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Honoring Melo Dominguez

Pan Left's 4th Annual Just Art Brunch

10 a.m., Sunday, April 28

UA Student Union South Ballroom, 1330 E. University Blvd.

792-9171; panleft.org

Longtime Pan Left Productions volunteer and documentary filmmaker Jason Aragón admits it's been a difficult year for the social justice media collective, which is why the Sunday, April 28 fundraiser brunch is so important.

Last year, Pan Left lost its director Mary Charlotte Thurtle who died of cancer in late August. She was co-producer of Aragón's award-winning documentary Under Arpaio.

"To say it's been a difficult year is an understatement," Aragón says. "It was ironic. It was one of our most successful years keeping ourselves together as a group. Mary had built this foundation for us. But then she got cancer. We didn't know it was going to happen that soon. She was a rock, friend and sister and meant a lot to us."

Aragón says understandably last year's brunch didn't happen, while the organization worked to keep going, while also mourning the loss of its director. This year, the brunch is back and the collective recently announced it has a new director, Michael Fenlason, who works as a grants manager for the Tucson Museum of Art and artistic director of the Beowulf Alley Theatre.

"He's a playwright, too, so he's familiar with arts and those circles. ... This is a great organization to be working for and he has plans to move us forward and make us grow and thrive, which is where we want to be."

At past brunches, Pan Left has recognized its own filmmakers, and at the most recent one painter and muralist David Tineo was recognized for his work in social justice and art. This year, Pan Left will honor artist Melo Dominguez.

"This year we decided to continue that tradition ..." Aragón says.

"Melo's name came up automatically. This is a perfect fit for what she does. David is a legend, but Melo represents the next generation."

—M.H.


Speak Your Mind

Access Tucson's 2nd Annual Celebrating Free Speech Benefit

5:30 to 8:30 p.m., Wednesday, May 1

Café A La C'Art at the Tucson Museum of Art, 150 N. Main Ave.

624-9833; accesstucson.org

Access Tucson may be known for its open discourse on the airwaves, but for the second year the organization is encouraging Tucsonans to speak their minds beyond the confines of media at its Celebrating Free Speech event.

Defenders, dissenters and the generally outspoken can join emcee Jim Nintzel, senior writer at the Tucson Weekly and host of Political Roundtable on KUAT Channel 6. Last year's event was well attended and Access Tucson board president Bob Kovitz expects a similar showing this year.

"There are a lot of people in Tucson that are pleased to honor the notion of free speech, and they wanted to join in celebration with us," Kovitz said. "We want to build on that success."

The overlap between humor and free speech will act as inspiration for debate, bringing together Comedy Central's Eddie Pence and local comedians Gary Hood, Henry Barajas, Amy Blackwell and Josiah Osego to discuss issues confronting the public today.

"One of the great virtues of the American people is that we can stop and laugh at ourselves, at the situations that we find ourselves in or even the government puts us in," Kovitz said. "That's what makes us unique."

Encouraging an uncensored dialogue is a vital part of the event, Kovitz said. Attendees can enjoy food and drink along with entertainment from local band the Introverts before the free speech festivities begin. Tickets are $30 per person and $50 per couple and are available on the Access Tucson website.

—K.N.


Queer-Friendly Wedding Businesses

The Ultimate Queer Wedding Expo

Noon to 5 p.m., Sunday, April 28

Riverpark Inn, 350 S. Freeway

786-493-4516; http://fluxxproductionsstudioandgallery.tumblr.com

A wedding is an emotional moment that couples usually choose to share with loved ones. Engaged couples expect those present to be fully supportive of the commitment being made.

For queer couples, finding businesses that support the LGBTQ community can be difficult, but finding them can also make all the difference in the success of a wedding. The Ultimate Queer Wedding Expo, hosted by Fluxx Productions Studio and Gallery, is the first event of its kind in Arizona and will bring together about 20 vendors who actively support queer couples.

From florists to photographers, the businesses attending or contributing to the expo are all from Southern Arizona and are queer-friendly.

"It's important for these businesses to be supportive of the queer community in a bigger way," said Em Bowen, public relations director for Fluxx. "I think any of us would rather have someone participating in a special event if someone actually cared rather than someone who's doing it for money."

Attendees can sample wine and enter a drawing to win honeymoon gift baskets. A fashion show will feature local queer people who will model throughout the event.

Bowen thought there would be demand for a queer wedding expo after hearing about friends having trouble finding businesses willing to work with them on their wedding.

The expo came about "because we have these friends and these people that we love who want these resources," Bowen said.

The event is free and open to the public.

—S.C.


Supporting a Community Fixture

Loft Aid: An Evening to Benefit the Loft Cinema

5 p.m., Tuesday, April 30

La Cocina, 201 N. Court Ave.

loftcinema.org/bftf

For more than a decade the Loft Cinema has been capturing Tucson's attention through film, but the upcoming Loft Aid event is meant to support a goal that is ambitiously three-dimensional.

As part of La Cocina restaurant's weekly Tuesdays for Tucson fundraiser, the Loft Cinema will receive 10 percent of the night's dining proceeds and will be requesting donations for its Building for the Future Campaign. Since the start of the campaign last year, the Loft has raised more than $1.3 million in pledges and gifts.

Engaging the community with events like Loft Aid draws the theater closer to its objectives: to install digital technology on the one remaining screen without it, to increase the range of programming and to expand the theater itself.

"Anything that enhances our physical property by default enhances our programming, and vice versa," said Debi Chess Mabie, director of development at the Loft.

With the help of the fundraising website Indiegogo, patrons at La Cocina will have an easy way to contribute to the campaign, and any level of donation is appreciated, Mabie said.

Maintaining the evening's "party atmosphere" well into the night is another goal of the event, according to Steven Soloway, the Loft's deputy marketing director. Soloway has booked 12 bands for the evening, including Tucson fixtures Howe Gelb and Al Perry. The musicians are donating their time at the benefit.

Raffle drawings and information about Building for the Future will follow each band's set. Loft programming director Jeff Yanc will serve as an emcee, along with comedian and movie reviewer Mike Sterner and cartoonist Max Cannon. Admission is free.—K.N.

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