TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Tucson with Joyce

Joyce Levy, Tubac, Arizona

I got back from a month of being on the road with Abdul.  We were mostly in Tucson for the Gem and Bead Show.  Several days were spent going and coming through vast, unpopulated areas of the Western Desert states: Texas, New Mexico and then Arizona.  Lots of scenes like this:

That cross is there for a reason:  it's not easy to survive on the desert.  Well, that one was probably from a car accident, but still....  no water scares me.  Once in Tucson, my opinion did not get much better.  Big gusts of winds would lift up the dust and spread it everywhere.  I felt dirty all of the time.  Our hotel was filthy with no upgrades since the 1950's.  (Never stay at the Howard Johnson's, known as HoJo, if you can help it!)  Pipes broke, flooding and soaking the stinky carpeting.  I was not a happy nomad.  We had to set up the show and I hadn't seen much of the city.  When I did, it was at night, dark and scary looking.  

Tucson at Night

Tucson has observatories and a bunch of military things going on, I was told, so there are city ordinances about how much light can be on at night.  I would not like to go for a walk around the block on my own...  

Then, my friend, Joyce, rescued me from despair.  She lives in Skokie, a Chicago suburb, and her father lives in Tucson.  Every year she comes out at about this time and spends a month with him.  I got to bop around with them for a couple of afternoons, and, although I am no convert to the desert, they showed me some lovely areas.  

On the first afternoon, we went to see an exhibit at the Tucson Museum of Art,  Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Murray.  He had been a lover of hers and his photos of both her and Diego Rivera are spectacular!  There was also an accompanying display of Mexican garments that was lovely.  Joyce bought me a small decoupage of Frida which now hangs on my bathroom wall, a memory of a fine afternoon in Tucson!  We ate a sumptuous lunch at a cafe right next to the museum, indoor gardens, chirping birds and all of that wonderful SouthWestern decor.

From there we went to Sidney's (Joyce's father's) apartment.  He is 90 but looks and acts like he just turned 60.  He lives in one of those modern senior places that has a swimming pool and wonderful amenities.  Both Joyce and Sidney commissioned work from me in the past and I was finally able to see his pieces in their final destinations:

Rachel Biel and Sidney Levy

Here we stand in front of "Sidney's Ties" a weaving I made for Sidney of the ties he had worn for so many years as a professor.  You can see close-ups of the piece and the process on my blog:  Sidney's Ties.  Joyce had commissioned quilts made out of t-shirts worn by her brother, Bruce, who had an untimely death due to cancer.  Sidney had one of them and it was great fun to see it on his bed:

Sidney Levy with his memory quilt honoring his son, Bruce.

You can read about the other quilts on my blog as well:  The Bruce Quilt.  We swam and visited and by then it was time to take me back to the hotel from hell.

They rescued me a few days later for a little road trip.  Destination:  Tubac, Arizona!  Currently populated by about 100 families, the small town dedicates itself to a life of art.  The businesses are all galleries, cafes, and support services, making it a tourist destination out in the desert.  There was a huge festival going on when we went there, so that was perfect for the three of us, all art lovers.  But, first, we made a detour and saw the San Xavier Mission, just outside of Tucson.  The official site does not have any images of the church, very Franciscan of them, eh?  This google search has a bunch, but really, you have to experience it to really "see" it.  Layers upon layers of detail and texture cover the inside of the church.  You stand in the middle and just look around in awe.  I didn't even try to capture it on my camera.  The outside, though, was beautiful in its simplicity:

San Xavier Mission

Again, those inspiring SouthWestern lines:

Back to Tubac...  We had planned to meet up with Fran Siegal and her husband, Andy, who are TAFA members.  They live in New York and were also in Tucson for the show.  Finding them was not such an easy task and took up some of our time.  

Fran Siegal and Andy with me in the middle.
By then we were hot (but not sweaty!) so we sat at a cafe and had some refreshments.  The art town of Tubac is well planned with parking around the periphery and everything else within walking distance.  We explored a bit of the booths, did a bit of shopping and by then the afternoon had ended.

Joyce, Me and Sidney.

So, Joyce brought some spice into my Tucson time.  It was all very interesting and I enjoyed seeing the new landscapes, but when we were driving back towards my part of the country, I felt my spirits lift: back to the green, lush trees of the SouthEast!  I am truly living where I should be.

It was so wonderful to spend time with Joyce and her father and to meet Fran and Andy.  Joyce is a fountain of knowledge and always great fun to be with and now that I have met her father, I see that she is a chip off of the old block.  Precious people!



  1. We were in that HoJo in Tucson last February, and you are right, stinky carpet. It was fun seeing all the vendors though. I wish I had known about the mission. We spent quite a bit of time at the airplane museum, that was pretty cool.

  2. I heard about that airplane museum! Hopefully, I will be able to explore more if I get to go again. Definitely don't want to do the HoJo routine again though... We both got sick at the end with a stomach virus that was going around. Yish.......


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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