Arizona State Museum Saturday, Dec 31 2016 

Arizona State Museum

Arizona State Museum

“Paths of Life: American Indians of the Southwest” examines the origins, history, and life today of the following cultures: Seri, Tarahumara, Yaqui, O’odham, Colorado River Yumas, Southern Paiute, Pai, Western Apache, Navajo, and Hopi.

“Snaketown: Hohokam Defined” uses 13 photographs to document the archaeological digs headed by Emil W. Haury 1934-35 and 1964-65 on Gila River Indian community lands. This site documented the complex irrigation systems, impressive ball courts, striking pottery, and remarkable jewelry of the Hohokam from 450-1450 A.D.

“Pieces of the Puzzle” features researchers at Archaeology Southwest answering the question of “What happened to the Hohokam culture?” The four puzzle pieces are:

  1. What does Hohokam mean?
  2. How do archaeologists determine how old things are?
  3. How do archaeologists know ancient people migrated?
  4. How do archaeologists count ancient people?

Their conclusion? The Hohokam population declined due to small changes in birth or death rates combined with some movement of people out of the region.

Pottery Project presents the world’s largest, most comprehensive collection of Southwest Native pottery. By the time we got to this exhibit we were too tired to really appreciate it.

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Arizona History Museum Saturday, Dec 31 2016 

Concord Stagecoach

Concord Stagecoach

The Arizona History Museum informed us through several interesting exhibits. A stagecoach built about 1860 in New Hampshire introduced us to transportation in Arizona. A 1923 Studebaker owned by a sheriff provided the company with an opportunity for publicizing their automobiles. A diorama highlights the experiment using camels in 1855 and 1856 to transport mail and military supplies. Did you know that one camel can carry the same load as 2 to 3 mules, travel 25-30 miles per day while needing little water and capable of eating desert vegetation?

“Chasing Villa,” the inaugural installation of History Lab, explores the legend and myth of Doroteo Arango a.k.a. Pancho Villa. Another exhibit focuses on “Geronimo! Leadership, Perseverance, Independence.” This exhibit also examines the man behind the legend of this Apache warrior. C. S. Fly photographs play an important part of this story.

In learning about those who settled Arizona, I was struck by the parallels with today’s political struggles. The 1880 federal census counted 1,630 Chinese in southern Arizona. In 1878, the Arizona legislature passed a law barring Chinese immigrants from working in mines. In 1882, the U. S. Congress prohibited immigration of Chinese laborers. In 1901, an Arizona law prohibited Chinese men from marrying Anglo women. Too bad we haven’t learned from these past forms of discrimination.

DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Friday, Dec 30 2016 

Mission in the Sun

Mission in the Sun

The Gallery in the Sun was designed and built by Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia and opened in 1965. In October 2006, this 10-acre Santa Catalina Mountain foothills site was added to the National Register of Historic Places. DeGrazia is known for his colorful paintings of native cultured of the Sonoran desert. His work includes oil paintings, watercolors, ceramics, and sculptures. We entered through a wooden door with holes filled with marbles. From the inside, the light enters in interesting ways. This gallery, designed to house DeGrazia’s work, includes several special exhibits. The Padre Kino collection honors this first Spanish explorer. I especially liked DeGrazia’s “Altar Valley Padre Kino Entrada 1687” and “Kino Prays.” The Cabeza de Vaca room recognizes the areas first non Indian artist in 1527. Papago Indian Legends explores following four Tohono O’odham stories: 1) Creation of the World, 2) Monster of Quitovac, 3) Eagle-man, and 4) Ho’ok, a wicked witch. The retrospective Collection,conveying DeGrazia’s compassion for the region’s native peoples, includes two of my favorites: “Third Class Bus” and “Self-Portrait in Pink.” The Yaqui Easter Ceremony has 40 paintings featuring the 40 days and nights celebrated by the Yaquis during Lent. Ah Ha Toro focuses on bullfights. My favorite was “Rebodora.” As we explored the grounds, we discovered the Mission in the Sun, built in 1952 in honor of Father Kino and dedicated to Our Lady of Guadalupe, patron saint of Mexico. The central ceiling is open. We also walked through the Little Gallery, featuring the work of photographer Steve Critchley. We paused at DeGrazia’s grave-site to honor this artist. It was interesting to learn more about DeGrazia.

Pima Air & Space Museum Friday, Dec 30 2016 

Douglas Skyhawk Attack Bomber

Douglas Skyhawk Attack Bomber

The Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the largest aviation museums in the country. I have previously visited the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C., the National Museum of the U. S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, and the William E. Boeing Red Barn Museum of Flight in Seattle, Washington. What impressed me most about the Pima Air & Space Museum was the amazing array of sizes and shapes of aircraft on display. It is hard to believe all of these planes can fly. When we entered Hangar 1, the Starr Bumble Bee was one of the first exhibits. In 1984 it was recognized as the smallest aircraft ever flown. It has a wingspan of 6 feet, 6 inches; a length of 9 feet, 4 inches; and a height of 4 feet, one inch. We took an open air tram tour of the aircraft located on the grounds. We had trouble hearing the narration that competed with several youngster’s voices. The tour included several fighters such as the Douglas A4D Skyhawk Attack Bomber. We also saw commercial and civil aircraft, transport and utility aircraft, Presidential and VIP aircraft, NASA aircraft, tankers, electronic aircraft, bombers, trainers, foreign fighters, and helicopters. We entered the 390th Memorial Museum that houses the “I’ll Be Around” B17. A former pilot greeted visitors and autographed his book. On our next visit we can see three more hangars and the Space Gallery. As we exited we encountered a 700 pound B61 nuclear bomb. With a President-elect who didn’t know what the nuclear triad was; made encouraging remarks for Japan, South Korea, and Saudi Arabia to acquire nuclear weapons; and publicly wondered why we hadn’t used nuclear bombs, we can only pray that we can survive the next four years.

Tucson Museum of Art Thursday, Dec 29 2016 

Ed Nativa "War Pony"

Ed Natiya “War Pony”

The Tucson Museum of Art incorporates several historic homes within where the early Presidio walls were located. One of the most interesting art pieces for me was “Quiet Moment in the West” by Wade Weber (1973- ). Weber uses what he calls “reverspective,” a visual effect using three-dimensional surfaces. The optical illusion involves tricking the eye to see walls facing in different directions when physically looking at the piece while moving sideways. The museum is rightly proud of their Auguste Rodin “Adam” sculpture. I especially enjoyed “Young Mother in a Grotto.” “El Nacimiento” is a traditional Mexican nativity scene that depicts Bible stories using hundreds of miniature figures. This special exhibit on display until March 19, 2017 is located in La Casa Codova, the oldest adobe home in downtown Tucson. Another major exhibition featured on three levels of the main building features “New Westward: Trains, Planes, and Automobiles That Move the Modern West.” My favorite was Ed Natiya’s whimsical “War Pony,” depicting Sitting Bull riding an “Indian” motorcycle. This exhibit is on display until February 12, 2017. Another historic home, the J. Knox Corbett House, built in 1907 in the mission revival style, has been refurbished with decorative pieces from the Arts and Crafts era. We were also impressed with the collection of Henry C. Balink (1882-1963) Native American Portraits. Another Western art collection is displayed in the nine-room Edward Nye Fish House. The special exhibit we spent the least amount of time in was “Poetic Minimalism.” Among several other exhibits, let me at least mention “A Traveler and His Treasures: Latin American Folk Art From the Peter C. Cecere Collection.” This exhibit contains representative examples from many different countries. The Tucson Museum of Art has something for everyone.

Old Tucson Thursday, Dec 29 2016 

Old Tucson

Old Tucson

2016 has been a year for learning about film locations outside Hollywood. During this past summer we visited both Moab and Lone Pine where we learned about their contributions to film history. On this trip we visited Old Tucson where we learned about its 400 film and television productions. Located about 12 miles west of Tucson, this replica of 1860 Tucson (originally built for the 1939 production of “Arizona”) is the most interesting of the three locations. After a half-hour guided tour, we saw “A Christmas Prayer” and “Grand Palace Musical Revue” in the Grand Palace Saloon. Overall, singers were weak but required versatility for acting and dancing in addition to singing. We got grandstand seats at the Mission set for the Hollywood Stunt Demonstration. The final stunts were strong while the earlier skits consumed time. We enjoyed the short train ride circling the grounds. The Iron Door Haunted Mine might entertain young boys, if not us. We didn’t pay extra for a stage coach ride or gold mining. We learned about the many stars who were in Tucson. My favorite was learning about Kenyon grad Paul Newman. The biggest surprise was that many episodes of “Little House on the Prairie” were filmed here. Now we need to see many classic Westerns such as “High Chaparrel.” Old Tucson is worth seeing.

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