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Inspirational Surroundings

The works of Kim Young

Summer hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday, Tuesday and Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday

On display through Friday, Sept. 25

University of Arizona Poetry Center

1508 E. Helen St.

626-3765;
poetrycenter.arizona.edu

For Kim Young, the University of Arizona Poetry Center is more than just a place to get lost in a book: It's an inspiration for her artwork as well.

Young, whose paintings are on exhibit at the Poetry Center, says that the seeds for her inspiration were planted long before she was asked to show in the space. Growing up in Phoenix—five hours away from the closest beach—libraries served as more than just places to check out a couple of books on the summer reading list; they were her own personal oasis during the hot summer months.

"Libraries in general have always been the one thing that you can enter into, and it just doesn't end," she says.

Young combined this lifelong love with the inspiration she drew from the new UA Poetry Center, which was relocated almost two years ago—and the result is 20 or so small and medium-sized pieces hanging around the space.

Some of the pieces feature punctuation marks, like commas, which she says call into question the personality behind written expressions—not only in our daily life, but also in the literature housed at the Poetry Center and libraries.

Young—one of the founders of Bicycle Inter-Community Action and Salvage, aka BICAS—says she got into painting and art by marketing BICAS when it was first getting started.

Young says she's excited by her show's location, because it gives people the opportunity to explore books as well as art.

"It's in a place that has a lot to offer. ... People who are going to go see the show can sit and relax, and explore all kinds of other artists," she says. —A.B.


New Deal, Good Deal!

Fireside Chats With FDR

7:30 p.m., Friday, July 3 (preview); 3 p.m., Saturday, July 4, and Sunday, July 5

Top Hat Theatre Club

3110 E. Fort Lowell Road

326-6800;
tophattheatreclub.com

Franklin D. Roosevelt is alive and well here in Tucson—or at least he is for the weekend.

In the spirit of Independence Day, the Top Hat Theatre Club will be re-creating some of the most important moments from FDR's Fireside Chats. James Gooden, who portrays FDR, put the show together three years ago based on the messages given to the nation. Since then, he says, the show has been evolving—including last year's addition of his wife, Elizabeth Gooden, as Eleanor Roosevelt.

This year, Gooden believes FDR's stirring messages are especially relevant. He says the Fireside Chats helped America move into the future, and that they are just as "important to hear in this day and age."

Gooden has appeared as FDR on several other similarly meaningful occasions, including the dedication of Arizona's first Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) statue at Colossal Cave last December. This event gave him the chance to meet actual members of the CCC who were inspired by FDR's original message and were given jobs thanks to his New Deal legislation. Gooden says there is always great interest when he shows up in character and describes the public's reaction to his portrayal as "a great outpouring of affection."

"I just really enjoy doing it," he explains. "It's very gratifying to see the way the piece is received by the public." But the bottom line, says Gooden: "It's a patriotic holiday; it's fun to do; and it's indoors!"

Regular admission is $16 (with a discount to $12 for the preview); admission for students, seniors and military is $15; and tickets for children 12 and younger are $8. If you go to the performance on July 4, there will be free hot dogs! —S.J.


The Surreal Life

The works of Neil Collins

6 a.m. to midnight, daily, through July

Epic Café

745 N. Fourth Ave.

624-6844;
studio23tucson.com

For Neil Collins, the words "art" and "life" can almost be used interchangeably.

"The line between my life and art has become so blurred over time that it is nearly impossible to separate the two," Collins says on his Web site.

The close parallel between art and life began early on, Collins explains.

"When I was about 6, my mother and I lived in a small studio apartment," Collins says on the Web site. "One rainy night, the roof began to leak, and water ran down the wall under the paint, creating a giant bubbly water stain. Instead of seeing the wall as ugly or destroyed, my mom handed me some old paints and a brush. She told me to paint what I saw in the pattern of the large water stain. I painted a big palm tree with green and brown, transforming the atmosphere of our poor, dark apartment into a tropical paradise."

Collins has been showing his art—often surreal oil paintings and metal sculptures—around Tucson for more than 10 years, at venues like Dinnerware and Solar Culture Gallery.

One example of his work is the oil-on-canvas painting "After Hours," which is front-and-center on his homepage. The work demonstrates Collins' surreal, dreamlike style, with a distorted Earth smoking on the bottom left side, and an alien-like being holding a martini near the center. The color palette for the piece is mostly turquoise, orange and maroon, with some black and gray mixed in.

Nearly five years after participating in a group show at Epic Café, Collins is now holding a solo show there, at which paintings like "After Hours" will be on display.

The exhibit is slated to be on display through July. Call 624-6844 for more information. —A.B.


Fresher Foods!

Eat Local America! Kickoff party

6 to 8 p.m., Friday, July 3

Food Conspiracy Co-op

412 N. Fourth Ave.

624-4821
foodconspiracy.org

The question of which came first—the chicken or the egg—doesn't matter much to those taking the Eat Local America! Challenge. What does matter is that the chicken and/or egg in question came from a local farm.

The challenge, which encourages participants to eat more locally grown foods, is something Tucsonans should participate in for several reasons, says Torey Ligon of the Food Conspiracy Co-op.

One of the most important reasons, she says, is that by eating locally grown foods, Tucsonans are helping keep money in Arizona by supporting farmers in the region.

"Southern Arizona is not an area that has an abundance of local agriculture, so it's particularly important here that we support the local farmers who are trying to make a living," Ligon says.

Another reason to participate in the challenge is that locally grown foods are generally fresher, Ligon says.

"When we get our deliveries from our local farms, (the items) were generally harvested that morning ... and then dropped off at the Co-op," Ligon says. "Even your best, freshest distributor produce is going to have to come in on a truck, from, at the very least, California, which may mean a day or two. A lot of conventional produce may have flown in from a whole other hemisphere, so you're talking possibly weeks of shipment."

Other reasons to get involved range from the desire to get in touch with Southern Arizona's harvesting season to the possibility that eating locally grown foods means leaving a lower carbon footprint, Ligon says.

Regardless of the reason that individuals choose to get involved, the Co-op is hosting a kickoff party with live music, specials and local foods to stock up on for the two-week challenge. For more information, call 624-4821. —A.B.

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