I never expected to feel like a foreigner in a city that’s been my second home for the last two decades. But it happened. A blend of joy and sadness erupted from my gut when I verbalized this particular contradiction. And I knew turning away wasn’t an option. In between gawking at the spectacle and sheer amount of people, I caught up with a couple I met shortly after first relocating to the Old Pueblo.
I also snapped a few photos when the mood struck me and my timing felt appropriate.
Taking part in the All Souls Procession as a photog feels like you’re shooting a citywide funeral, collectively capturing two hundred thousand people in mourning. The event started in 1990 by local artist Susan Johnson, who commemorated the passing of her father via the artistic mode. ‘From the beginning, it was different people’s ethnic groups, different cultures, but also it was all these different art forms put together,’ Johnson said, during an interview for the procession website. From Johnson’s personal, artistic memorialization, the procession now spans an entire weekend and attracts more than 150,000 people annually.
The mood concurrently feels celebratory, festive. And this balloon tailed me all evening, I snickered to myself while editing my images.
When the ocean of people began floating south, I waltzed on tempo — only breaking my stride if my shutter beckoned.
We all appear the same and cry similar tears when the light vanishes. This ultimate meeting of Tucson’s tribes drove home that fact. Then, the temperature dropped, making the sound of footsteps echo and visualized an exhaled breath.
By the close of the night, my legs wobbled with a pleasant ache. And my heart gushed as I slipped through the shadows of Barrio Viejo, thinking, ‘Obrigado, meu amigo.’
‘The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.’ — Marcel Proust
On Monday Sept. 18, Tucson Hebrew Academy held its annual “Passport2Peace” fundraising event, which educates students about local charitable organizations and allows them to donate funds to their favorite charities.
Informational booths are set up throughout THA’s courtyard. Professional or student liaisons explain how the charities help the community.
When the afternoon starts, students are given tokens, pre-purchased by their families, which hold a monetary value. Kids from every grade level then visit the various kiosks, learn about the organizations, enjoy activities, and decide where they’ll show their financial support.
Last year, more than $1,800 was donated by students to a dozen local non-profits including Tu Nidito, Youth on their Own, The Wounded Warriors Project, Ben’s Bells, The Trevor Project, Gabrielle’s Angels, the Hermitage Cat Shelter, and Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund. More than a dozen organizations signed up this year, including the Jewish History Museum/Holocaust History Center, the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona, The Trevor Project, Ronald McDonald House Charities, and Sister Jose Women’s Center.
Students designed colorful greeting cards, which will accompany care packages, for kids at Tu Nidito and the Kids of Steele at the Diamond Children’s Medical Center. At least $10,000 has been donated to local non-profits since the event started 10 years ago.
One of the core values of the THA is teaching the importance of the Jewish concept of tikkun olam or healing the world, says Head of School Jon Ben-Asher. Through service learning activities, “Passport2Peace” and other strategies, students not only learn that they have a moral imperative to make this world a better place, but actively participate in doing so, he says.
Originally published on Sept. 22, 2017.
Aching for mercy, my shell wondered two blocks west of Fourth Avenue. Time stopped that day; weeks after I noticed the Greetings Tour piece.
Muralist Victor Ving and photographer Lisa Beggs make up this RV-propelled mural project. The pair are traveling around the United States beautifying cities from coast-to-coast. Their stateside trek began in April 2015.
Ving is a former graffiti artist from Queens, New York. I caught him on the humble when he finished Tucson’s alleycat aerosol fresco. He’s drawing inspiration from Americana postcard art used between the 1930s and ’50s. I was excited when Ving told me local muralist Rock ‘Cyfi’ Martinez helped this piece along.
The day I ventured back to snap a few flicks, my soul needed a taste of the supernatural. The arts always provide.
A high school student from Des Moines, Iowa just copped a new DSLR. Here’s Dan in action, capturing a short reel for his first video project. He was all shy smiles when I introduced myself. His mom was supportive and genuinely bored, clicking a few photos with her mobile. It was a joy to see someone creating just because, then I realized we were one of same that day. Thanks, Dan.
I was losing light fast. Up with my bike, away with my phone and in a flash the evening escaped. My heartache dissipated as the night sky bled heavily overhead.
I worked with Michael B. Schwartz, director of the Tucson Arts Brigade, while writing for the Arizona Daily Star. When we first met, Schwartz spoke about a mural arts program he was trying to launch with the support of city leaders. The program had two goals; abate graffiti and beautify the city. He brightened, smiling wide, we he described his idea and worked laboriously to make it come alive.
Around the time these eight murals were completed, the city was looking for some photos of the successful, civically engaging project — and more specifically the local transit authority was designing its new schedule. Sun Tran wanted some shots and Schwartz says he knew who to call.
To see this program take off is one thing, but to play a small role in promoting this wonderful and invaluable project is another.