BUD AND VINE. Drink in cool nightfall with an Enchanted Summer Evening of Wine Tasting at Tucson Botanical Gardens.
The public is invited to this varietal soirée, with nature's nectar poured by Kent Callaghan, owner of Callaghan Vineyards. Jon Rogers, author of Wines Without The Mystery, will also be on hand to discuss various vintages. All this gustatory action happens against a backdrop of music and lush flora in the charming midtown oasis.
Enchanted Summer Evening of Wine Tasting runs from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the gardens, 2150 N. Alvernon Way. Admission is $10, $7 for TBG members. For information, call 326-9686.
TIMELESS TAGGERS. Take a colorful look back when Cinema La Placita screens American Grafitti.
A joyous slice of '50s Americana--complete with ducktails, hot-rod Chevys and poodle sweaters--this George Lucas classic stars Ron Howard, Richard Dreyfuss, Harrison Ford and Suzanne Somers, just for starters.
The free showing is part of a Thursday evening series aimed at restoring downtown's lovely old Fox Theatre. These screenings happen on a huge outdoor screen in La Placita's plaza.
Showtime is 7:30 p.m. in La Placita Village, 110 S. Church St. at Broadway. Call 623-2748 for information.
TOUGH CALL. One woman is understandably torn between her love for a man and her hankering for chocolate in A Larger Place by local playwright Mark Hope.
Tucson performer Kind Essence stars in this one-person play, portraying a character who tackles her "confrontation with love, relationships, abuse, personal identity and autonomy." Directed by Jan Aalberts, the play is presented dinner-theater style, with both chicken and vegetarian menus available.
Dinner is served at 6:30 p.m., with showtime at 7:30 tonight and Friday, July 14 in the Sundanse Bakery, Café and Juice Bar, 614 N. Fourth Ave. Tickets are $20, and available at Antigone Books and the Sundanse Cafe. Call 623-2436 for details.
RUDANS ON THE BLOCK. In June 1950, Latvian refugee Eriks Rudans landed in New York. Over the next 50 years, he served in Uncle Sam's army, earned a graduate degree from the University of Wisconsin, taught in several more universities, worked with a slew of famous artists, and eventually moved to Tucson.
For the past 15 years Rudans has been a proud Old Pueblan, and these arid hills have inspired him to create an astonishing body of work. Now Etherton Gallery offers the fruits of those labors for sale with Eriks Rudans: Celebration Exhibition.
The event runs from noon to 5 p.m. through Saturday in the Etherton Gallery, 135 S. Sixth Ave. For information, call 624-7370.
REBOUND AND RECUPERATION. Well on the way to mending from an organ transplant, former Wildcat, current NBA player and all around classy guy Sean Elliot returns to host his annual Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson Steak and Burger Dinner.
Eight outstanding kids will be honored and receive scholarships to Pima Community College. Like Elliot, these rising stars got their boost from the Boys and Girls Clubs. One of them is 16-year-old Ramon Ahumada. "My plans for the future include attending the University of Arizona," he says, "and marching in the band. I plan to study criminal law and become a lawyer."
Another is Nicole Juvera, who plays sports and has held several leadership positions at Sunnyside High School. She also has her eyes on attending the UA, "and studying either political science, health care or management systems."
This chow-down for success is open to the public, with burgers for the teens and steaks for grown-ups.
The Sean Elliot Steak and Burger Dinner is at 5 p.m. in the Marriott University Park, 880 E. Second St. Tickets are $45, and are available by calling 573-3533.
WINNING PICKERS. Guitar master Peter McLaughlin and his Frog Mountain band join Tucson's own Titan Valley Warheads for a night of hot bluegrass action.
A veteran of the Warheads, McClaughlin twice won the coveted Telluride Guitar Contest, and took first place at the National Guitar Flat-Picking Championship. He's also toured with Laurie Lewis and her Grant Street band. Rounding out Frog Mountain are fiddle master Chris Brashear and bassist Evan Dain.
As for the Warheads, the longtime local favorite includes Gary Kuitert on mandolin, Ed Davenport on bass and Earl Edmonson on guitar and harmonica. No slackers themselves, their band's great harmonies, rollicking bluegrass and classic western tunes have garnered them a slew of awards, including Best Bluegrass Band at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
Showtime is 8 p.m. in the Plaza Palomino, on the southeast corner of Fort Lowell and Swan roads. Advance tickets for the all-weather outdoors concert are $14, and are available at Hear's Music, The Folk Shop, Antigone Books, Brew and Vine, and Enchanted Earthworks. Tickets are $16 at the door. Call 297-9133 for details.
CRUCIAL CONSERVATION. Stunning Ramsey Canyon near Sierra Vista just got even better, with expanded facilities for visitors.
The world-renowned preserve is about 90 miles southeast of Tucson, along a tributary of the San Pedro River. It's home to one the largest arrays of plant and animal species anywhere in the United States, with 210 species of birds (including 14 types of hummingbirds), 420 plants, 45 mammals, and 20 reptiles and amphibians found in the canyon.
Some, like the Ramsey Canyon leopard frog and the lemon lily, are found few other places on Earth. The preserve reopened to the public in January with several improvements, such as more parking, a renovated visitors center, new interpretive exhibits and free summer programs for families. These include Kid's Camp week-long programs in environmental education, and a series of three evening programs called Monsoon Madness.
For its part, The Nature Conservancy is a private, non-profit conservation organization with gleaming new headquarters on Fort Lowell Road. The group is dedicated to preserving plants, animals and ecosystems that represent this planet's diversity of wildlife by protecting the land they need to survive.
Ramsey Canyon is located southeast of Sierra Vista on Highway 90. Take I-10 east to the Sierra Vista exit. Drive time is approximately two hours. For directions and other information, call The Nature Conservancy at 622-3861.
PAST PICTURES. Like many other cultural remnants, the wonderful and scarce petroglyphs of the Jornada Mogollon prehistoric settlement are rapidly disappearing--along with the priceless portrait they paint of early man.
Luckily, artist and photographer Anthony Howell has devoted himself to documenting the Indian village site near Deming, N.M. Today, he'll discuss his work in a lecture hosted by the Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society.
The free talk is at 7:30 p.m. in the University Medical Center's Du Val Auditorium, 1501 N. Campbell Ave. Call 621-6281 for details.
DISAPPEARING ACTS. Reality takes an ethereal twist when It's Magic presents The Laramores of Los Angeles.
On their current tour, Gary and Renee Laramore have entertained folks from Houston and New York to Japan. Now they bring their unique blend of comedy and magic to Tucson. While Renee has roots in theater and television--she's appeared on Chicago Hope, Mad TV and Ellen--she's refined her sleight-of-hand talents to match those of Gary.
For his part, Gary Laramore is a top-ranked magician with a background in acting and stunt work, and even boasts a black belt in karate. Like Renee, he's done his share of small-screen work on such shows as E.R., L.A. Heat, Babylon 5 and Dark Skies. But magic remains his true calling. "And I love being on tour," he says, "traveling the world and getting paid to do what I love."
Also appearing with the Laramores is Ice McDonald and his magical entourage. McDonald is known for dazzling stage shows that have brightly colored scarves bursting into beautiful doves, or a blue and gold silk scarf transforming into a splendid blue and gold macaw.
Catch the magic at 7 p.m. in The Gaslight Theatre, 7010 E. Broadway. Tickets are $10, and are available at Williams Magic and Novelties. Call 790-4060 for details.
FRENCH KISS. First it was steaming Cajun chow at Nonie Restaurant. Now Grant Road gets even more bayou flavor with the French Quarter and its house band, Voodoo Square.
Featuring members of the Kings of Pleasure and Jupiter Dave, Voodoo Square brings a contemporary approach to the New Orleans sound. The boys throw everything into the gumbo pot, "from the sexy pulses of creole zydeco to the street-smart sounds of a New Orleans brass band." The result is "a fresh sound that is turning heads and moving feet."
Voodoo Square plays at 9:30 p.m. in the French Quarter, 3146 E. Grant Road. Admission is free. For information, call 318-4767.
DOG DAYS. Four frisky pups popped out of their burrows at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum one recent morning. This was their first showing, and a good sign that four-month-olds are fitting right in with the museum's thriving colony--and providing a great excuse to visit the world-class Tucson enclave.
As for the pups: So far, so good, says Peter Siminski, the museum's director of living collections. "They're very lively, and are all over exploring the burrows. And like all youngsters, the pups can do all sorts of things, such as biting the adults and eating their food. The adults just take it in stride."
The youngsters are black-tailed prairie dogs transplanted from a Texas facility. Measuring about five inches tall, they weigh only about a quarter-pound, compared to the two-pound adults. Once found in great numbers throughout southeastern Arizona, the black-tailed prairie dog has been gone from the state since the early 1930s, the result of grassland declines caused by cattle grazing, and eradication by ranchers and government agents.
Now they've returned--if in a small way--at the museum. The best time to catch the pups' antics is mid-morning and late afternoon.
The desert museum is at 2021 E. Kinney Road. Hours are 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through September. Admission is $8.95, and $1.75 for children ages 6 to 12. Call 883-2702 for information.
SENSORY OVERLOAD. From speech to touch, humans have countless ways to get their point across. And that is the point of Textual Visions, an intriguing new exhibit in the Tucson/Pima Arts Council Community Gallery.
Created by a group of women under the same name, Textual Visions combines different modes of communication to infuse their work with more complex and layered meanings. At the same time, the artists aim to raise issues about how these messages are processed and interpreted differently. The body of work includes mixed media, digital paintings and installations.
Contributing artists include Sofia Herrera, Polly Johnson, Ellen McMahon, Karen Piovaty, Katie Salen, Kerry Stratford and Karen White.
Textual Visions runs through August 16, with a special artists' reception from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, August 11, in the TPAC Community Gallery, 240 N. Stone Ave. Regular gallery hours are 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. For information, call 624-0595.