Designer for Hire


-- Download (P)interesting as PDF --

Push-Pin-Vector We take a look at what the design pros are loving on Pinterest. This week: Michelle Wood ASID shares some goodies for the home.


1. Sundance Sofa – We love this sofa by Hancock & Moore.  With it’s wine-colored leather, button tufting and nailhead detail, this sofa is truly a head-turner.  Hancock & Moore is known for its high quality furnishings designed to last for years, offering solid maple frames and eight-way hand tied construction, as well as a vast selection of fabrics, leathers, and wood finishes to choose from.
2. Talavera Rug This is a great indoor/outdoor area rug by Company C.  We love the combination of turquoise and terra cotta that will definitely bring a sense of Spanish style to your space.
3. Iron Table Lamp with Crystals – One of many unique and beautiful products from Jene’s Collection. The golden drop crystals add a touch of glamour to an iron base, without being too formal.  A very popular seller!




4. Origami Cabinet by Ambella Home – It’s clear why this is one of our favorites. It’s contemporary, elegant, and multi-functional for use as a sideboard or cabinet for media.  Crafted with mahogany, faux ivory parchment lacquer and dramatic solid brass pulls that make this cabinet a work of art.
5.  Orillo Fabric – We love the contemporary spin on a Southwest style pattern seen in this fabric by Andrew Martin.  This fabric also comes in other color ways, but the pink adds a fresh pop of color to any space.
* Find more pins from Michelle and her company, Sunset Interiors & Design Studio, here. And make sure you follow 3 Story Magazine’s Pinterest boards.


-- Download (P)interesting as PDF --

Push-Pin-Vector We take a look at what the design pros are loving on Pinterest. This week: interior designer Pat Mooney ASID shares some pins inspired by Las Vegas Market home and trade show. 

1. Lexington Mason Jar pendant lights, set of 3, by IMAX. I love that it looks like it was ages old but it is a brand new spin on mason jars. Hang them grouped together. Looks fantastic.

2. This Edison bulb lighting (by Uttermost) done as a wall sconce has an industrial spin. The back plate looks like an old saw blade.

3. Pluto chandelier by Noir. The shape is so much like a constellation of stars in the night sky. I love the shape, it looks like it could float.

4. I’m always looking for a quality solar light for night-time entertaining, and can’t seem to find solar string lights anywhere locally. The Aurora Glow-Clear by Allsop Home & Garden is quality, hand-blown and has no color, so won’t conflict with other styles of string lighting. And because it’s glass it won’t fade or break down like plastic will.

5. The Aurora Glow-Sea Glass solar string lights are made of hand-blown artisan glass and are LED. Also by Allsop.

* Find more pins from Pat and her company, Designlines, here. And make sure you follow 3 Story Magazine’s Pinterest boards.


-- Download (P)interesting as PDF --

Push-Pin-Vector We take a look at what the design pros are loving on Pinterest. This week: interior designer Sharmin Pool, ASID shares some pins inspired by Las Vegas Market home and trade show. Click on the photos for links.

1. Technology, technology, technology. At Las Vegas Market  it was integrated into everything from smart thermostats to smart refrigerators. Motorized window coverings for the whole house can now be run off your smart phone or iPad. Below is the world’s first energy monitoring thermostat for floor heating from, available in seven colors.

radiant heating pic

Photo courtesy of Warmup.







2. Steampunk influences furniture with this bar cart from Yosemite Home Decor.


3. There were lots of grays, but great pops of color too – often a trend that says we are moving out of a recession/depression, so full of optimism.


Color was on display from Wilsonart.











This vivid six-burner gas oven is from Bertazzoni.

* Find more pins from Sharmin and her company, Complete Dimensions, here. And make sure you follow 3 Story Magazine’s Pinterest boards.

Pleased to Meet You

-- Download Pleased to Meet You as PDF --

On the eve of the very first Tucson Jazz Festival, executive director Yvonne Ervin talks custom-made boots, jazz lingo and her dream jazz band. By Joan Calcagno.

yvonne ervin

Yvonne Ervin

Early bird or night owl? “I used to be a night owl when I lived in New York, but now I’m an early bird. I get up by at least by six every morning, jump on the stationary bike. And then I get in the Jacuzzi with my Kindle and I do my email. Then I get dressed and come over to Connect Coworking, and I have a home office. I usually don’t get out of here till 7 pm. It’s a long day. And I’ve been working seven days a week. There’s no other way – you have to be [dedicated to work] to pull this thing off!”

yvonneboots Favorite accessory? “My new boots [pictured left]. Look at these! This is the Tucson Jazz Society logo [on the front in silver leather]. I had Paul Bond down in Nogales make them for me. They’re fun. I wear size 13 so it’s either sandals or custom-made boots. These are my new babies.”

Favorite faux pas? “It goes back to my early days of booking artists for the Jazz Society. I got a call from Steve Getz, Stan Getz’s son. He wanted to book Phil Woods who is a great alto player. Steve said ‘We’d like to get Phil out [to Tucson} again.’ I said ‘So what’s the bread?’ He said ‘Six bills’. That was twice what we had paid him last time, so I talked to the board. Then I called Steve and said ‘Yes, that looks good. We’ll do it” He said ‘Are you sure $6,000. isn’t too much?’ I said ‘Steve, maybe in New York a bill is a thousand dollars but here in Tucson it’s still a hundred dollars. So, no, we don’t have a deal.” In the jazz business everyone tries to out-hip the other person. It’s a whole different lingo.”

Who is your dream customer? “I run the Western Jazz Presenters Network and when we get together for drinks our favorite game is to put together the band from hell – the most difficult people to work with – and try and top each other. I’d like to think of what a dream band might be – one that’s never been done. We’ve got this really cool band for the festival – JD Souther and Billy Childs. That’s never been done. That will be fun. But I think my dream band would be DeeDee Bridgewater on vocals, who’s an absolute sweetheart, and Lewis Nash on the drums – he’s a great jazz drummer from Phoenix. I’d put Cyrus Chestnut on piano – another great player. He was here recently at UA Presents. And the bass player would be Boris Kozlov – he plays Charles Mingus’ bass.”

tji ellington band

The Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band, which will play at the Tucson Jazz Festival.

If I weren’t the Executive Director of the Jazz Festival, I would… “I would love to direct the Monterey Jazz Festival, which is another of my favorite festivals. It’s been around for 50-plus years. Beautiful setting. Just three days – not thirteen! It has many stages with big name artists and emerging artists, a youth component and an education component.”

If I could change one thing I would… “It’s awfully nerdy but I always said that when I’m queen of the universe I’m going to change the FASBE rule. It’s this really arcane Internal Revenue Service way that non-profits have to account for their income. For example, if the organization receives a pledge for a million dollars spread over five years, they have to account the full million as income in the year they received the pledge. It’s one of those things that annoy me to death because it makes accounting for income so onerous. It doesn’t really make sense.”

What would you tell someone new to jazz about the about the festival? “Whenever anyone asks me about getting into jazz I tell them that they need to go out and buy the [Miles Davis] album Kind of Blue. It’s the best-selling jazz album of all time. It was recorded in 1959 and has it has held up all these years. It has some of the greatest players that have ever lived on it, including Jimmy Cobb who is going to be performing at the Jazz Festival with the Tucson Jazz Institute Ellington Band and Joey DeFrancesco in a trio setting.”


Joe DeFrancesco will play at the Tucson Jazz Festival. Photo courtesy of Tracy Ketcher

*The 2015 Tucson Jazz Festival takes place January 16th to 28th in several downtown venues. Get all the details on the festival’s website and follow festival happenings on their Facebook page.  Find out more about Yvonne on her website.

Click  here for more in our Pleased to Meet You series.

Pleased to Meet You

-- Download Pleased to Meet You as PDF --

Stephen Paul, maker of Whiskey Del Bac at Hamilton Distillers, talks serious hats and his love affair with mesquite. By Joan Calcagno. Photos courtesy of Hamilton Distillers.




Early bird or night owl? “I’m an early bird. I generally wake up at 5.30 and then, of course, I start to fade at 9 o’clock. We’ve been going full-tilt here. It’s been really intense but it’s all been build-out and equipment hook-up. Full-tilt will mean something different here in a few days – we’ll be going into full production.”

Favorite accessory? “My hats. Being a desert person and abusing my skin my whole life, about seven years ago I started wearing hats everywhere. Winter hats are more fun than summer hats because they’re felt – they’re more serious. You can do things with them that are harder to do in straw, like shape them.”


Favorite faux pas? “Would be hard to choose from because there are so many. My wife Elaine always says she needs to carry a portable jaws-of-life to extract my foot from my mouth at any given moment.”

hamilton3 Who is your dream customer? “It’s someone who is curious about the world, loves single malt whiskey and appreciates the place that is the Sonoran desert.

“Curious people are always really fun to talk to. If you’re interested, it makes you interesting. Single malt whiskey-loving is sort of obvious. The relationship to the Sonoran desert is – I love this place. And what we’re doing really has a sense of being from a place in terms of the mesquite.

“I’ve always loved mesquite. We’ve had this long relationship with it from when we were making mesquite furniture at Arroyo Design. I’d take my mesquite scraps home to barbeque with. Elaine and I are both scotch drinkers and one evening she said ‘Why couldn’t we malt barley over mesquite instead of peat like they do in Scotland?’ So I ordered a little five-gallon still and it kept going and kept tuning out well and one thing led to another and here we are.”

If I weren’t an owner of Hamilton Distillers I would… “I have so many interests. I know I’d be busy at something. I can’t stop. If I was retired I’d be gardening and reading and exploring Arizona and beyond – traveling, still learning. That’s what I’d be doing! Still learning! Which is what I’m doing here.”

If I could change one thing I would… “I would look for ways to decrease the insolation that people have. I would expose people to more cultures than their own – more variation and diversity than they’re used to. I would try to get people to broaden their experiences so as to understand each other better.”

What do U.S. and Hamilton Distillers do that is different than traditional whisky making? “There’s more exploration – a lot bigger sense of adventure in America. Americans are like that, right? We are not afraid to fail. So when we have ideas, we’re free to pursue them without fear of falling down. We know we can get back up and start running again. That’s kind of uniquely American. So now there’s a whiskey made with barley malted over mesquite smoke instead of peat. There’s a distiller in Texas doing a blue corn whiskey. There are incredible gins out there using local botanicals. It’s just really exploded. In Scotland they’re making Scotch. There are different levels of smoke, but there’s basically just Scotch.

hamilton4  “What really sets [Hamilton Distillers] apart is that we malt our own barley. There are only five distilleries out of hundreds in the country that malt their own barley. We had to because it’s the mesquite smoke [that makes it really unique]. And we continue through the process doing it all in-house. It’s very craft. And very authentic.”

* You can purchase Hamilton Distillers’ Whiskey Del Bac at Plaza Liquors at 2642 N. Campbell, The Rumrunner, AJ’s Fine Foods, and Whole Foods at Oracle and Ina. To keep up with them, follow Hamilton on Facebook and subscribe to the newsletter on their website. To tour the distillery contact: info@hamiltondistilleries or (520) 628-9244

Pleased to Meet You

-- Download Pleased to Meet You as PDF --


Mel Dominguez at work. Photo by Mochi Gregurich.

Mel Dominguez, Tucson artist and creator of this year’s All Souls Procession poster image, talks about her magic hat, the nostalgia of riding the railway, and speaking for the desconocidos. By Joan Calcagno

Early bird or night owl? “Both. I can’t sleep. I’ve had my episodes with death. I have chronic pancreatitis and it hit me at the age of 29. It exploded. And it was critical. You take medication or they put you to sleep so I had all these dreams. Now that I’m awake, I can’t just let this time go, you know? The essence of time. I’m fixed on it now. I take my siestas – catch a cat-nap in the middle of the day – and then I get going again. I feel blessed to be here and awake.”


Photo courtesy of Melissa Brown-Dominguez

Favorite accessory? “My hat. I didn’t wear it today. My wife told me ‘Hey, take it off!’ because I’m always wearing it to work and at home. It was created by one of my old-time friends from when I used to paint graffiti. I’m always wearing that hat. It’s like my Felix the Cat magic bag – I pull it off and grab ideas out of it.”

Favorite faux pas? “One time, Jehovah’s witnesses came knocking and I opened the door because I love talking to people. As I’m answering the door, my neighbor who lives across the street – he’s about five or six – he opens his door too and yells ‘Hey Mel, you’re not supposed to answer the door!’. Me and the Jehovah’s witnesses are just standing there looking at each other – I wanted to evaporate. Like, beam me up somebody! He’s a great little kid, but that’s my favorite faux pas – he actually said that out loud.”


Artwork courtesy of Melissa Brown-Dominguez.

Who is your dream customer? “The people here in Tucson just exemplify that. They’re just awesome. I don’t even know anymore, I’ve been able to do so many awesome things. [As to a specific customer -] Nickelodeon, if they were to come to me, or a toy company and say ‘Hey, Mel, we love this little character, let’s rock ‘n roll’ or Adult Swim or anything – I just want to share and have people laugh.”

If I weren’t an artist I would… “Oh, I’d be a train engineer. Yaahhh. They get to travel the country and bring things to people and take people to other places. You sit up in the front and it’s the biggest motor you could ever ride and the biggest horn. It’s a dream – the railroad – it can go on and on. It’s about dreams and people and wanderlust – the hobos who hopped the trains. It’s a thing. You can wash dishes for two weeks and then ride on, you know?”


Photo by Mochi Gregurich.

If I could change one thing I would… “Even if it was tough to deal with at that time and moment, it really made me who I am right now. But if there was one thing – change the relationship with my dad’s family. Maybe as a young person, maybe write more. But as a young kid you don’t know how easy that is – that four miles isn’t that far. That you could walk or bicycle to be closer to my dad’s family – [and not lose touch].”

What does the skeleton imagery in your work mean to you? “I started utilizing that image because I’ve done Day of the Dead [graphics] before in east Los Angeles, but when I came here seven years ago, it was such a shell shock. In LA I worked in the shops with migrants making clothes. But when we came to Arizona I didn’t see them alive. I saw them dead. So celebrating Day of the Dead here in Arizona, it meant something totally different for me.

“And I saw a lot of artists painting Day of the Dead – which is cool and awesome – but as a person of Mexican descent and being an eye-witness to what goes on here on the border, I feel obligated to really explain and help people understand what’s going on here – because I didn’t feel right, I mean how do you take money [for that]?

“But’s what’s cool is that this year at Pop Cycle for the November 7th show called Mixtec Tux, I created a t-shirt design and it’s got a little woman on there and little cross and it says ‘Desconocido’, which means ‘unknown”. So many are unknown because of their skeletal remains. The proceeds from the design I’m donating to Derechos Humanos’ Missing Migrant Project. How cool to be an artist in this time. I feel I’ve been given a purpose as an artist. Not just to be an artist in this community of Tucson but to speak for the people that come here to better their lives.”

* Find out more about Mel and see more of her artwork on her website and for sale on the walls of the Tucson Tamale Company’s three locations. Follow her on Facebook.

* The Mixtec Tux show takes place at Pop Cycle, Friday November 7th, 7-9pm.

Pleased to Meet You

-- Download Pleased to Meet You as PDF --

Architect Nathan Colkitt, a UA alum who will return to Tucson as part of Tucson Fashion Week, talks empathetic design, the evolution of men’s fashion and his eternal optimism. By Joan Calcagno.


Nathan Colkitt, who will be part of Tucson Fashion Week.

Early bird or night owl? “You know, I love the morning and I think I’m an early bird, but I definitely enjoy staying up too. I work the best at night and am the most creative at night but there’s nothing like the morning and the sun coming up. That’s a really special time and I enjoy that. I enjoy personal time in the morning and at night I enjoy socializing, being creative, going out and being around people. But the morning is definitely for me. It’s like a special communion with the day.”


The Cartel Coffee Lab in Phoenix, one of Colkitt & Co’s designs. Photo by Cheryl Ramsay.

Favorite accessory? “I really love cufflinks. I think those are a really fun accessory. Right now I’m into stuff from the 1920s and 30s and so I’ve been collecting gold cufflinks. I’ve got some very cool ones that I’m really happy with. They’re really special and delicate. Jewelry, especially men’s jewelry, has become so chunky – it’s become so big, which is cool and I can appreciate that, but men’s cufflinks used to be so elegant and nice and not overdone. I like wearing them with a contemporary shirt that’s cut very classical.”

Favorite faux pas? “I have a lot of unfavorite ones. Favorite faux pas? That’s so tough. But if you take it back to design, I really think great design is all about empathy. The greatest designers have to have the utmost empathy for the client’s situation to be able to truly understand what somebody wants. So it really bothers me when there is a void and people don’t really try to understand. It makes it really hard when you don’t connect.”


One of Colkitt & Co’s residential designs. Photo by Jim Bartsch and Cheryl Ramsay.

Who is your dream customer? “I like to say that I don’t really have one. I try to be in the moment as much as possible. I like to approach design as though I’m six years old and have never experienced this before. So when I meet any person that is a potential client, I love that experience of meeting them for the first time. I feel every client is better and better. So I try not to have a favorite or expectations. For me, that’s worked out really well in the sense that our next customer, our next project, always is the best one.”

If I weren’t an architect I would… “Be on ‘permacation’ – permanently on vacation. Any kind of down, beach-time I can get. I definitely opt for that. I try to visit friends and family all over the place. You have to make time for that. I would literally go insane if I didn’t take time off once-in-a-while.”

If I could change one thing I would… “I’m very idealistic and sometimes, you know, your greatest strength is your biggest weakness in life. I’m so optimistic that sometimes it’s hard to get grounded and back to reality because you over-estimate how wonderful and easy life is. Sometimes it would be nice to be able to relate to people more and not think everything is so wonderful.”

nathcolkitt2 What or who are you seen wearing the most? “I usually dress pretty casually and try to fit in most days. But I do like dressing up probably more than the average person. My favorite thing to wear is men’s fashion from the 1930s. There were so many different options and styles, but there was a lot of restraint. It was a really interesting time. Similar to the 70s in the sense that anytime you see a really bad economy, you see everything under the sun, and yet there is a lot of conservatism at some level. Wide lapels and generous proportions came back in the 70s, inspired partially by the 30s. It was one of the best times for men’s fashion.”

*As part of Tucson Fashion Week’s Launch Party, Nathan will judge the Designer Competition where each fashion designer will create a garment inspired by a Colkitt & Co architecture structure. Thursday October 16th at Connect Coworking, 33 South 5th Ave. Tickets available here.

*Find out more about Nathan and his San Diego and New York-based firm Colkitt & Co. at


Pleased to Meet You

-- Download Pleased to Meet You as PDF --

Celia Bertoia, daughter of iconic furniture designer Harry Bertoia, dishes on her famous father. By Joan Calcagno.


Celia as a baby with her father Harry. Photo courtesy of Celia Bertoia.

Early bird or night owl? “Definitely I am an early bird. My morning is very important to me. It’s when I do my meditation, I get some exercise, I have my cup of tea, and a substantial breakfast. I have about two hours’ worth of personal routine before working.  I do my best work in the morning also. My husband likes to rise later, so it’s my private time and very valuable.”


Celia today, author of a new book about her father Harry. Photo courtesy of Harry Bertoia Foundation.

Favorite accessory? “I may be kind of boring, but I love my landline phone. I can hear better and it’s stable. I’m right at my desk so I can take notes or look on the computer if I need to. You know, it just works well for me and I don’t think I’m going to give it up for years.”

Favorite faux pas? “Of course I can think of many errors I’ve made throughout the years, but, probably one is calling people by the wrong name. Sometimes l look at someone and they just look like a Linda or a Mark and that just keeps coming to my brain. Of course they’re usually so polite that they don’t say anything and I don’t realize it till later. But it makes me vulnerable and that’s always a good thing.”

Who is your dream customer? “My overall mission is to further the legacy of Harry Bertoia. So what comes to mind for me is someone who loves Harry Bertoia’s work, who is a big fan, who has brilliant ideas about marketing and promotion. Someone who would support the Foundation and help with their expertise and finances. That’s my ideal person.”


Harry Bertoia’s Diamond Chair. Photo courtesy of the Harry Bertoia Foundation.

If I could change one thing I would… “That’s so tough to put into one synopsis. But I would want it to be something like requiring people to be honest and loving. If they could do that, so many other things would fall into place. If we could just be right where we are in life – and not try to make it sound better or different – just be who we are – and be kind to each other – what a different world that would be.”

Tell us something about your dad we didn’t know.  “He was very humble and had a sort of eastern philosophy where the self was not that important. He didn’t even sign his work – or title them. He felt the viewer was more important than the creator – the viewer looks at a piece of art and finds meaning for themselves But he did have quite a temper. His anger would come out in interesting ways. If he was mad about something he would come home and he would do yard work with a vengeance. He’d cut down trees or dig huge holes or throw rocks around. That was his way of venting his anger.”


Harry Bertoia was known for his ergonomically designed furniture. Metal was a favorite material. Photo courtesy of the Harry Bertoia Foundation.

* As part of Tucson Modernism Week Celia will giving a lecture, The Life and Work of Harry Bertoia, Saturday, October 4th, 11:30 to 12:30, Faith Lutheran Church, 3925 E. 5th St. Tickets available here.

Her book The Life and Work of Harry Bertoia: The Man, the Artist, the Visionary is due out in March 2015. Find out more about Harry Bertoia and his work on the Harry Bertoia foundation website.      

Pleased to Meet You

-- Download Pleased to Meet You as PDF --

Darcy Landis has the enviable job title of ‘forager’ for Whole Foods, which just opened its new store in northwest Tucson. Here, Darcy talks food nerds, inappropriate giggling, and burning the candle at both ends. By Joan Calcagno. Cover photo courtesy of Whole Foods.

darcy landis

Darcy Landis, food forager. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods

Early bird or night owl? “I’m more a – there’s a scientific name for it – but I’m a dusk and dawn person. I like to get up way too early before the sun is up and have quiet time by myself and then get the day going or do the total opposite – stay up late. I have small children so that makes you an ‘all-day, all-night’ person. So whenever I have the time to reflect – that’s that pre-dawn time. Whether I get up really early or stay up really late, I love that time. The desert smells good, it’s kind of cool still.”


One of Darcy’s favorite water bottles, by Liberty

Favorite accessory? “It’s going to have to be my water bottle. I’m water bottle obsessed. I currently have a Liberty water bottle, which is very nice because it is made from a steel works in the United States. It’s my go-to bottle. It has enamel inside, so there’s no ‘off-taste’. But I’d really like to get a Kleen Kanteen. There’s also the Lifefactory which is an all-glass bottle. Or a Hydro Flask…”

Favorite faux pas? “Laughing inappropriately. If you choose your favorite by what you do the most, I’m an inappropriate laugher. I’ve been known to laugh at a funeral. Maybe it’s an icebreaker, I don’t know. I’m a giggler. I’m definitely the person that disrupted high school by giggling.”


Whole Foods’ latest store on Tucson’s northwest side. Photo courtesy of Whole Foods

Who is your dream customer? “I started in the stores as a bagger in 1998. I would love to bag up some groceries for Dolly Parton. But my favorite customer is two different ones. One is a person who is doing everything new. They haven’t really thought about what they eat before and now they’re thinking about what they eat and everything is new and exciting. Like they ask ‘What’s this?’ and it’s hummus. The other one is the super food-nerd who wants to know all the details, like what temperature the oven is to get the crust on this bread. I love that because I know that stuff and where’s the fun in knowing if no one ever asks!”

If I weren’t a Whole Foods forager I would… “I feel like I wouldn’t do anything else. This job is made for me. It’s kind of perfect. But if I had gone another way, I think I might have gone into nursing because it is another way to care for people.”

If I could change one thing I would… “Oh. Not war and famine? Like something more fun? Because famine would be a good thing to change. I guess I’d like everyone to be curious. A lot of things would be more fun and a lot of bad things would go away if everyone was just a little more curious.”

Tell us a little more about foraging. “There is one characteristic that a forager has to have: to be easily excited. You have to see the potential in the thing and be so excited about it the whole way through the process so that you can midwife it to the market and get it to where it needs to be.

“I kind of get excited about everything. You could name a product that we carry and I can tell you about when it was in the approval process and how excited I was about it. Some of the stuff I’ve been really excited to bring to the market in the past was local grains and flours, local beans, because there was so much history in Arizona with those agricultural crops and being able to reintroduce them to the public.


Whole Foods’ new Oracle Road store. Photo courtesy of Tucson Foodie

“Right now we’re working with the first meadery in Arizona. It’s a product that customers don’t have a lot of exposure to. But the market is kind of already there; people love to try new beers and wines and mead is kind of an in-between. It’s basically a wine, but not a grape wine, and people associate it with beer and ale – like the precursor to beer.”

* The newly refurbished and expanded Whole Foods store at Ina and Oracle opened August 27th.  Send Darcy ideas for new products at


Pleased to Meet You

-- Download Pleased to Meet You as PDF --

Curtis McCrary, executive director of the Rialto Theatre and its brand new R Bar, talks owls, ’90s commercials and other “worthless shit”. (His words, people, not ours…) Cover photo courtesy of the Arizona Daily Star.

13 CAL CoverCurtis MP-p1

Photo courtesy of the Arizona Daily Star

Early bird or night owl? “Night owl, naturally. First of all, owls are much cooler than other birds, not to mention wiser. Secondly, night is where it’s at. That’s when the interesting stuff happens. There was this crappy commercial from the early ’90s that had a jingle that went “I move better in the night” and that’s always stayed with me, both for its truth but also because I have the uncanny ability to forever remember the most worthless shit.

“It’s pretty much a necessity to be a night owl in this realm of endeavor. There’s a big part of me that craves the regularity of an early-bird schedule, but never so much that I’d trade it.”

Favorite accessory? “I gotta go with a smartphone, or more specifically an iPhone. It’s funny, early on in the life of the iPhone there was lots of rhetoric about how people wanted them so as to be fashionable, trendy, etcetera, which ignored the incredible usefulness of the device. It’s a truly remarkable thing to have an information resource more powerful and useful than the Library of Alexandria at your fingertips at all times. We are the first generation in history with this ability, and along with the internet itself, it’s a game-changer in ways we’ve only barely begun to understand.

iphone “With all that said, I agree that there are downsides to people living a device-mediated existence. There is much merit in being present, and not constantly distracted by the ephemeral goings-on of the virtual world. I am selective about when I give my device attention. It’s how you use it and what you make of it. This is true of all things.”

Favorite faux pas? “Does it make me unimaginative to say that I try to avoid faux pas wherever possible and therefore why would I have a favorite? As a person who is, to put it charitably, easily annoyed, I try to keep my own faux pas to a minimum in an attempt to be considerate of others. So I guess “innocent” ones that only impact the false-stepper and not other people are considerably more tolerable (like, say, someone putting their shirt on inside-out).

“Here’s an example of one I hate, which is not what you asked, but sue me: You’re in traffic, signs announce a lane closure, considerate people get over as soon as possible, but jerks commit the faux pas of thinking that it’s no big deal to zoom up and cut in at the last minute, failing to realize (or care) that that’s why traffic is backing up. Maybe that’s more of a dick move than a faux pas. We should ask Larry David.”

Who is your dream customer? “I guess I don’t dream about customers! Except that nightmare that servers have, and if you’ve ever waited tables, you know this one — you dream you have forgotten a table in your section for an hour, but instead of leaving or getting your attention, they’re just super pissed at you. But I think good customers, patronizing an establishment that they either like or think they might like, should assume good faith on the part of the establishment until they have substantial reason to think otherwise.


Photo by Gillian Drummond

“I think the tendency of people to slag businesses on Yelp or other crowdsourced review sites is rather unfortunate. I believe in voting with your feet when you don’t like a place or have a bad experience. So I guess that means that my “dream customer” is someone who is there because they have an appreciation of what the establishment is, and does, and they patronize your place with regularity, and if they have an issue or a problem, they tell you about it directly.”

If I weren’t executive director of the Rialto Theatre I would… “Honestly, I have no idea. I would more than likely be working in the live music biz in some fashion, but that’s far from a certainty. I’m not sure what else I’m qualified to do that I would find tolerable. It’s not a big list. I have a long-held fantasy about being a helicopter pilot like T.C. from Magnum P.I. (how’s that for a contemporary reference?) but I think at my age that ship has sailed, so to speak.”

If I could change one thing I would… “Yes, absolutely. Or more than one thing, even!”

* When he’s not being cheeky and/or staying up late, Curtis McCrary heads up the historic Rialto Theatre on Congress Street in downtown Tucson, originally a 1920s vaudeville venue and now a live concert spot. This month sees the opening of the Rialto’s spin-off business, R Bar. You can find it around the corner from the theatre on S. Herbert Avenue. 


The R Bar, the Rialto’s spin-off pub, is scheduled to open July 4th. Photo by Gillian Drummond