Alondra de la Parra Sunday, Sep 27 2009 

Guest conductor Alondra de la Parra led the Phoenix Symphony Saturday evening.  Her elegant, exuberant style emphasized her circular arm movements with little leg movement.  This was my first concert with a woman leading the orchestra.  Hopefully the next will not be so long in coming.  It was our first visit to Symphony Hall which opened in 1972 and was renovated in 2004-05.  The leg room is expansive compared to the Ohio Theatre and seats provide excellent views of the stage.  This venue was designed for sound unlike the Ohio Theatre which opened for movies.  Adam Golka was the solist for Sergei Prokofiev’s Concerto No. 2 in G minor for Piano and Orchestra, op. 16.  His long, elastic fingers frolicked over the keyboard in his complex solo cadenzas.  Although said to be only twenty-two, his head slumped forward as his slouching posture left his tux appearing to be at least two sizes to big.  The evening’s performance  started with Alondra de la Parra, recently appointed Cultural Ambassador for Mexican Tourism,  conducting Sinfonia India (Symphony No. 2) by Mexican composer Carlos Chavez.  The evening concluded with Antonin Dvorak’s Symphony No. 8 in G major, op. 88.  Altogether, a fine evening of music.

Willow Lake Archaeological Interpretative Center Sunday, Sep 20 2009 

Willow Dells

Willow Dells

Prescott Culture was vibrant on the banks of Willow Creek during the 10th to 11th centuries.  The City of Prescott sponsored an archaeological dig during fall 2002 and spring 2003 that documents numerous prehistoric houses, outdoor storage pits, and cooking pits.  Two ramadas now shelter three of the twenty wooden pole frame, brush and mud covered pit houses that were part of this settlement.  After exploring this unexpected piece of the area’s history, we hiked through the scenic Willow Dells on the Canyon Trail which is a little more than eight tenths of a mile and the Basin Trail which is almost a half mile in length.  Both trails traverse through dramatic, colorful granite boulder formations.  Wild flowers continue to be in bloom.  Use insect repellent, however, as there are mosquitoes.  These trails are Prescott’s best kept secret!

Smoki Series Friday, Sep 18 2009 

Smoki Museuam

Smoki Museum

The Smoki Museum of American Indian and Culture, built as a replica of a Hopi Pueblo, exhibits artifacts, woven baskets, clothing, paintings and photographs of the Native American peoples of Northern Arizona.  The mission of the Smoki Museum is to instill understanding and respect for the indigenous cultures of the Southwest.  Docents provided six weekly programs on interesting topics.

Currently there is an exhibit of three photographers.  Gary Baumert, a docent at the Smoki, shared his insights on “Edward S. Curtis, the Shadowcatcher” and showed part of the film Coming to Light.  For thirty years Curtis photographed American Indians west of the Mississippi.  For five of those years he received funding from J. P. Morgan.  The remainder of the time he operated through shear grit.  The culmination of his work was a 20 volume work on the North American Indian published in 1929 with 2,200 plates featuring some 80 tribes.

“Kate T. Cory, Artist of Arizona,” according to docent Ginger Johnson, was born in 1861 in Waukegan, Illinois, spent time in NYC where she was internationally known for her art work.  From 1905-12 she lived among the Hopi people documenting their daily lives in photography.  She moved to Prescott in 1912 at age 51 where she painted using oil, watercolor, pencil and charcoal from her earlier photographs.  She remained in Prescott living into her 90s.  Her art work includes portraits, landscapes, still life, and magazine covers.  Her varied other pursuits include writing The Legend of Thumb Butte; a movie consultant authenticating Western movies for Hollywood; drafting airplane structure camouflage for the U.S.; designing book plates and covers, wallpaper, china, costumes, and museum displays; and assisting with the design of the Smoki Museum building.

“Kachinas, Katsinas or Tithu??” was explained by David Polhemus using illustrations to show the evolution of the Katsina tihu.   The Hopi calendar and their religion are key to understanding the significance of Katsinas.  During the early traditional period, 1880-1910, the cottonwood dolls were flat with details decorated with white clay and mineral paint on only the head.  Ha-Hay-iwuuti, smiling grandmother, was the first doll given to children.  During the late traditional period, 1910-1930, a cylindrical form was used with better body proportions, both feet on the ground, head facing forward and hands holding the belly.  Painted clothing or even fabric was used with string around the neck for hanging on such dolls as Kiva Chaco Hoya.  During the early action period, 1930-1945, arms were separate from the body in dance positions with organic costumes and acrylic paint on dolls such as Hunan Badger.  After 1945 the knees are bent and dolls might be signed.  In the late action period, 1950-1970, Katsinas such as Tunei-Niki became larger with more anatomical realism.  Federal law prohibited the use of eagle feathers.  The modern contemporary period, 1970s, use one piece of wood, drimel, with carved details accentuated by oil or acrylic paint and wood burning and bases incorporated into figures such as Crow Mother.  In the 1990s, the new traditional returned to natural paints and styles in dolls such as Paqua.  Women started carving during this time.

“Baskets of Arizona and California” presented by Bob Seng identified characteristics of basket weaving by different tribes during the 1900-1930 period.  Baskets served many purposes including seed gathering, seed beaters, collecting and processing acorns, pigeon snares, storing water, cradles, apparel especially hats, ceremonies, gambling trays, gifts and presentations.  Weaving techniques were also used for housing, fish traps and even boats.  Weaving techniques such as coiling, twisting, and plaiting vary by tribe.  Also the materials used helps identify who weaved a basket.  The Yavapai, for example, used symmetrical designs on willow, tan sewing material, devil’s claw, for dark design material, and yucca root, for red design work.

James Christopher, a member of the Yavapai Chapter of the Arizona Archaeological Society, lectured on “Prescott Prehistory: Life in Prescott before 1500 AD.”  He shared the work of J. W. Simmons, an amateur archaeologist, who did some of the early work and published his findings in Yavapai Magazine (1931).   The pit houses at Willow Creek are characteristic of the Prescott phase (850-1000).  The 27 room pueblo in the Prescott Valley Fitzmaurice site is an example of the Chino phase (1000-1300).  Although their religious practices are unknown, figurines of humans, most broken (perhaps to release the spirit) are often found in burial sites.  Burials feature the body on its back whereas the Hohokam cremated.  Animal figurines, some with macaw feathers, have been found.  Jewelry was very popular using turquoise, shells, argillite (which was also exported)  Examples of rock art, petroglyphs, are also found in this area.  We don’t know what happened to Prescott Culture but their was a severe drought 1270-1300.   The Verde Confederation gathered on Perry Mesa 1280-1380.  Perhaps remnants of the population become Yavapai or integrated with the Yavapai.  When whites arrived the Yavapai numbered about 1,500 organized in five bands.

“Pottery and Lithics,” presented by Charley Krauskopf, focused on Prescott gray ware, one of some 740 types of pottery found in the southwest.  Depending upon the firing process, local pottery is either black on gray or aquarius orange.  Less than 20% was decorated.  Initially decorations were in the inside, later on the outside.  The local pottery typically has some mica but it is a mystery as to the source.  Although this pottery has never been highly prized, pieces were traded and have been found in Utah, Nevada, and California.  Examples of lithics include agave knives, points, pestles for grinding, axes, arrow straighteners, scrapers, polishing stones, and cooking stones.

Empty Bowls Sunday, Sep 13 2009 

The Prescott Courthouse Plaza was the location for the 12th annual Empty Bowls event sponsored by Unitarian Universalists from the Granite Peak UU Congregation and the Prescott UU Fellowship.  The event officially started at 11 a.m. and by the time we arrived at 11:30 the line was a quarter of the way around the Courthouse.  More than forty artisans contributed ceramic bowls.  More than two dozen local chefs prepared soups.  For a contribution of $15 each person selected a handmade bowl and could fill it twice from a variety of soups.  The proceeds from this event benefit Yavapai County food banks.  Our long wait was shortened by good conversation.  We savored our soups while supporting those who are less fortunate.

Senior Open Monday, Sep 7 2009 

The 2009 U. S. Senior Open Chess Championship was held over the Labor Day weekend in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Fifty-two chess players age 50 or older participated in the six round event.  My record of four wins and two losses topped those rated Under 1900 and paid $200.  I won both rounds on the last day against higher rated opponents.  My win in the morning session featured my favorite opening, the King’s Gambit.  Although most chess players consider the advantage to be with the player of the White pieces, all of my other contests ended with Black victories.  In my last round game, my opponent spurned my draw offer only to later blunder and lose.  To win in competitive chess usually requires a little luck.  Fortunately, I was the recipient of some luck this time.    My opponents were from the following states: New Jersey, Oklahoma, Florida, Indiana, Texas, and Ohio. Grandmaster Larry Christiansen, the top rated player, qualified for the U. S. Closed by winning with five games and drawing once.  Grandmaster Larry Kaufman was clear second with five points, four wins and two draws.  He is the defending World Senior Chess Champion and qualified, by reason of being the top finisher age 60 or older, to defend his title in Italy in October.  Interestingly, my high finish put me in the succession list for this honor to represent the U.S.  Several other chess tournaments were held simultaneously, including the first U. S. Women’s Chess Championship, the Okie Open, and the Okie Master’s Invitational.  It has been two years since my last over-the-board chess tournament.  What a great return and first Senior Open!