner of the fest, as well as a performer. At the end of the night, the audience will be able to throw some 1,500 magnetic LED lights at the sculpture to complete it.

Whitbylife, who got involved with the Sculpture Resource Center through his father, mentioned that the event is going to be filmed for use in a documentary about Tucson's art scene.

"The goal is to use the event to show the eclectic art scene here, to show that it is alive and thriving," said Whitbylife. He said people have a misconception about the art community in Tucson—similar to the misconception that many people have about Arizona being a red state.

Whitbylife believes in the importance of a cooperative effort surrounding art. "In the old days, back with the classics, patronage was what got you through," he said. "That's not how it works anymore. ... We have to help each other."

The biggest reason he believes you should go to the event, though, is simply because it's going to be a lot of fun.

"I don't think anyone can be left out of how much fun it will be," said Whitbylife.

Tickets are $5 in advance, at Bookmans or at the Sculpture Resource Center, or $8 at the door. —A.G.

Pawn Party!

Fourth Annual Chess Fest: "Through the Looking Glass"

2 to 5 p.m., Saturday, April 2

Hotel Congress

311 E. Congress St.


Jean Hoffman, co-founder and executive director of 9 Queens—a nonprofit organization dedicated to sharing chess with underprivileged communities—thinks that the world of chess is changing: It's no longer a world dominated by old white men playing in stuffy rooms.

Instead, Hoffman sees the chess community as a growing scene welcoming people of all ages and genders—and Hoffman is eager to welcome first-timers and seasoned players alike to the fourth annual Chess Fest.

"Really, this is like a chess fest slash party," Hoffman said. "This is one of the oldest games on Earth, and the world is full of closet chess players."

The Chess Fest has something to offer everyone, she promised.

"Most chess events are inside stuffy, poorly lit areas, but this is a cool chance to experience the game in a social, outdoor environment," she said. "In addition to a tournament, this year, we will also have free lessons and 'chess passports'—basically a page we offer attendants that describes a certain chess piece and allows them to rotate through stations that teach how the pieces work in the game."

According to Hoffman, chess stands out as an analytical game that encourages a fun approach to thinking.

"We've seen the power of chess in many young children," she explained. "Players learn to win and lose gracefully, and ... it is a way to reach students that may not particularly like math or other classes, and chess serves as a nontraditional means to teach them cognitive, concentration and reading skills."

Hoffman boldly claims that anyone and everyone can enjoy the game.

"In the past, we have even partnered with members of Wu-Tang Clan," she said. "They actually really enjoy and study the game."

Admission is free. —T.K.

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