Sunday, December 31, 2006

Zee's Warehouse

Photos from Zee's Mineral Gallery in the warehouse district. They sell an eclectic mix of fossils, minerals, antiquities and artwork. And let me say the place is just amazing to walk through.

I posted not too long ago about artists in the warehouse district being evicted from the Steinfeld Warehouse. At the same time the galleries in Zee's building also got notices. However, they've all gotten a 2 month extension on the evictions and the artists groups are trying to work with the city of Tucson to prevent the evictions and/or work towards giving the artists ownership or equity in the buildings while at the same time making sure that the buildings are safe. The city maintains that there are serious structural problems, such as stress fractures in load bearing walls in the Steinfeld Warehouse. More here and here.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

El Nacimiento Continued

La Casa Cordova is now owned by the Tucson Museum of Art and has been the site of El Nacimiento since 1978. The creator, Maria Luisa Tena, carries on a tradition learned from her mother, growing up near Guadalajara, Mexico. The display is a combination of scenes from the bible with scenes of Mexican folk life. There are hundreds of figures collected by Maria and her family over the years. I found the detail remarkable. Each little house is furnished, has typical items you might see in such a house, dishes on the tables, brooms and such, dogs, sheep and other animals, children playing, people of all ages, angels, even a little red devil in one scene. And this is carried through many many scenes with accompanying plants and lights. Clearly a labor of love.

Friday, December 29, 2006

El Nacimiento

In Casa Cordova, the oldest house in El Presidio. Details tomarrow.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

From the El Presidio District

These images are from the El Presidio District. Tucson was a Tohono O'odham settlement, having been occupied for thousands of years by various native groups, when the Spanish came. They built a Presidio there, at the end of a chain of forts extending up from Mexico. The new Presidio of San Agustín del Tuquison was literally at the end of the world as they knew it.

The site was selected by Don Hugo O'Conor, an Irishman, in 1775. O'Conor had served in New Spain as commander of a Presidio and governor of Texas before being promoted to inspector of military presidios and had a long history of fighting the Apaches tribes, who were the primary reason the Spanish felt a need for defensive forts. He was nicknamed El Capitán Colorado because of his red hair.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Wednesday on Sixth Street

A short block, between Ohio St. and Illinois St. (these are, by the way, all names of states in the US). The usual car/tire related shop, another flower shop and a music
store. New in this block a carneceria (which sells meat). Two billboards, one for MacDonalds says "Despierta contenta" with an illustration of breakfast food (Wake up happy!) and another for a gun show at the Tucson Exposition Center. A wash (dry creek bed) at the end of the block.

The sign says "Meat for roasting" and underneath, "We roast your meat for free" (carne asada is popular here) and on the right side, "camaron" is shrimp. I don't know what "marqueta" means in relation to shrimp. Would be glad to be corrected by any Spanish speakers.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

After the Holiday is Over

Downtown Tucson late last night. After I took this photo, I took a right turn on the street ahead. Totally missed the arrow pointing the other way. Fortunately no one saw me driving the wrong way on a one-way street. I drove down there after work hoping for interesing photos Christmas-wise and I was tired and got kinda confused by how different the streets look at night. I wonder if a cop would have given me a ticket this time of year?

My exploration of Sixth Street continues tomarrow. I've decided to change it to Wednesdays since that's usually a day off from work for me and I'll have more time to take and work with the photos and get the post up a whole lot earlier.

Monday, December 25, 2006

After Midnight: St. Augustine Cathedral

Sunday, December 24, 2006

*********Merry Christmas!********

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Ho! Ho! Ho! Roar!

While this looks like some very low budget Godzilla at Christmas movie, it is actually just me trying to get a photo late at night of a poorly lit dinosaur with my not so great built-in flash. The dinosaur is a year round feature outside a well known fast food restaurant here and is life-sized (Tyrannosaurus life-sized). No its not technically a great photo but I liked the way it turned out anyway. The only on computer alterations I did were sharpening it and reducing the size.

Friday, December 22, 2006

They Were Giants

Facing the alley in back of the Chicago Music store, there is a mural with a night cityscape and two surviving jazz musicians with roughly 30 ft (about 10 m) of graffiti covering whoever was originally painted between them. The Chicago Music store dates from the 1940's and quite possibly the inside looks now like it did 60 years ago. I didn't have the nerve to take photos, It was fairly dark inside, would have required flash, hardly unobtrusive, and the folks weren't particularly friendly.

Its a place for serious musicians, you wind your way through a labyrinth of shelves with distant views of higher levels and things in shadows, high ceilings and far corners, no obvious order. When I was there, in one corner accoustic guitar was being played with some authority, somewhere out of sight. A place for people who believe the music is more important than appearances. If you know what you're looking for you will find it.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Garden Cherub

In the garden of the Women's Kraft Gallery on Stone St.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Sixth Street Beckons Once Again

Sixth between Oklahoma St. and Ohio St. Despite the very Anglo American street names, this part of 6th is still largely Hispanic. Small businesses line the west side, with the rodeo grounds across the street on the east. The four Santa Claus's are pinatas, a curious notion if you think about it. More about pinatas in general here and here a more historic perspective. I found it surprising that pinatas probably originated in China.

Also of interest - Pollos Asadas al Carbon Restaurant with a charcoal grill outside in front so the whole block smelled like charcoal grilled meat. Next to that a restaurant offering both mongolian stir fry and sushi with live Tex-Mex music, now out of business. Of note farther down the street a handmade boot shop, also going out of business, a dress shop with a Statue of Liberty in front, a petshop in what appears to be an old quonset hut.

And two Mormon Missionaries I encountered while taking photos. They were nice guys, sincere and committed in their beliefs. We had a friendly conversation and they continued up the street on their bicycles. Part of the rodeo arena shows up behind them.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Scottish Rite Cathedral


Built in 1915 for the Scottish Rite Freemasons, this is a huge rectangular building that pretty much dominates the area where it sits. A bit ponderous for my taste, it just exudes massiveness and power.

Who are the Scottish Rite Freemasons? As it turns out the question is really who are the Freemasons. Quoting from Wikipedia,
"Freemasonry is a Fraternal organization whose membership is held together by shared Morality and Metaphysics ideals and—in most of its branches—by a constitutional declaration of belief in a Supreme Being".

They use allegory related to medieval stone masons to teach moral lessons, such as one should "square their actions by the square of virtue". They have reputation for being secretive and appear to have a quite remarkable internal culture of private language and ritual. Oddly enough Freemasonry has been criticized by organized religions because they see it as an attempt to create a religion (which the Freemasons absolutely deny) which engages in unorthodox beliefs and practices.

Women cannot become Freemasons though they can join auxillary groups (in the US, see comments).

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Two More From the Fair

The top photo is Barbie yet again (see her here and here from July). I am oddly fascinated with her changes in personna, maybe because she has such mournful eyes. The bottom photo is of two street musicians I saw performing later. I liked the way the guy in the blue t-shirt just stopped out of curiousity.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Xmas Lights

Just in the last few days a lot of people have gotten the Christmas lights up on their houses so I drove around tonight taking photos. Reindeer, snowmen and santas are popular this year, especially if they move. The bottom photo is of a whole house, to give a sense of scale. In that photo the snowman tips his hat and the reindeer move their heads up and down and in the second from the top photo of the santa train, the wheels turn.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Two From The Chapel of the Sun

Top photo inside the DeGrazia chapel - I just liked the tenderness of the father and child together among the angels on the wall - and above, the chapel from the outside. The paper bags on top of the walls are luminarias, a Christmas tradition I first encountered when I lived in Albuquerque. At the simplest, a luminaria is just a paper bag with a candle stuck in sand inside. When the candles are lit inside the bags, the effect is rather lovely at night.

See Dec. 16, Minneapolis Daily Photo for a terrific photo of luminarias at night.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Street Massage

The Fourth Ave Street Fair has been held since 1970 and has its roots I think in the notion of the renaissance fair combining street performers, music, food, arts and crafts sold. I've been going to it off and on for about 12 years and I think its moved away from street entertainment and spectacle to more of an emphasis on it being a shopping experience. There were however this year still a few people offering things like body painting, tarot card reading and massages.

Its held twice a year, in March and December and attracts craftspersons and artistis from all over the country. This December there were more than 400 booths.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Light and Paper

Saw this at the Fourth Ave St Fair, a few days ago. Lovely work. Artists are Yoshi and Susie Aoki of Seaside, Oregon. See more here about their business, Blue Tree Lightworks.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

If Its Tuesday It Must Be....

Sixth street between Irvington and Oklahoma, a short but interesting block. At Irvington, the street becomes 6th and the street scape is more like a city (sidewalks!). On the west side is Las Chepas auto sales (and notary). Its not clear if the they are still in business but I like the guy on the roof.

On the east side is the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum. Tucson has a rodeo every February that is a big deal, the schools are closed (even the university), there's a parade and all. I will admit I've never been to the parade or the rodeo. So I wandered into the museum without much enthusiasm and found it really quite fascinating. I don't really have enough room to get into the details here, but I thought since I showed a modern police vehicle yesterday, I'd show one from roughly a hundred years ago today. Prisoners sometimes made the trip to the infamous terriorial prison in Yuma over the course of several weeks in the back of this vehicle, in the dust and the heat.

Monday, December 11, 2006

GEM car

This friendly cop volunteered to be photographed and hardly anybody does that for me so he deserves a day on this blog. And I like the little car. I found out later it is electric powered and is called a GEM car. One of the fun things about a google search is the oddities you sometimes come up with. Guess who else (see here) drives a GEM car, at least for photo ops. Rather ironic, I think.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Dancer at the DeGrazia Fiesta

From La Fiesta de Guadalupe at the DeGrazia Gallery of the Sun.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Hanging Out at the Street Fair

Friday, December 08, 2006

Sonora Downtown

Viewed up close and from the downtown Main Library, from a third floor window. The red sculpture that I unkindly referred to previously as the "spider" is called Sonora. I've taken so many photos of it that its beginning to grow on me. According to a handout from the library, its forms are are abstracted from recognizable natural objects like Native American kivas and baskets, palm trees, mountains, dust devils, feathers on arrows and water flowing over rocks. Its creator is David Black.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Jo, Jo, Jo!

It is about time I got something Christmas related up on this blog. There are many Spanish language billboards in Tucson though most of them are found on the south side of Tucson and particularly the southwest side which is predominantly Hispanic.

According to Wikipedia as of the 2000 census, the population of Tucson was 486,699 of which 70.15% white, 4.33% black or African-American, 2.27% Native American, 2.46% Asian, 0.16% Pacific Islander, 16.85% from other races, and 3.79% from two or more races. 35.72% of the population were Hispanic of any race.

Shoppers from Mexico spend an estimated $1 million per day in Tucson.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Winter Flowers

On Monday, I went hiking in the desert and discovered flowers blooming. This is somewhat surprising in winter without any recent rain but then desert plants are opportunists, their seeds can live in the soil for years waiting for the right conditions.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Sauntering Up Sixth....

The long Dexel to Irvington block of the Old Nogales Hwy, transitions through railroad tracks, weeds and desert, salvage yards and auto repair shops, country bars, and restaurants to a city park and the El Pueblo social services complex of buildings at Irvington. The photos above are all from the north end of the block.

The Old Nogales Hwy changes its name to 6th Street at Irvington.