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Music, performing arts and visual arts come together under the (mostly) full moon


A Mykl Wells sculpture fresh from the Burning Man Festival in Nevada will help light up Oracle's own GLOW festival this weekend.

Or, come to think of it, "maybe not so fresh," jokes Sharon Holnback, an artist who is putting together GLOW, a "nighttime art experience," for the third time. After all, Burning Man, the raucous art fest celebrated by upwards of 35,000 people, concluded Monday, Sept. 4, in the Black Rock Desert with a giant bonfire.

Assuming the Wells sculpture hasn't turned to ash, GLOW goers will find it under the light of the nearly full moon on one of the desert paths at Holnback's Triangle L Ranch. The piece is a big lighted tent, ornamented with digital projections.

"I've seen some photos of it," Holnback says. "The tent's about 20 feet tall, with the images projected inside. He really goes all out." For last year's GLOW, Wells made a self-portrait writ large, a "big inflated cloth head almost 20 feet tall" that bobbled in the evening breeze.

His new piece will be one of at least a dozen lighted sculptures by local artists that will be set up on the annual sculpture walk, timed to coincide as closely as possible with the full moon. Visitors taking the nighttime stroll along the ranch's winding paths will find the cactuses and mesquites lit by the art.

"All the sculptures need to involve creative illumination," Holnback explains.

But electrified visual art is not the only moonbeam in the GLOW spectrum. Musicians and performance artists will take to a lighted main stage, while independent souls may set up their instruments in impromptu performance spaces in the wash. DJ Kidd Squidd will spin moon tunes in between live sets and for a full two hours during an outdoor dance Friday night. Art work and light projections will grace the gallery barn, and food and soft drinks will be for sale.

"It's constantly evolving until the last minute," Holnback notes. "That's what's fun."

A sculptor who also runs a bed and breakfast out of the historic ranchhouse, Holnback organized the eclectic art festival for one night under the July full moon two years ago. She got so many attendees, mostly driving up from Tucson, that last year, she expanded GLOW to two nights. Now it's an institution.

"It's become something people expect and look forward to," she says. "We had 1,000 people last year, 300 the first night, and 700 the second. It never felt crowded, though. People were coming and going all evening."

This month's full moon is Thursday the seventh, so Holnback fudged a bit in selecting Friday and Saturday nights for GLOW. "That's as close as we could get," she says. But the moon will still be plenty big when it rises over the nearby Catalinas. According to a Navy weather Web site, moonrise is 7:23 p.m. Friday, and the moon will be waning just a tad, with 98 percent visibility. Moonrise Saturday is 7:55 p.m., and the moon will have waned to 94 percent visibility. The festivities begin at 8 p.m.

Visual artists typically respond to the GLOW mandate with witty inventiveness. Mary Lucking, a veteran of the last two years, has come up with "interactive creatures perched in the trees, activated by flashlights." Does Holnback know what the creatures are made of? "Not exactly," she says with a laugh.

Fred Bushroe, an "optics guy" who did the lens for famed environmental artist James Turrell's "Roden Crater" near Flagstaff, will illuminate the ranch's windmill.

Fox McGrew, who lives at the nearby Rancho Linda Vista art colony, will display ceramic heads, internally lit. Chrissy Goral, a Tucson artist whose glass and found-object works got the barn gallery show last year, this time around "hopes to finish her life-size ballerina," Holnback says.

Simon Donovan will arrive with an entourage of his students from ARTWORKS Academy, the Tucson Unified School District alternative art high school recently relocated to the Tucson Museum of Art.

"They described their piece as fabric and marble, illuminated from inside. It might hang from a tree."

Performance artist Colleena will reprise her "Living Statues." Last year, she was a woman in a cactus bikini, Holnback says. This time, she will transform herself into a "moon worshipper." Artist Alfred Quiroz promised Holnback he'd be "all lit up."

Beginning just after dark, the live performances will be divided between impromptu locations in the desert and a main stage. Friday night starts up with fire dancing by Tucson group Elemental Artistry. Singers-songwriters Tammy West and Namoli Brennet will play sets independently. Diamond Jim Hewitt of Oracle will do something "involving music and interactive lights." Flutist Barbara Else and drummer Todd Hammes "will play improvisational world music along the sculpture path."

From 10 p.m. to midnight, Kidd Squidd will fire up his moon CDs, and "we'll have a moonlight dance outside."

The Oracle Art Ensemble, consisting of Rancho Linda Vista's Imo Baird and Matthias Düwel, will put down their sculpting tools and paint brushes and pick up assorted musical instruments, including the xylophone. They'll entertain in the wash or on the sculpture walk both nights.

The Saturday night lineup includes opening act Snotwell Family Four, led by Hadji Banjovi, a banjoist who frequently spins old cartoons at downtown Tucson clubs. At 10 p.m., the Carnivaleros, headed by Gary Mackender, will offer up "Southwest gypsy music that's a little Zydeco and a little Tex-Mex."

"You can't see everything," Holnback cautions. "Everyone gets a different experience. There are things you may love, or not love. Things that are unexpected. But one thing's for sure: It's not dull."

And she has just a few pieces of advice: Bring a flashlight. Put on comfortable walking shoes. And wear clothes and jewels that shine.

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