THE ENVELOPE, PLEASE: Let us not allow the old year to slide completely into oblivion without taking note of prizes recently won by local workers in the art vineyards.
Among the major winners in the waning days of 1994 were poet and writer Rita Maria Magdaleno and photographer José Galvez. Both got $5,000 in Artist Project grants from the Arizona Commission on the Arts. Interestingly, both intend to do projects documenting Mexican-American life in southern Arizona.
Magdaleno will use her money to create an oral history of Miami, the Arizona mining town her family hails from. She will interview Mexican-American men and women whose lives revolved around the copper mines. Another local author, Patricia Preciado Martin (Songs My Mother Sang to Me), will collaborate with her on the project, titled Miami: Oral History of an Arizona Mining Town. Chris Marin, curator of the ASU Chicano Studies Research Collection, will search the archives for old materials on the town. Photographer Jacob Martinez will restore any old photos and make new ones.
Magdaleno's short story "Cuato" is included in Walking the Twilight: Women Writers of the Southwest, the new anthology published by Northland Press. Her poetry appears in several anthologies, including New Chicana/Chicano Writing, Volumes 1 & 2, and Greg McNamee's Named in Stone and Sky, both published by the UA Press.
José Galvez, photographer and owner of the José Galvez Gallery on Fourth Avenue, will use his money for a photography project he's calling New Visions. He intends to photograph everyday life and celebrations among Mexican-Americans living in the barrios and rural areas of Pima and Santa Cruz counties.
Galvez has been photographing Latinos for many years. He worked as a staff photographer for the Arizona Daily Star and at the Los Angeles Times, and, in the last two years since he returned to Tucson, as an independent. He won a Pulitzer Prize at the Times for his photographs for the Latino Project. A change in camera will distinguish the new pictures from his previous photos of Latino life. Instead of a 35-millimeter camera, he'll use a 2 1/2 inch camera lens.
A couple of local filmmakers won not money but acclaim for their documentary about an ancient Tohono O'odham game played only by women. Toka, made by Cyndee and Dave Wing, won in the category of Best Documentary: Short Film at the American Indian Film Festival Awards, held in San Franciso in November. The 24-minute movie, made in color, features Tohono O'odham women describing the crucial place of the game in the nation's culture. Offering a score of traditional music, the film also shows games between some older women and among young Girl Scouts, who pledge to keep the game alive.
The Wings, Tucson residents who teach film/video production at Pima College, have completed two other movies on Tohono O'odham culture. They are at work on a fourth, Waila, about Tohono O'odham music. Presidio Film Group is the Wings' production company.
FROM BLEAK TO PEAK: The bleak terrain north of City Hall will get a welcome facelift in the early months of 1995. On the design team that won the commission for the renovation are Elizabeth A. Wheat, a landscape architect with Wheat/Gallaher Associates, Marvin Feld, an independent landscape architect, and Melody Peters, artist.
The site used to be Sunset Park, which graced the entrance to the old City Hall. There are still some 1930s monuments there and a big sycamore tree left over from the old park. In even earlier days, the gate to the old Spanish presidio was on the site. The design plan calls for public art, seating, desert vegetation, land contouring and wheelchair accessibility. Besides creating a welcome urban oasis that acknowledges the neighborhood's history, the new design will actually offer more parking spaces, along the street, than the current parking lot does.
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