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Weekend Preview: Boycott this! edition

This is one of those weekends that makes the conversations happening around the world about the backwardness of our state and our hometown seem wholly underinformed.

There is a definite air of civic engagement in the programming offerings of clubs and arts organizations, as well as a commitment to the unique cultural hybrid that is Tucson. If the 24-hour news cycle portrayal of your community has made you despair of late, the perfect remedy is a visit to some of these choice weekend events.

Boycott your television and embrace some local culture.

Friday

Abraham Cooper in 'Wilderness' at Candelabra Gallery

Tucson musician and poet Abraham Cooper is not afraid of being called a performance artist. He has long collaborated in various Tucson happenings, but is emerging from his various supporting roles to take the helm with "Wilderness," a music performance debuting this Friday at the Candelabra Gallery.

Cooper describes "Wilderness" as "An allegorical narrative of a boy who enters the wilderness and faces a variety of forces which allow him to become a man." This song cycle is sure to be rendered not simply as a musical performance, but as something strange and evocative.

"Wilderness" Friday 9 p.m.at Candelabra Gallery, 412 E. 7th St. $3.

Ghost of 505, Young Mothers, Common Loon at Plush

If Cooper's performance seems a bit out there for you, Plush is hosting two of Tucson's most solid indie pop outfits. The Ghost of 505 and Young Mothers are both solidly optimistic in tone and make for a shimmering jangle of an evening not afraid to rock earnestly and unabashedly.

Opening for these two is Champaign, IL's Common Loon, a moodier act more shoegaze than alt-rock in their 90s nods than Ghost of 505 or Young Mothers.

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Ghost of 505, Young Mothers, Common Loon Friday 9 p.m. at Plush, 340 E. 6th St. 798-1298. $5

Saturday

Border Action Network Fundraiser at Hotel Congress

In the wake of SB 1070, the Hotel Congress has organized a fundraising event for the Border Action Network Saturday evening. The Border Action Network was formed in 1999, and works with immigrant and border communities in Southern Arizona "to ensure that our rights are respected, our human dignity upheld and that our communities are healthy places to live."

To raise money and awareness, organizers have assembled a trio of stages, as well as a silent auction and art show. Local country acts The Last Call Girls and Kevin Pakulis will play inside on the Club Congress stage, while the patio stage will host mariachi sounds with the border sounds of Pablo and Sally, followed by a set by Mariachi Tesoro de Tucson. At nightfall, fire dancers Poi Zen will perform. The auction ends at 9 and includes two JMStar scooters. 

Border Action Network fundraiser Sat. 6-10 p.m. at Hotel Congress, 311 E. Congress St. 622-8848. $10 suggested donation.

Sacred Machine grand opening

The world-class Tucson-based artist who built the stage at the Club Congress, itself worth the price of admission, has expanded his role in Tucson along with his partner and bandmate.

Daniel Martin Diaz has long been collected worldwide for his unique oil work. Borrowing from Latin American and religious art traditions, Diaz has shown all over the world, and is represented by galleries in New York and London. The child of Mexican immigrants, he describes his art as centrally concerned with both the social and the spiritual: "I am most influenced by the great amount of human suffering that has occurred throughout history and one’s undying faith in the after life. Often times I am subconsciously influenced by world attitudes or stories and also by the people I am closest to."

He and wife Paula Catherine Valencia, who also collaborate in musical project Blind Divine, open a new gallery space on Saturday on Congress St. with a selection of Diaz's work which will show later this year in Santa Fe, Montral and Rome.

Sacred Machine Grand Opening Sat. 7 p.m. 245 E. Congress St #123.

'I Dream In Widescreen'at Fox Theatre

On Saturday, the BFA candidates of the UA Media Arts program will hold an end-of-year celebratory screening at the Fox Theatre. Sure, they're student films. But who knows? Perhaps the next great voice to emerge from our region has a four-minute short in the program.

The group seems newly energized, and 500 people intend to attend, according to a certain networking website. That feels like a renewed interest in the work of young filmmakers, and suggests the program, though unscreened by this critic, might be worth a visit to the Fox.

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"I Dream In Widescreen" Sat. 7 p.m. at the Fox Theatre, 17 W. Congress St. 624-1515. Free.

'16' at T.A.C. Studios

Another sweet 16 is the group show at the TAC Studios, where the works of 16 talented local artists will be on display. Tucson painter Donovan White will be painting "live" in the studio during the event, and visitors will be encouraged to participate in Alex Jimenez's interactive art installation "Small Spaces."

Among the works an the walls will be photographs by Taylor Graham, whose diptychs trouble the waters between metonomy and metaphor in hip but post-ironic images.

The opening reception also includes live music by Justin Martinez.

"16" opening Sat. 7 p.m. at T.A.C. Gallery, 416 E. 9th St. 409-4751. Free.

Sugar Beast Circus and Brian Lopez and Friends at Solar Culture Gallery

The Sugar Beast Circus, an outgrowth of Tucson's circus culture, of which founder and director Geneva Foster Gluck was an integral part before her departure for Europe, presents "Milkwood Rodeo" at Solar culture Saturday.

The performance, which includes live circus acts, archival video projection and animation, is described as "an autobiographical fantasy...Exploring the boundaries of storytelling, this project is a comtemplative journey of magicians and the subconscious, of Frank Sinatra and a clown and how we tell stories to survive."

Opening the show will be the moody, contemplative songwriting of Brian Lopez (Mostly Bears) and his band, which includes cellist Mona Chambers (Molehill Orkestrah) and violinist Vicki Brown. The EP Lopez circulates at gigs was recorded at another set at Solar Culture; his band fills the wood and even the masonry of that building with warmth and intensity.

Sugar Beast Circus and Brian Lopez at Solar Culture Sat. 9 p.m. 31 E. Toole Ave. $8.

Besnard Lakes, The Happy Hollows, La Cerca at Plush

Unlike fellow Montreal indie darlings, Stars, who told Pitchfork they wouldn't play Tucson before anyone asked, Besnard Lakes will grace the Plush stage Saturday. The band's third album, "The Besnard Lakes Are the Roaring Night" is a lovely and difficult one, with songwriters and husband and wife Jace Lasek and Olga Goreas using track layering upon track to create a broad sonic landscape for their songs, creating a compelling cocktail of psychedelia and soaring melodies.

California indie rockers Happy Hollows will join Besnard Lakes. Led by singer and guitarist Sarah Negahdari, whose YouTube antics suggest she might both rock you with guitar licks and make you double over with laughter, this band puts on a great live show.

Tucson's La Cerca, whose 80s-laced alt-rock is some of the best in Tucson, open the evening with dreamy shoegaze-pop. Songwriter/singer/guitarist Andrew Gardner has been prolific lately. Catch some of his new songs along with your old favorites.

Besnard Lakes, Happy Hollows, La Cerca at Plush Sat. 9 p.m. at Plush, 340 E. 6th St. 798-1298. $10.

Sunday

Volunteer Fair at Rialto Theatre

They say that one of the best ways to cure your own despondency is to get off your butt and help someone else. Whoever "they" are, they are absolutely right. And the folks at the Rialto have given their space over to 85 local nonprofits on Sunday to offer you the chance to connect with the charity of your choice, and to commit to a few hours a week, or even a month, to enact positive change in your community.

Not to mention that the event is a great place to meet other smart and charitable people.

Volunteer Fair Sun. 1-4 p.m. at Rialto Theatre, 316 E. Congress St. 740-1000. Free.

Read Between the Bars benefit at The Boxing Gym

Speaking of volunteering, I spent several years teaching creative writing and film studies to prisoners at Utah's notorious state prison, the one where they shot Gary Gilmore. I held my classes in one of the dreariest rooms I had ever seen: the prison library. Many shelves were empty; others were stuffed with ancient, yellowing magazines and technical manuals for outdated gadgetry.

This Sunday, Tucson-based nonprofit Read Between the Bars will hold a fundraiser and art auction at the boxing gym. Naturally I was compelled to lend my voice to the program, as were local acts Silver Thread Trio, Leila Lopez, Vicki Brown, JC Olsen and Lisa O'Neill. The event also features "fire-hooping" by Revo Lution, food from Brooklyn Pizza Company and Small Planet Bakery.

An art auction and your donation at the door go toward postage to mail books to prisons. The event is family-friendly.

Read Between the Bars benefit Sun. 5-10 p.m. at The Boxing Gym, 1080 N. Contzen (I-10 and Speedway). $5-7 donation at the door.

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Courtesy artist

From Tucson photographer Taylor Graham's 'Connected.' Graham is one of the artists featured in '16.'

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