City Week

Girls Helping Girls

Gender-rights activist Betty Makoni: lecture and film-screening

Lecture: 4 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 13Film: 4 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14

Women's Studies Building, 925 N. Tyndall Ave., Room 100


"I have been looking for justice all my life," said Betty Makoni, a gender activist from Zimbabwe.

During her search, she has created an international organization to empower girls and has worked to raise awareness about gender violence, equality and HIV/AIDS.

Makoni will lecture about her experiences on Thursday at the UA. A film featuring Makoni called Tapestries of Hope will be shown on Friday, followed by an open discussion. The documentary addresses the myth that a man can cure himself of HIV/AIDS by raping a virgin.

Makoni's dedication is rooted in personal experience. She was raped when she was 6 years old, and domestic violence left her an orphan.

Despite the challenges, Makoni eventually attended the University of Zimbabwe, where she graduated with a degree in linguistics.

Along the way, she realized her story was not unique: Many girls she met shared similar backgrounds, particularly those who had dropped out of school.

"If I overcame all these problems, why can't I just use my stories at something that motivates girls?" Makoni recalled thinking.

Her experiences led to the creation of the Girl Child Network Worldwide. With Makoni at the helm, the organization provides funds for education, mentoring and support for girls who have suffered sex abuse or are at risk for it. It's now an international network of more than 900 clubs, according to the organization's website. Makoni speaks at universities and shelters around the world.

"I didn't want to be a little girl crying in my little village," she said. "I wanted to take my story to the global level, to say, 'This is wrong. Let's correct it globally.'"

Both the lecture and the film screening are free. —M.D.

Lost and Found Art

Running Amok

11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, from Saturday, Dec. 15, through Saturday, Jan. 26 (closed Dec. 23 through Jan. 1)

Conrad Wilde Gallery, 439 N. Sixth Ave., No. 195


Another man's trash can be an artist's muse. Zippers, driftwood, wire and yarn are transformed into works of art in Conrad Wilde Gallery's newest show, Running Amok.

"It's pretty typical of what we do here," said gallery associate Brittney Palomarez. "We're just trying to get some new artists with different techniques."

The show features five women: Katrina Lasko, Elizabeth Sheppell, Gina Telcocci, Sandra Vista and Daniella Woolf.

Vista's "Aurelio of Camp Little" was inspired by a salvage-yard find of more than 20 pounds of zipper tabs. She painted and affixed more than 2,500 tabs to canvas panels. The resulting design is a hypnotic swirl of color.

Vista also paints, but has enjoyed working with mixed media and found objects since childhood.

"They have energy from somebody else," Vista said of found objects. "They have a lot of weight to them, and a lot of personality."

Oakland, Calif., artist Gina Telcocci uses found natural objects to create many of her pieces. Each of her three sculptures in the show incorporates a piece of driftwood that appears to float inside a wire sphere.

"I think of them as kind of looking like the object spun its own cage, like a cocoon," Telcocci said.

She used methods similar to basket-weaving to create each cocoon.

"It's a lot of small pieces that by themselves are not that strong, but when woven together, they form a really kind of resilient structure," Telcocci said.

Telcocci and Vista might "run amok" in order to find materials for their creations, but their work is an effort to make sense of chaos.

"I take a confusing mass of materials and organize it in a very orderly fashion," Telcocci said.

The event is free. —M.D.

Fairy Tale Twist

Gingerbread Man: A Puppet Show and Holiday Fiesta

4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 15 and 16

Puppets Amongus Playhouse, 657 W. St. Mary's Road


Puppets Amongus debuted its new Playhouse earlier this fall—and now the halls are decked for the holidays.

The December show features the timeless tale of the cheeky Gingerbread Man, with a few surprises. Hint: A wily coyote replaces the cunning fox from the original story.

"Our version of it has a Southwest twist to it," said Sarah Cotten, who runs Puppets Amongus with her husband, Matt.

Gingerbread Man is usually a one-man show for Matt Cotten. Sarah lends a hand with the props and is also a puppeteer at bigger productions.

Jimmy Carr, of Jimmy Carr and the Awkward Moments, will accompany the action on his accordion. Although the show follows a plot, there's always a bit of improvisation.

"It's the type of entertainment that is interactive," Sarah said. "It's not at all like sitting in front of the television and sort of quietly watching what's going on."

After the show, the Snatwell Family Four, a local folk band, will set the tone for ornament-making, singing and snacking on natural sweet treats.

It was the Cottens' work as sculptors that led to a now-15-year-long career in puppetry.

"At a certain point, we became bored with the visual-art gallery scene and came to animate the sculptures we were making," Sarah said.

For the Cottens, that turned out to be an excellent idea.

"People of all ages love it," Sarah said, "sometimes in different ways."

Admission is $8 for adults, and $6 for kids ages 3 to 12. —M.D.

Holiday Shopping, Tucson-Style

Mercado San Agustín's Annual Holiday Bazaar

11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday, Dec. 14, through Sunday, Dec. 16

Mercado San Agustín, 100 S. Avenida del Convento


When Kira Dixon-Weinstein, executive director of Mercado San Agustín, moved to Tucson from New York, she thought a holiday bazaar would be a great addition to the mercado.

Dixon-Weinstein was a regular at the holiday bazaar that is held every year at New York's Union Square Park. The outdoor market has more than 100 vendors and lasts about a month.

"When I moved here, I knew Tucson needed a holiday bazaar of its own," Dixon-Weinstein said.

Five years ago, when Dixon-Weinstein began preparations for the Mercado Holiday Bazaar, she also took inspiration from bazaars in Austin, Texas, and various cities in Germany.

The first bazaar turned out to be a success, and has grown into a holiday tradition for many.

Dixon-Weinstein wanted the bazaar to also be a strong promoter of local businesses, and to celebrate Tucson's culture. Through the years, the event has included some of the city's best chefs, artisans, painters and merchants.

"It is important that we spend our money locally," Dixon-Weinstein said. "The bazaar has a variety of local products and vendors, so that people are able to do a lot of their Christmas shopping there instead of at a big corporation."

The three-day bazaar includes live music and children's activities, as well as the introduction of an El Nacimiento exhibit, which will feature a historical collection from the Menlo Park neighborhood, home to the mercado.

"The bazaar has something for everyone to enjoy," Dixon-Weinstein said. "We hope everyone will come out, support our local talent, and partake in this local holiday tradition."

Admission is free.—I.T.

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