Arizona

100 Years – 100 Reasons to Visit

Arizona celebrates 100 years of statehood in 2012. From the Grand Canyon to the Sonoran Desert, metropolitan Phoenix to the ghost  town of  Fairbanks the variety of scenery, activities and cultures offers hundreds of reasons to visit for everyone from extreme athlete to retirees.

 

 

Known as the Grand Canyon State, is there any better place to begin a tour of Arizona than Grand Canyon National Park? Whether you raft down the Colorado River, hike the South Kaibab Trail, peak over the rim at Grand Canyon Village or fly above it all with Grand Canyon Airlines the awe factor impresses.

 

In the days and weeks to come look for more reasons to visit Arizona during their centennial year.

    52nd Indian Fair & Market
    Heard Museum – Phoenix
             March 6 & 7, 2010

One of the country’s premier Indian fairs and markets attracts collectors to the Heard Museum grounds in downtown Phoenix the first weekend of March.

More than 700 Native American artists display a vast array of original arts and crafts.

Umbrella for Shade

 

* Beadwork

* Carvings

* Jewelry

* Paintings

* Pottery

* Rugs

* Sculpture

* Textiles

 

Basket Hat Lady

 The artisans come from all over America, not just Arizona. To participate each artist must be jurored into the show, a prestigious acknowledgement of the quality of their work.

A basket weaver from the Pacific Northwest Coast creations represent traditional woven items of the region.

While Southwest Indian art is well represented. Tribal members from around the country exhibit contemporary and traditional art forms.

 

Booths Rows and rows of booths and large exhibit tents gives each artist individual space to display their work. Whether one is a serious collector or just looking for an inexpensive keepsake shoppers get to met the person who created their chosen purchase.

 

Hopi Baskets

The green yucca plant is an important material for Hopi basket makers. This Hopi artist was happy to explain the process from gathering the natural materials to finished product.

The more we learn the more we appreciate the time, talent and skill involved in creating each piece. Many of the traditional designs have been passed down through several generations. Artists often say they first learned from their grandmothers.

 

 

Silversmith Throughout the weekend artist demonstrations let us view the creative process. Whether it’s working a flat piece of silver into a lovely necklace or transforming a lump of clay into a pottery figurine shoppers enjoy watching the artists at Pot Polisherwork.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sash Weaver Questions are willingly answered. As we talk with the artists we witness an unique balance of modesty and pride in their art form.

Music, including R. Carlos Nakai, and dance performances give attendees a  break from shopping. There is so much to take in we find it helpful to switch focus from time to time.

Each year a different tribal group is featured, the Hopi in 2009 and bands of the Apache people in 2010. “Apache Peoples and Arts” will highlight elder artists, food, a wikieup (traditional Apache lodging), and storytelling by Apache entertainer Ken Duncan.

 

Hope Piki

What would an event be without food? Not to worry, there are plenty of opportunities to nosh our way through the day. Of course, there is traditional Indian fry bread. We fascinated to watch the Hopi piki maker. Piki is a thin rolled bread made with fine blue corn flour and culinary ash. The maker spreads a thin layer of the batter on a hot griddle with her hand. Almost immediately the practically transparent layer of piki is ready to be rolled. Watching the labor intensive steps we understand why this is a rare treat.

 

Stirring the Pot

Apache acorn soup will be available in 2010 as well as selections ranging from Cajun and Mexican specialties to gelato. Tables in the tree shaded courtyard are the perfect place for people watching as we have lunch.

Lunch Break

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indian Fair tickets include admission to the ten galleries of the Heard Museum. However, we found so much to do and see at the Fair & Market that the museum had to wait for another day.

Gates swing open for general admission both Saturday and Sunday from 9:30am – 5pm.

 

Museum Entrance

 

Sculpture

Sandhills at Sundown

Whitewater Draw  - Viewing Deck

Arizona attracts a multitude of bird watchers – novices to fanatics. Cochise County in the southeast corner of the state is especially rich in avian habitat: riparian zones, sky islands, canyons and playas.

Some years ago we stopped into the visitor center in Willcox, AZ during a February trip. I overheard a staff member describing the Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area near McNeal. “Last week when they did a count there were over 11,000 Sandhill Cranes and 2,000 Snow Geese. The hour before sunset is a great time to see them fly in after a day of field feeding.” We added Whitewater Draw to our afternoon agenda – and have returned every year we’re in the area.

Sandhills on the Wing

Standing Sandhills 2

When we arrive at Whitewater draw we spot only a few cranes pecking around corn stubble in a nearby field or standing one-legged in shallow water. Armed with binoculars and cameras we follow the trail around Cattail Pond to one of the viewing platforms. We hear rumbling “swish, swish, swish” several seconds before spotting a dark, airborne wave approaching from the north.

Sandhills and Water

Soon we can distinguish literally hundreds of wings seeming to flap in unison. With wingspans in excess of six-feet a lot of air is displaced with each downbeat. After a couple of slow circles the Sandhill Cranes glide in for a landing, line after line resembling a well choreographed dance. The water seems to fill as the next wave circles. Sandhills stand more than three feet tall, their gray plumage tinged with shades of russet. We admire the long graceful necks and distinctive red forehead patch.

Honking announces a V-formation of Snow Geese high overhead. On land or water they appear all white but their black tipped wings are evident in flight. The geese settle in among the cranes, neither perplexed by the other.

Sandhills and Canada Geese

Last Stragglers As the last stragglers arrive we watch cranes and geese settle in for the night.  Some flit from group to group – must we the teens – while most fold one leg up into their breast feathers and “crane”  necks 180-degrees to bury heads into thick back plumage.

Arizona Sunset It’s time we leave our amazing nature experience. As we drive the rural roads headed to Benson for food and lodging we bask in one more phenomenon – an Arizona sunset.

 

 

Whitewater Draw Wildlife Area, Cochise County, Arizona

Whitewater Draw, Cochise County, Arizona

Free Garden Visit

Cactus Fan Residents and visitors in the Phoenix/Scottsdale region can enjoy a FREE visit to the Desert Botanical Garden tomorrow, February 9, 2010, from 1-8pm. The garden occupies 50 acres of Papago Park, and is home to a broad collection of desert plants and foliage. Join a free docent tour to learn secrets and myths of common and rare species.

Themed trails through the acres include the Desert Discovery Loop, Desert Wildflower Loop, Herb Garden, Sonoran Desert Nature Loop and

Plants & People of the Sonoran Desert Loop Trail. Take a leisurely break at the Patio Cafe for lunch or afternoon Three Red Spikesrefreshment. 

In cooperation with the Heard Museum an exhibit of Allan Houser’s bronze sculptures currently enriches the garden experience. A renowned Native American artist, Houser gained world-wide recognition for his modernistic works before his death in 1994.

Houser Sculpture

Whether you can take advantage of the February 9, 2010 FREE day or not put the Desert Botanical Garden on your “To Do” list while in Phoenix.

Click to see a slide show of Desert Botanical Gardens images.

Previous Desert Botanical Garden Posts

Chihuly: The Nature of Glass by Night

Dale Chihuly Nature of Glass Exhibit

cochiseSue Harris
Southern Arizona celebrates Western heritage and music plus a hearty dose of humor in Sierra Vista February 12-14, 2010. This is the 18th year for the Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering - one of the best in the West. Saturday’s daytime sessions, 10am-5pm, are free with 50-plus talented musicians, poets and storytellers from all  over the US and Canada.  Eight, 50-minute, themed sessions run concurrently throughout the day. The artists appear in round robin sessions with themes ranging from “Saddle Songs” and “Laugh A Lot” to  “Cowboys and Sweethearts” – the theme for this year’s gathering. Appropriate for the Valentine weekend, don’t you think? Hours of engaging entertainment aJoni Harmst no charge.

Tickets for headliner performances Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoon cost less than $20 – a great entertainment value.  Some of this year’s headline performers include Bill Barwick  – the Western Music Association 2009 Male Performer of the Year, Joni Harms (right) who has appeared from Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry to New York City’s Carnegie Hall, and Bob’s favorite Arizona songstress Sue Harris (above). All gathering events are held at the Buena Performing Arts Center except late evening jam sessions at the Windemere Hotel. Everyone’s welcome to sit back and listen as the performers play into the wee hours of the mornCochise Jam Sessioning.

The Cochise Gathering organizers and performers introduce Western Heritage and cowboy poetry writing to students in Cochise County Schools each year. Thousands of children from third grade through  high school have submitted their poems to the yearly contest. Winners recite their original creations during the evening and Sunday matinee Headliner Stage Performances. Every year I’m inspired by the results of this program and the perception and talenCochise Kid Poetst of the students.

Round ‘em up and head ‘em out to Sierra Vista at any time of year but especially for the Cochise Cowboy Poetry & Music Gathering .

Map picture

 

Visit Cochise County

Sierra Vista is approximately 75 miles southeast of Tucson at the foot of the Huachuca Mountains. Legendary Tombstone is 16 miles to the east. The eco-crossroad of mountains and deserts supports an abundant variety of wildlife and hundreds of bird species. While in the area check out the Nature Conservancy’s Ramsey Canyon Preserve and the San Pedro Riparian National Conservation Area. Arizona’s outstanding Kartchner Caverns State Park, 19 miles north of Sierra Vista, should also go on one’s itinerary. Cochise County fills the southeast corner of Arizona with an amazing array of history, nature and recreation – we find something new with every visit. View the slide show for a sampling of what awaits in Cochise County.

Dale Chihuly Nature of Glass Exhibit

Final Days

Dale Chihuly’s phenomenally successful Nature of Glass exhibit at Phoenix’s Desert Botanical Garden closes May 31, 2009. For six months visitors have oohed and aahed over the colorful glass creations in the desert garden setting. Cameras have captured millions of memorable images, overviews to close-ups. I’ve arranged some of our favorites into four slide shows. I hope you have time to sit back and view the Nature of Glass.

Click “View Full Album,” on the following page click “Slide Show.” At the end of each slide show double click the back arrow to return to the blog post.

The Sun - N - Front Page

The first album begins with Desert Towers outside the garden entrance which mirrors the region’s yuccas and agave. The exhibit’s centerpiece – The Sun - brings more than 1,000 separate pieces of glass together into a 14-foot-tall explosion of color and form. Note how flower and cactus plantings compliment Scorpion Tails and Bamboo. Bet you can identify which of the  installations is named Mexican Hat and Horn Tower and The Moon.

 

 

Red Stems in Courtyard - Front Page

Reeds, tiger lilies, heron and horns, fiddleheads, ferns and fiori (Italian for flowers) appear in a multitude of rich colors. I find it fascinating how the glass integrates into the gardens.

 

 

Chiostro di Sant'Apollonia Chandelier - Front Page

The term chandelier takes on new meaning after you’ve viewed Chihuly’s creations. Hundreds, even thousands in some cases, of individual pieces attached to a frame almost defy description. We’ve seen numbers of Chihuly chandeliers in public buildings and previous exhibitions but there was something about seeing them in the outdoor setting that took our appreciation to a higher level. My favorite was the blue Chiostro di Sant’ Apollonia Chandelier pictured above.

 

 

Blue and Purple Boat - Front Page

Boats and floats in the desert? The juxtaposition may break the norm but three installations were special crowd pleasers. It’s nearly impossible to pick a favorite between Blue and Purple Boat and Boat and Floats.

We made two visits to Chihuly’s Nature of Glass at Desert Botanical Gardens during our Arizona trip. If we lived closer I’d be there this weekend for final oohs and aahs.

 

By night the glass and gardens offered totally different visuals. To see additional night photos check out my earlier blog, Nature of Glass by Night.

The Sun -  Night2

White Dove of the Desert

san-xavier-del-bac-front-with-cactus

Renovated and unveiled San Xavier del Bac Mission glistens in the Sonora Desert, south of Tucson. For the first time in years no scaffolding obscured the front or west tower of the famed, "White Dove of the Desert."

On our previous visits the mission was undergoing major work to preserve the historic gem. I got very excited when I learned that a portion of the work was complete and the scaffolding removed. Plans were for work on the east tower to start in mid-March, restoration projected to take three years. We would have a chance to see the entire front facade unblemished by construction.

A nearly cloudless sky was all the enticement we needed to head to the mission in the late afternoon. Activity around the popular destination was winding up for the day. No buses waiting for camera-toting passengers idled in the parking lot. Only a couple of Tohono O’odham families were still packing up from their food booths. There would be no fry bread or Indian tacos for us this visit.

san-xavier-del-bac-doors-nBuilt from 1783 – 1797, the church frequently is proclaimed to be the finest example of mission architecture in the United States. Records reveal little about the architect and artisans responsible for the original construction. Influences of Moorish, Byzantine and Late Mexican Renaissance architecture blend to create the strikingly unique edifice. We can only surmise why the east tower was never completed.

The Tohono O’odham people lived in the settlement of Bac ("place were the water appears") long before Father Kino, the Jesuit missionary and explorer, arrived in 1692. By the time the present church was built the Franciscans were in charge of the mission. Still today San Xavier del Bac serves the Tohono O’odham as a parish church within the Diocese of Tucson. Services are open to all and the church is open every day of the year.

san-xavier-del-bac-west-tower1The building has a long history of respectful care followed by neglect and restoration. For three decades in the 1800s priests were sent home to Spain. Parishioners safeguarded church furnishings in their homes but the building fell into disuse.

The latest restoration began with the interior in 1992, a six-year project. Once the elaborate detail of the ornate interior was completed work begun on the exterior to stabilize the walls and domes. Viewing the newly completed west tower we see the successful use of a mud plaster "recipe" used by the Tohono O’odham peoples. When baked in the Arizona sun, the coating gives a bright white finish and resists the affects of the harsh desert climate.

A museum details history of the mission and preservation work. I’m fascinated with the video showing the intricate skills required by conservators. The knowledge, patience and attention to detail are to be admired.

san-xavier-del-bac-west-tower-window1san-xavier-del-bac-east-tower-window2 san-xavier-del-bac-east-tower-window-detail2 san-xavier-del-bac-window-detail1

As we take photos we can’t help but compare the two towers; eroded plaster, gaping holes and faded paint of the east tower increases appreciation of the flawless renovated west tower. We can imagine how magnificent it will be when all is complete.

san-xavier-del-bac-interior1We sometimes hear the gasps of wonder as visitors step into the church for the first time. Every surface seems to resonate with color: altars, statuary, arches, retablos, frescoes, carvings. Some have called this the "Sistine Chapel of North America." It’s quite a compilation of baroque and folk art. Whether one says a prayer and lights a candle or sits quietly observing the features this is a time to pause and contemplate.

Our visit ends as the setting sun brushes the walls with flecks of gold.

When You Go: San Xavier del Bac Mission is approximately 12 miles south of Tucson, exit 92 from I-19. The church is open daily 8am-5pm, museum open 8am-4:30pm. A gift shop is open 8am-5pm every day except Easter Sunday and Christmas. Admission is free, donations gratefully accepted. Please remember this is a place of worship, be respectful.

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Find It!

San Xavier del Bac Mission
San Xavier del Bac Mission
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