Water, Water Everywhere

Despite the heat, Saturday night's Summer Art Cruise keeps things flowing with its nautical theme

In a faded vintage photo at Raices Taller Gallery, two women scrub their family laundry in metal tubs.

Their sudsy water, pictured in a Ceci Garcia art shrine honoring her female ancestors, may be the only H2O in evidence during Saturday night's Summer Art Cruise. Tucson may be dry as dust, but the Central Tucson Gallery Association nevertheless is sticking to its nautical theme, as it launches multiple art openings in the Warehouse District, Fourth Avenue and Downtown.

Some nine ports o' call--ahem, galleries--will fling open their hatches in what everyone hopes will be the cool of the evening on June 4. The exhibitions range from an all-woman show at Raices, Women Woman Mujeres, to the Davis Dominguez annual Small Works to the first Absolutely Nothing photography salon at Platform.

Nearly all the galleries are doing group exhibitions, with the exception of FALA, where Phoenix artist Diana Clauss has a one-woman show of multimedia paintings in crinkled silk, urethane and oil. Dinnerware's Salon des Refusés, featuring 80 artists who didn't make it into the juried Biennial at the Tucson Museum of Art, marks the gallery's last show in its Fourth Avenue location. Dinnerware will re-open in September in the Steinfeld Warehouse.

But art won't be the only thing flowing. The Santa Cruz River Band--named for the lost river that once cooled Tucson and gave life to shady riverbank cottonwoods--will play live in the back room of Raices Taller. Despite the heat, down at the Philabaum studio on South Sixth Avenue, "We're going to spin out big flowers" in a glassblowing demo, glass artist Tom Philabaum says.

The Tucson Museum of Art, optimistically trying to conjure up the wet Caribbean, stages "Island Hoppin'," an outdoor "beach party" with music by reggae band Neon Prophet. The party starts at 8 p.m. and costs $15 (624-2333). The museum, currently showing the aforementioned Arizona Biennial '05, will remain open for partygoers until 10 p.m.

And the Fashionistas play for free in the Rialto lobby, where Hilary Meehan debuts her new ceiling mural.

The thrice-yearly joint openings and related events bring much-needed attention to the burgeoning gallery scene, participants agree.

"They help tremendously," says Lauren Gregersen-Brown, who opened FALA Gallery last September. "Once people know you're here, then they come back."

For smooth sailing on the Art Cruise, consult this manifest, or pick up a map and schedule at the galleries or at the Tucson Pima Arts Council.

Raices Taller Gallery, 222 E. Sixth St., 881-5335. 6-9 p.m. Three female members of the Latino co-op, Garcia, Lisa Scadron and Neda Contreras, staged the invitational all-woman show, in part to make the point that women still don't get their due from museums, art historians or critics. The 45 artists include Leora Briggs, who has made an intricately detailed scratchboard drawing of a Baghdad bombing. Pima College photography head Ann Simmons-Myers contributed richly pigmented color photos, including the wrenching "Pandadura Refugee Camp/Sri Lanka." Apparently taken in the wake of the tsunami, it pictures survivors, including a grim-faced grandmother holding a little girl.

To-Reè-Neè Wolf Keiser made a soothing piece that conjures up a cool stream, combining silver sheets of metal, blue and purple paint, glistening river rock and dozens of smooth ceramic tiles in every shade of blue.

Garcia's "Amor y Recuerdos" pays tribute to her female forebears, who labored in Superior, Arizona, running the households and raising the children while their men were down in the mines. In addition to the old family photos, she's lined the shelves of the green-painted shrine with salsa bottles filled with beads and bits of lace, tiny treasures these women might have prized. Women Woman Mujeres closes Saturday, June 25.

Raices Taller president John Salgado said that the Santa Cruz River Band concert kicks off a new series of live events the gallery hopes to host, from poetry to music to performance art. The musical duo, consisting of Ted Ramirez and Mike Ronstadt, will set up semi-permanent headquarters in the gallery's back studio, which has been cleaned up to accommodate a portable stage.

"They'll give concerts about four times a year," Salgado says. "This will be their home base. We'll have other groups come in, too."

Platform Gallery, 439 N. Sixth Ave., 189B, 882-3886, 6-9 p.m. Absolutely Nothing shows off work by 11 photographers, including locals Ken Rosenthal, Kristin Giordano, Ken Shorr and others. No offense intended to the artists, says gallery director Phoebe McDermott. "We're just trying to have a collection of photography, with no particular theme. The work is figurative, abstract, digital and more traditional." The exhibition is up through Saturday, July 30.

FALA Gallery, 439 N. Sixth Ave., 189A, 628-4183, 6-9 p.m. Artist Diana Clauss will be on hand for the Art Cruise. Her mixed-media work, on view until the end of June, falls into two categories, Gregersen-Brown says. One group of paintings on board has apertures at the center, filled with painted landscapes. The second series is more about "pattern on pattern."

Davis Dominguez Gallery, 154 E. Sixth St., 6-8 p.m. The 13th annual Small Works Invitational this year features 83 artists. "The irony is that the gallery is known for big paintings and sculpture," says co-owner Mike Dominguez. "This is the reverse of that. But this is not a show of miniatures. This is asking artists who do big work to make one small painting or sculpture."

Santa Theresa Tile Works, 439 N. Sixth Ave., 623-8640, 7-9 p.m. "We'll exhibit our own handmade tile," says Leslie Gamble, sister of tile artist Susan Gamble, "and other artists' handmade tile." The Gamble sisters' coffee and culinary enterprise Flying Saucer, just north of the showroom, will also open for the evening.

Falk Gallery, 220 N. Fourth Ave., 628-9601, 5-9 p.m. The eponymous gallery formerly known as 3Falk displays a summer mix of gallery artists, including George E. Huffman, a former Tucson Weekly employee and ex-owner of the now-defunct Raw Gallery. Now living in Texas, Huffman is working on a series called "Little Girl Lost," which examines "loneliness and traveling" in landscape paintings that are almost traditional, according to gallery owner Jason Falk. Other painters include Cristina Cárdenas, Gwyneth Scally Mark Bennion and Shana Zimmerman. The show will stay up all summer.

Falk moved the gallery last year from downtown to Fourth Avenue. "We really love the new location," Falk says. "We get a better quality of traffic. People are buying."

The Drawing Studio Gallery, 214 N. Fourth Ave., 620-0947, 6-8 p.m. Solutions Designs exhibits "work from the design course sequence at the Drawing Studio taught by Pat Marohn," says executive director Lynn Fleischman. "She teaches design fundamentals: how you compose things on a page and make decisions about shape, line and color." Seventy works by some 30 to 40 adult students are on view.

Dinnerware Contemporary Art Gallery, 210 N. Fourth Ave., 792-4503, 7-10 p.m. TMA contemporary curator Julie Sasse "was happy to help us" put together the Salon des Refusés, says executive director Blake Shell. "We looked at all the slides" of artists turned down "and we cut it down by about half again. It's exciting to see how much talent is in Arizona." The 80 artists making the Dinnerware cut, representing a variety of different media and styles, include the Weekly's Rand Carlson, Greg Benson, Sally Krommes and Red Rohall. The show is up through Saturday, June 18.

Philabaum Studios, 711 S. Sixth Ave., 884-7404, 5-8 p.m. The main gallery has long since moved uptown to St. Philip's Plaza, but the small gallery adjacent to the glassblowing studio is exhibiting works by Tom Philabaum. In the hot workshop, you can see Philabaum himself, along with assistants, blowing glass into giant flowers in multiple hues.

Rialto Theatre, 318 E. Congress St., 740-0126, 7-9 p.m. Hilary Meehan's white-on-blue ceiling mural, "Evolutionary Kinetic Status Report in the Key of Blue," stretches a whopping 50 feet by 20 feet. The Fashionistas play at the free reception in the lobby of the recently renovated theatre, and food and drink will flow. Reception attendees get free entry to the 9 p.m. band blowout, headlined by the Jons, the Solace Brothers, the Sweat Band and Lagoon. Everyone else pays $4.

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