Tuesday, October 8, 2013

BrightSpots Constellation: We appreciate our Tucson artisans

As I have been paying attention to the evidence of autumn in Tucson, I have also noticed that I am sleeping better, getting more fresh air, and gaining a sense of gratitude for my life.  This coming weekend (October 11-13) offers us the Tucson Meet Yourself Festival and one of the terrific things about Tucson is we can "meet ourselves" every day if we are so inclined.  So Mark and I had our own mini-version of a Meet Yourself this past weekend and Mark took some fantastic photos that share our experiences.  The link takes you to the picasa album and photos are in order as I describe them in this post.  https://plus.google.com/photos/115037493039149573213/albums/5932526063553386785?authkey=CLOWyomBlYy7ugE&banner=pwa&gpsrc=pwrd1#photos/115037493039149573213/albums/5932526063553386785?authkey=CLOWyomBlYy7ugE&banner=pwa&gpsrc=pwrd1

First off/BrightSpot #1:  The Maker House, www.makerhouse.org .  I have been looking forward to this new event and learning space since they launched their crowdsourcing venture in the summer and I became a small investor.  Through that effort ($53,000) plus an additional $75,000 from the founder, Tony Ford's, software business, Art Fire, The Maker House had a soft opening on 10/5.  [Note: ArtFire is a software marketplace for arts and crafts and is second in sales only to itsy].  Tony gave us and another visitor a personal tour of the redo to the former Bates Mansion.  This 1880s mansion predated the infamous 1930s-1960s Owls Club (part bordello) and had three spacious pools (now covered and one is the floor of the Solarium) and inlaid mesquite floors (visible), along with other fine architectural elements. 

The mural by Slavador Corona was added in the 1960s who also did murals for the Manning and Jacome home.  It is one of three of his surviving murals in the USA. 

The Maker House is not a hackerspace which is the purpose of Gangplank who, along with The Maker House, Xerocraft and others have formed  Downtown Inovation Companies since July.  The Maker House is the "home" to Art Fire and will be offering affordable membership-driven classes and will also have events open to the general public. 

Their coffeehouse serves Fair Trade, nano-roasted coffee and pastries prepared by a Cordon Bleu trained pastry chef .  We had a generous cup of hot chocolate that was the creamiest we've ever had, and enjoyed the set-up for the lightshow in the refurbished courtyard.  In the near future the courtyard will feature heirloom gardening, yoga classes and an outdoor movie theatre.  All spaces at The Maker House are multifunctional and can be used/rented for diverse uses.

Next on our BrightSpot list:  The Sonoran Glass School www.sonoranglass.org .  I featured it last year in my blog and I can tell you that at least one visit a year during their pumpkin-glass blowing events is going to become a ritual for us. 

This year we had a long "happiness" conversation with one of their former students, now a volunteer who is starting her own glass art business www.facebook.com/kemaurer .  She led us into the back room where we me master lamp/flame worker Bronwen Heilman www.bronwenheilman.com .  She had us put on glasses so we could better view the flamework and took us, step by step through the making of a leaf shaped pendant. The flame glows at 2400 degrees and starts with her taking two solid tubes of colored glass to form a "glob of glass"; this process is called "gathering."  Then she sculpts the glass and, in this case, used a press for the leaf shape.  Next, she stretches the glass, closes it and pokes a hole in it for a necklace chain.  To finish it and prevent it from cracking, she places it in a 950 degree kiln for "annealing" where the glass molecules resettle and align. 

Just a beautiful craft to watch and we left with two small flameworked pumpkins and a decorated box with a pumpkin bead.

My #3 BrightSpot was our dinner stop at the Pasco Kitchen & Lounge, founded by Chef Romiro Scavo www.pascokitchen.com .  We had walked around the UA's main campus and scouted out a couple of places to eat but this one was new to us, although it has been thriving on University Blvd. for two years.  We were able to take advantage of their happy hour.  We ordered two salads and split the entree.

Mark's salad was the house-made Mozarrella and Tomato salad with spring mix, pesto and shaved parmesan.  Mine was the Farmer's Market salad which varies each day--this one had spring greens, carrots, red beet pieces, shaved parmesan.  Our entree included Heritage pork tacos and freshly made pico do gallo with green chilis and cilantro. 

Everything was tasty and our patio service came with a smile and comfortable attention.  A special "shout out" to this restaurant which features local food providers such as the UA Meat Lab, Anita's Street Tortillas and the Food Conspiracy Coop.  On the menu, not only are the providers named but the mileage number for each provider is also noted, demonstrating that the providers are indeed very local!

As we ended our weekend and drove home, we remarked to each other that life indeed becomes happier when the three digit temps are behind us and cool evenings and mornings stretch before us.  But, throughout the year, we all need to remember our local businesses and artisans who also have to survive the summer--so do a "meet yourself" twelve months a year, not only in October!

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