Thank goodness for Etherton Gallery.
This summer, as the Center for Creative Photography goes dark for three long months, Etherton is taking up the photographic slack with Masters of American Photography.
"It's great stuff nobody's really seen," says gallery owner Terry Etherton, all of it from the gallery's own holdings.
A highlight is Richard Misrach's career-making Night Desert photos from the mid-1970s. Misrach was an unknown 20-something then, rooting around the Sonoran Desert by night, making selenium-toned prints of cacti and mountains and moons.
The photos technically are black and white, but the split-toned process turned some shadows nearly purple, and others almost blue.
"These are ultra-rare," Etherton says. The manufacturer stopped making the specialized paper required for the process not long after Misrach recorded our desert. Once the paper went out of production, the acclaimed Misrach turned to regular color photography.
The exhibition, opening with a reception from 7 to 10 p.m., Saturday, June 11, also includes "In the Box, Horizontal," a gorgeous Ruth Bernhard nude from 1962; a classic 1968 Ansel Adams, "El Capitán, Sunrise, Winter, Yosemite National Park, California"; and Joel-Peter Witkin's 2007 "La Giovanissima." Demonstrating Etherton's historic reach are such 19th-century works as Timothy O'Sullivan's pivotal Arizona photo, "Black Cañon, Colorado River From Camp 8, Looking Above."
The Center for Creative Photography, regrettably, is spending the summer dismantling its renowned library, though not, thank goodness, its archives. Many of the library materials will be shipped over to the UA Science-Engineering Library; the rarest holdings, which don't circulate, will be moved upstairs to a study room at the center.
Time was that nearly all of the arts slowed down during Tucson's hot months. No more. Dance is still mighty scarce, and so is classical music, but the visual arts, theater and the alternative-movie scene are hopping all summer.
Here's a quick look at some highlights.
A new gallery, Gallery Muñeca at Desert Dolls Photography, kicks off over and over, a solo show by Rae Strozzo, this Saturday night, May 28. The transgendered artist gives a talk about his paintings and drawings, in which he uses bridges as potent symbols. Talk at 6 p.m.; reception from 6:30 to 9 p.m.; 657 W. St. Mary's Road; 241-6989.
On Saturday, June 4, the galleries around Sixth Street and Sixth Avenue set sail on their annual Summer Art Cruise. A dozen or so receptions overlap; most start at 6 p.m. Noted local painter David Tineo opens at Contreras Gallery, 110 E. Sixth St., 398-6557; retired UA painting prof Barbara Rogers debuts In Bloom at Conrad Wilde Gallery, 439 N. Sixth Ave., No 171, 622-8997. (She gives a gallery talk at 6 p.m., Saturday, June 11.) Davis Dominguez, 154 E. Sixth St., 629-9759, jump-starts its Small Things Considered, the invitational that's always an entertaining exercise in artists downsizing their art. Raices Taller 222, 218 E. Sixth St., 881-5335, cracks open ¡Chubasco!, a group show dedicated to Tucson's heavenly monsoons.
Arizona Biennial '11 makes its public debut on June 25 at the Tucson Museum of Art, 140 N. Main Ave.; 624-2333. Curated this time by Anne Ellegood of UCLA's Hammer Museum, the every-other-year show charts the state of the state's avant-garde. It will be up all summer, through Oct. 2.
St. Philip's Plaza, at River Road and Campbell Avenue, is trying the free art-walk concept on for size. Friday Night Live started up in May, and will repeat from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. on June 3, July 1, Aug. 5 and Sept. 2. Organizers promise gallery openings, music, wine and hors d'oeuvres.
And don't forget Second Saturdays Downtown, open-air evenings once a month with outdoor performances and plenty of pedestrians. The next one is June 11.
Nathan Christensen has stepped down from his two-year stint as a Tucson Weekly theater critic to go into the theater biz himself. His Seven Lively Arts is staging a variety show every Thursday at 2 p.m. through July, at Comedy Playhouse, 3620 N. First Ave. Inspired by "those wonderfully cheesy, TV variety shows of yesteryear," The Matinee Show combines comedy sketches written by Christensen with live music, door prizes and a special guest each week. James Reel, the Weekly's ex-ex theater critic, is the guest on June 23. How's that for meta? 884-2135.
In other new-theater news, Arid Rose Theater has found a new space, at 127 S. Fourth Ave., and hopes to mount A Midsummer Night's Dream in late July or early August.
Continuing in the light summer vein, loveable Gaslight Theatre opens Gnatman on June 16; 886-9428.
Arizona Rose Theatre comes back for a second Summer in the Park in Marana with a lineup of musicals, Broadway Cinema on June 25, Top 40! on July 23, and Summertime Radio Theatre on Aug. 20. The free outdoor performances are at Crossroads at Silverbell Park, 7548 N. Silverbell Road, Marana; 888-0509.
The Rogue Theatre jumps into comedy in a big way with The Real Inspector Hound, a hilarious Tom Stoppard play that inserts theater critics into a whodunit (talk about meta), as well as Stoppard's New Found Land. Opens June 17; 551-2053.
Studio Connections has fun, too, staging a female version of The Odd Couple, with Florence and Olive replacing Felix and Oscar. Opens June 3; 329-3707.
Live Theatre Workshop presents Paula Vogel's How I Learned to Drive starting June 18. Etcetera, the wild late-night division of LTW, presents The Book of Liz, an Amy and David Sedaris collaboration, starting June 30. Etcetera also flirts with Jailbait, opening Aug. 4; 327-4242.
Beowulf Alley Late Night tries out The Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged), opening Friday, June 17. The mainstage company has put together Page on the Stage, an ambitious new-play festival, introducing works by Devin Gorman, Jonathan Northover and Gavin Kayner. The plays are staged in workshop productions starting Thursday, July 7; 882-0555.
Comedy Playhouse has the longest summer season. Candida runs June 10 to July 10, making way for the Fourth of July offering, The Fireside Chats With FDR, from July 1 to July 4. The Comedy Genius of Robert Benchley follows from July 15 to July 23, and An Evening of A.A. Milne closes out the summer, July 29 to Aug. 28; 260-6442.
Also in August, Arizona Onstage Productions takes on the musical black comedy Sweeney Todd, Aug. 6 to 14; 270-3332 or 882-6574.
Tucson's dancers may be resting their bodies this summer—or teaching kids' workshops—but the folks at ZUZI! Dance Company are still going. They're inviting the public to dance with them this Saturday night, May 28, at 7:30 p.m. The ZUZI Aerial Trapeze Dance Jam Fundraiser offers ticket-holders a dance party, concert, family fun and the chance, maybe, to try your luck on the trapeze. $10. ZUZI! Theater, 738 N. Fifth Ave.; 629-0237.
The St. Andrew's Bach Society doesn't believe in taking a vacation from classical music. The society has organized a five-gig concert series at Grace St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 2331 E. Adams St. Tickets are cheap: $10 adults; $5 students. 808-2122.
At 3 p.m., Sunday, June 5, pianist and UA prof John Milbauer gives a solo recital of works by Poulenc, Mozart, Chopin, Ponce, Cage and Ravel. At the second concert, at 3 p.m., Sunday, July 24, Paula Fan, also a pianist and a UA prof, joins the woodwind quintet Paloma Winds for a little Mozart and Ludwig Thuille.
The annual Bach Lives! celebration features all six of J.S. Bach's solo sonatas and partitas for violin, performed over two concerts by violinist Steven Moeckel, concertmaster of the Phoenix Symphony. To hear the whole suite, music-lovers must attend both performances, at 7 p.m., Friday, Aug. 12, and at 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 14.
The last concert, at 3 p.m., Sunday, Aug. 28, offers up music of the Baroque as well as a Mendelssohn piano trio. Mark Votapek will be on cello, with Emma Noël Votapek on violin and Tannis Gibson on piano. Mark Votapek and Gibson both teach at the UA; Emma Noël Votapek is with the Tucson Symphony Orchestra.
Cinema La Placita continues its outdoor screenings of movie classics every Thursday through October at 7:30 p.m., at 110 S. Church Ave. For $3, you get popcorn, an optional chair and the magic of an old movie projected on a wall under the stars. The Bad News Bears from 1976, starring Walter Matthau and Tatum O'Neal, plays this Thursday, May 26.
Plush, the club at 340 E. Sixth St., gets into the movie business with its free Summer Pfilm series. First up, at 9:30 p.m., Wednesday, June 8, is the 1936 cult classic Reefer Madness. Doors open at 9 p.m.; 798-1298.
Finally, the Loft Cinema, 3233 E. Speedway Blvd., screens back-to-back movies graced with Calexico musical soundtracks. Circo is at 7 p.m., Friday, May 27, and Flor de Muertos has its premiere at 7 p.m., Saturday, May 28. Calexico's Joey Burns and John Convertino perform live after Circo, a documentary about a Mexican circus. The band's members will be back Saturday to introduce Flor, but they won't play live.
Directed by Danny Vinik, the Tucson-made Flor de Muertos explores the cultural collisions of the borderlands, splicing footage of Día de los Muertos in Nogales, Sonora, with Calexico in concert at the Rialto Theatre in skeleton costumes, as well as scenes from Tucson's All Souls Procession. Various talking heads, including author Charles Bowden and yours truly, puzzle over the catastrophe of deaths along the border.
A double-feature ticket for both movies is $20 general, or $16 for Loft members. Single tickets are $12 general, or $10 for members; 322-5638.