Film Fe(a)st


Thank you to the producer and director of The House of Good and Evil for their live Q&A session, and to all our readers who chimed in. Blu de Golyer had tales to tell of the involvement of Tippi Hedren, and his own cameo role. Director David Mun, a UA graduate, shared some titillating stuff, and got all nostalgic for Tucson. You can watch a replay of the conversation by clicking here.


The 22nd Arizona International Film Festival hits Tucson this Friday, and the line-up is bigger and buzzier than ever. With so much to choose from, what's a film buff to do? Below we give you not only our top picks, but the scoop on what the filmmakers will be seeing. Plus: Why Hollywood is turning its back on Arizona. By Gillian Drummond.

3 Story's top 3 picks

1. The House of Good and Evil

house of good and evil

Photo courtesy of Shooting Creek Film

The Shining meets Amityville Horror in this psychological thriller about a couple who buy an isolated home in the woods in an effort to save their dying marriage.

Who's behind it: Writer/producer Blu de Golyer, who has 26 screenplays to his name (half as a ghost writer); and director David Mun, a University of Arizona graduate.

Why you should see it: Lots of reasons. It's David's directing debut, and you know how we love to support Tucson talent. Blu and his wife Susan poured their own money into this project. It was shot in Susan's home town of Floyd, Virginia with lots of help and extras support from the locals.

Did you know? Hitchcock protégé Tippi Hedren was supposed to star, but she was called away to promote The Girl, the new movie about Alfred Hitchcock. Two days before they started shooting, Blu and David secured Marietta Marich, star of the 2003 remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Blu's film fest pick: "I'm really excited to see Methhead. It has a lot of topical subjects for right now: drugs, sexuality, social acceptance. I also want to see La Camioneta: The Journey of One American School Bus."


2. Taking Charge: The Pauly Cohen Story


Photo courtesy of Bret Primack

This documentary chronicles Pauly Cohen, once lead trumpeter for the likes of Count Basie, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett, and now - at the age of 90 - leading his own band.

Who's behind it: Jazz writer and video journalist Bret Primack (see our feature in this week's issue).

Why you should see it: Bret has made a name and a huge worldwide following with his You Tube efforts. He's rightly proud of this, his first feature-length film. We're hoping it's one of many to come.

Did you know? Bret set up Pauly's 90th birthday party and reunion that's shown in the film. Disingenuous? Not a bit, says Bret. He needed an event as a hook, so he created one himself.

Bret's film fest pick: "Indian Dreams. I'm looking forward to checking out this journey across India, featuring lots of original music and some unexpected happenings, as most journeys usually offer."


3. Zoom! - Tucson's Late '50s Rock 'n' Roll Record Label

This documentary which began life as a Masters dissertation, looks at the short but exciting life of a Tucson record label formed in 1959.

Dan Kruse900X600

Photo courtesy of Robert Jaime/Arizona Public Media

Who's behind it: Ethnomusicologist and UA graduate Dan Kruse (pictured). You'll recognize his voice from his part-time job as host of All Things Considered on NPR 89.1 FM.

Why you should see it: It will make you smile, and take you back to an era that's missed in this age of social media. Burt Schneider and Ray Lindstrom, the guys behind Zoom Records, had to travel up to Phoenix to record their bands. When it came to recording studios, the Tucson desert was just that - a desert.

Did you know? Technical problems almost prevented Dan from filming his road trip segment, where Burt and Ray are on the road together,  because the crew's wireless mics wouldn't work. "After nearly an hour of fiddling, our DP Bob Demers devised an incredibly ingenious solution on the spot, using a stereo pair of wired mics and snaking the mic cables around the inside of the car and into a tiny audio recorder he happened to have with him. It really saved the day," says Dan.

Dan's film fest pick: "The program of musical shorts on Saturday, April 20. I really enjoy how music can come alive through films of any sort - narrative, music videos, documentaries. And I love the idea of being able to watch a whole series of thematically-connected short films at one sitting."

Sneak preview here.


So long Quentin, Johnny and Seth: why Hollywood is turning its back on us

Filmmakers may be flocking to Tucson for the 22nd Arizona International Film Festival, but ordinarily they go in another direction.

Quentin Tarantino said no to us for Django Unchained. Disney went in another direction for The Lone Ranger, out this summer. We lost out on the chance of being involved with Seth MacFarlane's  new Western, A Million Ways to Die in the West.

django posterAt the same time, film industry technicians are going out of state for work, and film graduates from the University of Arizona are packing their bags for Los Angeles almost as soon as they've matriculated. The reason, say local film industry experts, is a lack of incentives and tax breaks, compared to other states.

"Because Arizona could not offer competitive incentives, they stopped scouting," says Shelli Hall, director of the Tucson Film Office, of the ones that have gotten away from us lately. "We have lost out on many many more. Almost anything that went to New Mexico and Utah these last few years, we would have been in the running for if we had had incentives."

Disney did end up filming for a few days in Monument Valley but, says Shelli, the film crew stayed in Utah to take advantage of their incentives.

The filming of part of The Hangover Part III in Nogales, Arizona last Fall is proof of just what an impact luring movie producers has on the local economy. The film crew's visit to Nogales resulted in $2 million in direct spending, 1,000 hotel room nights and the hiring of five locals to help with film production.

Shelli and others were behind SB1242, a bill that would have created an income tax credit for companies producing films here. Just weeks ago they shelved their efforts, blaming lack of support from the State House and Senate.

"Despite the fact that we have prevailed in every committee and with every floor vote, lack of support from House and Senate leadership has created, and continues to create, an insurmountable obstacle. Given the current political climate, passing SB1242 will be impossible," said Shelli and Mike Kucharo in a statement. Until then, says Shelli, she and others will be exploring other ways to boost an industry that was once a big economic driver here.

Among the arguments against the bill were the fear that other industries would start knocking on Arizona's door asking for similar benefits. But in a state that gave birth to Old Tucson Studios, and featured in movies ranging from Rio Bravo to Wild Wild West, Tin Cup to Three Amigos, Psycho to Thelma & Louise, the frustration among those in the film industry is palpable.

Says Tucson-based filmmaker Scott Barker, hard at work on his latest project, The Z: "There's no question that Hollywood has hopscotched Arizona for New Mexico on projects like 3:10 to Yuma because they can save a chunk of their budget on rebates."

* Don't miss our big film fest giveaway! Tickets to the Arizona International Film Festival's opening night could be yours.

Et Cetera

It's a Film Fe(a)stScreen Shot 2013-04-07 at 2.45.45 PM

For films, schedules and to purchase tickets for the Arizona International Film Festival, click here. Plus see our Film Fe(a)st feature in this issue for filmmaker interviews and more.

All Access Pass: $100; Weekend Pass: $45; Saver Pass: $22; Single admission: $6 to $8.

Tickets are available at: Elliott's on Congress, 135 E Congress (at 6th Avenue); The Screening Room, 127 E Congress; Grand Cinemas Crossroads 6, 4811 E. Grant Road; Desert View Cinema, Saddlebrooke.

Local Architecture Firm DUST - Record House 2013

Screen Shot 2013-04-09 at 11.46.06 PMEach year Architectural Record publishes its "Record Houses" issue - glossy spreads of the best modernist, sustainable design around the world. Among the seven residences chosen for this year's issue is the Tucson desert home designed by Cade Hayes and Jesus Robles, who make up architecture and building firm DUST. For more on the retreat, click here. And for more about Cade's own furniture line, read our feature Wild Mod West.

Photo by Bill Timmerman. Courtesy of DUST.

Centers and Street Corners

“Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door.”  Albert Camus

CENTERS AND STREET CORNERS IMAGE no textFrom the guy who brought us +/-92: Downtown Tucson Master Plans comes and interactive exhibit that tests our notions on centers and street corners.

When: Saturdays in April: 13th, 20th and 27th, 6-9pm
Where: 245 E Congress, in the empty space west of Sparkroot

Cost: Free.

What it's about: The exhibit will ask: Why are street corners so vital to the urban environment? What are the major components involved in creating successful and unsuccessful centers and street corners? Exhibits include "Guess that Intersection" and "Development Dart Game" to name a few.

More info: Contact Bill Mackey, worker, inc., 520.664.4847

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects eligible for People's Choice Award

Sub-Zero-Wolf's 2010-12 Kitchen Design Contest drew over 1,660 entries from designers from around the world. Tucson's Ibarra Rosano Design Architects was one of 54 regional winners. Global winners will be announced May 21st.

To view all finalist's kitchens and vote for the people's choice award, click here(look for the red painting). Voting closes April 30th.

Copy of Yellow Flower Right_B.BrandelTucson Artists' Open Studios

When: Saturday and Sunday, April 13th and 14th, 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

What: Artists open their studios to the public, share their creative process and talk about their work.  Includes demonstrations and works for sale.

More info: Visit for artists and studio locations.

Collage with postage stamps by artist Barbara Brandel


CFB_Header_3Spring fever at Mercado San Agustin

What it is: The first ever Spring Bazaar at Mercado San Agustin

When: Saturday April 13th, 11am -6pm; Sunday April 14th, 11am to 3pm

Where: 100 S Avenida del Convento, just West off I-10 at Congress St.

Details: Shop the bazaar for goods from local vendors and artisans, dine from food trucks and chill to music. Merchants include: Margy’s Jams, Blu a WIne and Cheese Shop, MAST, Buster and Boo Jewelry and knits, Peppermint Jim and more.

More info:

Harry Bertoia: an icon


Photo courtesy of Celia Bertoia and Knoll

Celia Bertoia discusses the work of her father, artist Harry Bertoia (1915-1978), who left an enormous legacy of sculptures and drawings. Harry designed modern chairs for Knoll, crafted over 50 public sculptures, etched hundreds of monoprints, and welded thousands of sculptures. He also tackled delicate jewelry, massive fountains and thunderous gongs. For more information on Harry Bertoia, click here

When: Saturday April 20th, 5pm

Where: 265 S Church Ave‎

Cost: Free for members, $5 non-members


Take a peek at the past

For the first time in a generation, some of Tucson's oldest and most extraordinary homes are opening their doors in a home tour in the Barrio Viejo district. It includes adobe and Sonoran row houses, and comes to us from the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation. For the first time in a generation, some of Tucson's oldest and most extraordinary homes are opening their doors in a home tour in the Barrio Viejo district.

When: April 20th, 2013, 10am-2pm

Tickets: $35 Buy online or at Hotel Congress, Bon, 3022 E. Broadway, and Adobe House Antiques, 2700 N. Campbell.

More info: email [email protected]


 MOCA Local Genius Awards Gala 2013

LGA_2013_logoSouthern Arizonans' most visionary, innovative and globally renowned talents will be honored this Friday with the most recent MOCA Local Genius Awards. Among those receiving an award: Architect Rick Joy, ecologist Dr. Gary Nabhan, and evolutionary biologist Dr. Anna Dornaus.

When: Friday April 12th, 6 PM

Where: Leo Rich Theatre, Tucson Convention Center, 260 South Church Ave.

Wear: Black tie.

More info: Click here.

March property madness

Local real estate agent Brent VanKoevering brings us all the month's property news, including a tight inventory, and 'zombie' foreclosures.

A night at the museum... with architecture

Get your building design fix at these monthly Monday night lectures, presented by the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Architects. Each time there is an internationally renowned architect as a guest speaker. Monday, May 13th: meet Oklahoma City based architect Rand Elliot

When: May 13th, 6 p.m.

Where: Tucson Museum of Art, 150 N. Main Ave.

How much: General admission $10, students free

Details: Food and refreshments available. For more info contact Raquel Padilla at AIA Arizona 602-252-4200 or [email protected]

Pleased to Meet You

Tucson's Museum of Contemporary Art will again honor innovative locals this month with its Local Genius Awards Gala. But what about the genius minds behind MOCA itself? Executive director and chief curator Anne-Marie Russell talks stripes, civics, and the minds of children.


Early bird or night owl? "I don’t know anymore.  My whole life I was up with the sun, and down early (I’m a loser and missed a lot of great bands as a result).  My inability to stay up late also killed my spy career, albeit before it even started.  Recently, the flip switched, like the magnetism of the earth’s poles, upending my world.  I no longer spring awake at dawn with a smile on my face, and I’m often puttering late into the night, unable to sleep.  I miss the magical morning time in the summer, before the heat sets in, so I’m going to work to get up earlier this spring.  But I also seem to need that proverbial eight hours so I’m in a bit of a quandary on this one…"

Favorite accessory? "This makes me think of fashion and crime and other types of 'accessories'.  Fave fashion accessory is a beautiful heavy silver link necklace that was a surprise gift from my fabulous partner. I never want to take it off, so I’ve actually parsed my wardrobe so I can wear it every day and it goes with everything. Also, I possess a staggeringly large collection of French striped sailor shirts, some dating to my childhood. I’ve worn them practically since birth and they are a staple of my wardrobe.  I never met a stripe I didn’t like.

Striped_shirts"As “support helper/partner” version of accessory, without question the MOCA crew, who are simply, individually and collectively, the most fabulous, cool, brilliant, fun and inspiring people imaginable. Together, with them, anything is possible.

"As the 'ancillary to your body' accessory, my least fave, though ubiquitous, accessory is my iPhone, which is sadly glued to my left hand in a way that makes me think of the line “you can have it when you pry it from my cold, dead hand”.   The week it broke was one of the best.   I was forced to do math in my head, look at a map before I left the house, reckon time by the sun, look up words in my OED, and generally remember what it’s like to work my brain.  I will be a late adopter to the Google glasses phenom, for sure."

Favorite faux pas? "Too many to recount, from pratfalls to Freudian slips during lectures to uttering the word 'viscount'. But mixing metaphors is my most common misstep.  Mistakenly combining two well-worn metaphors, I once exclaimed 'That’s gravy on the cake!', which took two things that are great and put them together to make something pretty gross."

Who is your dream customer? "Without question kids are the best 'customers', or in our case visitors/viewers.  They are the most open-minded, most excited to see something they’ve never seen before, most grateful for the experience.  This extends to adults who have managed to maintain a Buddhist 'beginner’s mind' sensibility, to retain their quality of childlike wonder and curiosity, and willingness to be awed and surprised."

If I weren't a museum director I would... "There are so many things I am deeply interested in and passionate about:  science literacy, prison reform, wrongful incarceration of innocents, separation of church and state, keeping creationism out of our public school curricula. If I wasn’t doing this, I’d research, write and advocate about those things."

If I could change one thing I would… "I'd like to make ethics 101 and econ 101 compulsory in all public high school curricula. I think we’d have a better citizenry if we introduced those discursive practices earlier on in life.  'Civics' used to be a thing. Not so much anymore.  And better financial literacy would help us all navigate our complex system. I mean, who even understands what a synthetic derivative is anyway?  And yet it’s one of the reasons so many people have lost their homes to foreclosure.

"I'd also like to see Local Genius Awards held in every community."

* MOCA Tucson's Local Genius Awards Gala, honoring visionary and innovative Tucsonans who make an impact worldwide, takes place April 12th. This year's awardees include architect Rick Joy and ecologist Dr. Gary Nabhan. Visit MOCA at 265 South Church Avenue, or at

Square Feet

Michelle Hotchkiss, real estate agent and mid century fiend, has square feet and a nose for great property. Each issue she brings us her pick of the week.


Photo courtesy of Long Realty


Photo by Ellie Leacock

Where it is: Catalina Vista in midtown Tucson

Listed by: Long Realty

The damage: $299,500

You'll love it because: This old school, Spanish Eclectic type of home is in a neighborhood developed in the 1940s to put a different spin on midcentury neighborhoods: curved streets instead of straight ones, single-story homes to ensure mountain views, and landscaped medians and traffic roundabouts.

Here comes the but: This 1542 sq ft home is only a large 2-bedroom.  The room that could serve as a third bedroom is a detached 200 sq ft studio.

Read more about Michelle, a RE/MAX Catalina Foothill Realty agent, at Atomic Tucson.


Photo courtesy of Long Realty


Photo courtesy of Long Realty







Diary of a constant gardener

When the Tucson Botanical Gardens held a three-day landscaping competition recently, the heat was on for four designers to make a small space beautiful - and quickly. Here, People's Choice winner Scott Calhoun dishes the dirt on his Growdown! experience.

Tucson Botanical Gardens Growdown! Process Photos

I'd always avoided entering garden design competitions. It seemed to me that gardens made on a short timeline were usually flimsy, trendy, and exuded a made-for-reality-TV-quality as strong as a whiff of Ty Pennington’s cologne.

Still, I had to admit that some of the display gardens built for competitions were creative and interesting: the San Francisco Flower Show, Seattle's Northwest Flower and Garden Show, and the Philadelphia Garden Show all feature ambitious horticulture and garden design elements. At the San Francisco show I once watched a designer recreate a Baja, Mexico beach-themed garden complete with blooming native wildflowers and palms, and a surfboard-laden VW van. It was novel, and maybe a bit trendy, but it was done to excellent effect.


In the desert Southwest, the serious garden show scene has been non-existent. We've had home-show-style events featuring booths with spas, barbeque grills, and masonry products, with vendors selling chamois cloth and non-stick cookware. But for anyone interested in arid land horticulture, native plants, or desert-appropriate landscape structures, there hasn’t been much to see.

So when I heard that Tucson Botanical Gardens was sponsoring a garden design competition called Growdown! - designers going trowel to trowel to come up with the best small garden space in Tucson - I jumped at the chance. Why?

  1. The gardens would be built outdoors in a vacant corner of TBG.
  2. They were the sort of small dimensions that I loved to work with: 15’ x 20’.
  3. The display gardens we would design and build would stay in place for over two months.
  4. We could do whatever we wanted to.
  5. Nobody would be hawking non-stick cookware in the vicinity.

Other aspects of the competition weren’t so enticing. The garden had to be completely constructed over three days (with a strict eight hours per day). The designers selected would only receive a modest $1500 stipend for the entire project. And, sometime in May, we’d have to tear everything out.

January 4th: Growdown! Application Due

My application was based on a color theme, and featured photos of a Nogales, Sonora city bus, a storefront Viagra advertisement, and a fan deck of Mexican license plates. As divergent as they were, all of my photo examples emphasized the use of color in the garden in a style based on cross-border panache.

Tucson Botanical Gardens Growdown! Zona Gardens finished space

January 18th: Let the Obsession Begin

Growdown!PlansAt 7:58 in the evening, I got the email saying that our design had been chosen. From that moment on, I was all in. When I’m in the thick of designing a garden, it’s all I can think about. As my Growdown! garden began to take shape on paper, the lines of its curvilinear pathway, the teal and orange colors of its walls all circulated in my head  day and night like a lover’s whispers. Unable to sleep for many nights in a row, I woke at 3:00am to draw sketches and make plant lists.

January 29th: Heavy Metal & Buddy the Dog

Growdown!BuddyTo give the Growdown! garden a real sense of enclosure, it needed a steel perimeter to serve as walls, and a 205-pound steel chiminea/grill. My go-to steel man, Chris Drake of Drake Built Projects, would have to make all of these components ahead of time in his shop. Chris is built like a linebacker and operates his business out of a garage and yard with a partially assembled VW Baja Bug, a race-ready Honda desert motorcycle, and a giant mastiff mix named Buddy. We wanted the steel pieces to have a nice orange rust color, so Chris sprayed them with an acid to speed the process. Buddy helped by urinating on every piece of steel within pissing distance which, curiously, worked faster than the acid.

January 28th: Meeting the other Growdown! Designers

At an afternoon meeting, I met the other designers: Christine Jeffreys, an extreme athlete (she competes in Xterra races) who attended ASU on a full swimming scholarship while getting a master’s degree in landscape architecture; Phil and Janice Van Wyck, a husband and wife duo with many years of design experience and a book of work that included projects in Tucson Botanical Gardens; and Ezra Roati, of REALM, one of the most visible residential landscape contracting firms in Tucson with a fleet of branded trucks and equipment. It looked like stiff competition.

January 31st: Thrown, Fired & Glazed

Growdown!PotteryThe steel work I’d designed had so many pot shelves that I needed pots. I had originally thought I might be able to get away with some cheap teal plastic pots from Target, but as the design evolved, I knew that what the space really called for was something custom, handcrafted, and unique. Local clay artist Debra Raeber came to my rescue. She taped up all of the drawings of our design to the wall of her studio, and hand threw, fired, and glazed 39 teal and orange pots designed specifically to match the style and color of our garden.

February 6th: Fifty Shades of Silver

Growdown!50Because I love plants and believe that they matter a lot in garden design, my designs tend to be plant-driven. The size of the space, the exposure, the color theme - all of these determine which plants make the cut. Since the hardscape elements of my garden were walls of orange and teal, I made a decision early on to select only plants with silver and gray foliage. Fifty shades of silver wasn’t a new geriatric version of the popular erotic novel, it was my mantra for choosing my plant palette.

Growdown!PeteyThe centerpiece was big beaked yucca (Yucca rostrata), native to the Chihuahuan desert and tall, handsome with silver-blue leaves and a mop head. It was donated by Mountain States Wholesale Nursery.

At Civano Nursery, I found a group of dwarf silver slippers, and at Desert Survivors Jim Verrier pointed me toward Sonoran Everlasting, a handsome silver weed with leaves that smell like lemons. Mark Sitter at B & B Cactus Farm contributed some  blue pearl bush and Greg Starr chipped in three handsome silver mescal ceniza agaves (Agave colorata). Marc White, of Casa Blanca, contributed silver hedgehogs, and trio of white-flecked Astrophytum. At Mesquite Valley growers, I found some trailing silver fishhook (a succulent) and other plants to fill a steel flower box. The result? A silver collection that shimmered in the sun.

Growdown!CivanoMarch 20th: Load-in Day

Early in the morning, Chris Drake arrived with a truckload of beautiful rusted steel panels. The largest two panels were exceeding heavy, and I remarked that they “had hernia written all over them,” but we moved them without incident. The videographer hired to shoot the event showed up and got some footage of Chris and I joking about avoiding plumber’s crack in the video. Chris was threatening to wear an orange thong. My team's 'uniform' was t-shirts I had printed with “Equipo Growdown!” on the back. The morning of load-in, we had our steel, gravel, and plants ready to go.


March 21st, Day One: Generators, Jackhammers & Africanized Bees


Our landscape contractor, Marc White of Casa Blanca, got held up and Chris Drake and I were on the job without an essential Tucson gardening tool: the Mikata electric jackhammer. We began digging postholes with 17 pound steel digging bars, also known as death sticks because of how you feel after using them. Midmorning, someone poked their head over the wall and warned us of a swarm of bees on the other side. We reported this to garden staff, and kept working. At the end of the day, our back wall was orange, we had mixed and poured 1600 pounds of concrete, placed our circular steel planter complete with beaked yucca, and placed five of our steel partition walls. Our steel edging was also installed. I explained to Jesus that the curve and constriction of the pathway should resemble the contour of a woman’s hip and the small of her back, a concept he seemed to execute intuitively. As a bonus that first day, we experienced zero bee attacks and zero plumber’s crack complaints.


March 22nd, Day Two: Planting, Irrigation, and Sonoran Hot Dogs

Tucson Botanical Gardens Growdown! Process Photos Zona Gardens, Scott CalhounEarly on, we made a decision to not take any shortcuts in our Growdown! space. We would build this garden exactly how we would build a client’s garden. We had a real two-zone drip irrigation system, complete with copper backflow assembly and a timer.

As Chris Drake finished welding on pot shelves, we began planting. By midday, my wife Deirdre and I had our “roof”--a panel of reed-mat shade suspended overhead by steel cables—installed, and it cast a dappled shade. Deirdre brought Mexican hot dogs for lunch, which we consumed with gusto.


Growdown!EndDayTwo 2

March 23rd, Day Three: Pots, Erotic Drilling, and Mexican Plates

Growdown!LastDayThe final day was mostly finishing touches. Up went nine expired Sonora Mexico license plates to our steel wall panels, and 39 pots from Debra Raeber on shelves and on the walls. The pots, planted with silver plants weeks before, gave the garden a feeling of instant maturity.

There were a few last construction tasks. Chris Drake was working with a drill to attach a waist level planter box to the back wall. Never one to avoid innuendo, Chris announced, “those of you with pacemakers look away now” as he proceeded to bore anchor holes by thrusting his hips toward the wall in time with the revving of his drill. Deirdre and Amy arrived with a truck of furnishings, including two Mexican concha chairs to complete the look. By one in the afternoon, it all looked complete. It felt like a garden. We sat down in the chairs and we didn’t get up until sundown.

March 24th: The Judging

On our right, Ezra Roati built a garden with an urban rainwater feature and veggie beds; on our left, Christine Jeffreys erected a garden beneath a big shade sail; across the way, Phil and Janice Van Wyck built what looked to me like a desert Japanese tea house (below) complete with a butterfly roof. Phil and Janice received the Judges Award, and we came away with the People’s Choice.

Tucson Botanical Gardens Growdown! Zona Gardens Process Photos

Phil and Janice Van Wyck's winning garden

In the end, I was proud of our teamwork, and a little in love with the garden we created. In the 20-odd days since the competition ended, I’ve found that I can’t drive by Tucson Botanical Gardens without stopping to sit, to deadhead, and to take photos. I’ve begun taking tilt-shift, or miniature effect photos, of the garden, because in some ways, that is what the garden is. In those images, the garden appears like a railroad diorama of everything I love about gardens. Other than writing a book, I’ve never had a single creative pursuit so completely take over my life. For several reasons, I’m not looking forward to removing this little garden that is bent on color, forged of steel, and bristling with desert plants.

Tucson Botanical Gardens Growdown! Process Photos

* Scott Calhoun, owner of Zona Gardens in Tucson, is the author and photographer of six books on the American Southwest. He has had his work featured in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and writes a monthly column for Sunset magazine. Find out more at

Jazz Guy Bret Primack

He cut his teeth on jazz and films. Now writer and video journalist is combining the two with his first feature-length film, premiering at the Arizona International Film Festival. By Gillian Drummond. Cover art by Bret Primack.

%Jazz guy bret primack

Jazz guy Bret Primack

It's all the fault of Louis Armstrong. That's how Bret Primack's jazz itch started, and he hasn't stopped scratching it since.

Bret was about ten years old when he first spotted the jazz great on TV at his home in West Hartford, Connecticut. The film The Five Pennies, with Louis and Danny Kaye, became a favorite. Then Bret began playing the trumpet. And soon his house was echoing to the sound of jazz music. As a teenager, he would take the train down to New York City to hit the jazz clubs, indulging a love that would not only stick with him, but dictate his career, and his life.

Bret's father told him not to. He did his best to discourage his son from the world of music. As a semi-professional piano player and a back-up musician for the likes of Bob Hope, he had seen too much of the down side of the music biz. But for Bret, the itch wouldn't go away.

Jazz even trumped his other passion - film. Bret studied at New York University's Film School (Martin Scorsese was an instructor) but became a jazz music journalist.

The man is a trailblazer in more ways than one. He was an Internet follower and Apple computer user before most people had heard of either. He helped launch the website Jazz Central Station, and started the first jazz blog, Bird Lives, where he wrote outspokenly under the pseudonym The Pariah. (Once his identity was revealed, he stopped). Then along came You Tube and a chance for him to return to film-making without major expense nor major budgets.


Pauly Cohen and Bret Primack

He bought a cheap video camera, taught himself computer-aided editing, and made mini documentaries about jazz musicians. His You Tube channel Jazz Video Guy has attracted more than 30,000 subscribers on You Tube, and racked up almost 27 million views.

But as much as the Internet and new technology have been good to him, Bret is frustrated by it. He can track the time people spend watching his short video films, and many of them aren't reaching the end of them, he says. They're multitasking and getting lured away by other video teasers on the screen. "There are too many distractions. I have an audience of very temporary viewers, and I don't like that. I spend a lot of time producing my work."

Hence the decision to go back to his film school roots. The result is Taking Charge: the Pauly Cohen story, about the life and continued good times of jazz trumpeter Pauly Cohen.

Bret is a man who straddles a golden era and the 21st Century. He is nostalgic for the jazz greats and their era of road trips, struggles and, in turn, rich stories. Yet his Tucson home and his life are all about the new: Netflix and You Tube, Facebook and Twitter, and anything made by Apple beginning with an 'i'. Similarly, while he gets excited about new music and film (a current listening favorite is Scottish singer Emili Sande), he favors old greats like Fellini, Kubrick and Sonny Rollins, one of his personal friends.


Bret Primack

Bret is torn about Tucson too, a place he would visit from Manhattan in the winter during the 1990's, eventually settling for good. "I love the vibration, I love the desert and the pace of life. But culturally it's a huge drop-off." If he had enough money he says he'd move back to Manhattan in a New York minute.

As for the future, Bret would love to make a comedy film. He is a co-founder of Axial Theatre, and has play-writing under his belt already. Right now he's fascinated by a 1982 Godrey Reggio film called Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance, one with no dialogue and music by Philip Glass. "I'm interested in finding new ways to tell stories," he says.

As for the push-pull of the Internet, he believes there's time still to lure viewers back into more long-form films: "Once TV and the Internet converge, people are going to watch films on big TVs. Then they'll have a better attention span. I give it three to five years."

* Read more more on the film festival, including Bret's own pick of the fest and our big ticket giveaway, here. 


Don't Sugar Coat, Powder Coat

 You know it from the auto industry and industrial manufacturing. But powder coat is finding new markets in interior and furniture design. By Madeleine Boos.

powder coat barrarosano

Powder coated steel counter-top. Photo by Bill Timmerman.
Courtesy of Ibarra Rosano Design Architects.

When the economy tanked, an interesting thing happened at North American Powder Coating and Sand Blasting in Tucson. Owner Mark Bargar saw his business take off.

Instead of replacing old worn items, the public's thoughts turned to restoration and revival. “People started bringing me their gates, outdoor furniture, trellises, fencing etc, to be cleaned and powder-coated for a new life,” says Mark, who has applied powder coat on everything from motorcycle and airplane parts to the steel sculptures of Tucson artist Steven Derks.

 Where to powder coat

Powder coating, once solely the domain of the automotive industry and industrial manufacturing, is not only going mainstream, it's being viewed as a durable, affordable and planet-friendly finish. Powder-coated steel has been around since the 1960s (think Mad Men with its iconic Knoll metal office furniture). But it’s only within the last few years that it has made its way into the vocabulary of the mainstream.

The shiny colored metal surfaces once relegated to refrigerator doors and bike frames are showing up as sleek counter-tops, suspended wall shelving units and modern furniture. Whether you’re shopping for an affordable mid-century style pedestal table at CB2, or outdoor furniture for thousands of dollars from DWR, most likely that pristine finish is powder coated - not just painted - and made to last.

Any metal that can withstand 400 degrees Fahrenheit can be powder coated. Plus, due to technological advances in application and curing methods, powder coating can be used on substrates such as MDF (medium density fiberboard). Whereas laminate has been the go-to surface material for MDF, powder coating creates a seamless, durable surface that protects the wood from chips, spills and stains.

powder coat falora shelves

Sleek open shelving at Falora. Photo by Liam Frederick. Courtesy of repp + mclain design and construction

powder coat

"B" at work in the spray booth
Photo by Madeleine Boos

Powder Coat: What is it?

The powder itself is a mixture of pigment and resin, electrostatically applied (sprayed) as a free-flowing dry powder on to a metal or aluminum surface, and then cured in an oven to form a durable smooth skin. The coating protects the piece from the exterior elements, scratching, rusting and corrosion.

The item is disassembled for complete coverage, and the parts are hung from a steel rack to be sprayed. Once sprayed the rack is wheeled into the oven for curing. Once the item reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit, it cures (bakes) for 15-25 minutes. The good news is you can't over-bake it, but under-curing produces an inferior finish.

Set up is key. A well prepped surface, free of grime and grease and a clean shop make for the best outcome.

It's loved for a few reasons:

* "Price for powder coating is based on size, weight and thickness of item, surface condition (does it need sandblasting first?), and whether or not it's a custom color. A patio chair may run you $68-$125. Turn-around time is typically 7 - 10 business days," says Mark Bargar of North American Powder Coating and Sand Blasting.

* Counter-top fabrication and installation runs $25 - $30 per square foot installed - on par with basic laminate surfaces, and less than half what a homeowner would pay for solid surface or natural stone.

* It's durable, resistant to chipping, scratching, fading and wearing.

* There are hundreds (thousands from some sources) of available colors, and a wide range of specialty effects, such as high/low gloss, texture, and clear.

* It emits zero or near-zero VOCs (volatile organic compounds), making it eco-friendly and non-toxic.

* It produces thicker and stronger coatings than conventional painted finishes.

* Overspray can be recycled, which means zero waste.

* It's consistent and uniform in appearance.

* Powder coating gives new life to worn household metal products, such as gates, patio furniture and thrift store finds.

*and's sleek.


Photo by Liam Frederick. Courtesy of Rick McLain

Architect Rick McLain, partner in the newly renamed firm of repp + mclain design and construction, has used powder coated steel in projects for clients, as well as in his own home.

At Falora, Ari Shapiro's restaurant concept in midtown Tucson, the design team used powder coated white steel as a modern interpretation of traditional Italian marble slabs. Better yet, the thin floating material gave the interior a minimalist vibe. For more on Falora, see 3Story’s feature here.

At home, Rick and his wife opted for powder-coated steel counter-tops in the guest bath. This industrial product requires no maintenance, no special cleaning instructions.

Ibarra Rosano Design Architects chose powder coated steel as a way to customize an IKEA bathroom. Pairing IKEA cabinets and plumbing fixtures with the glossy surface gave a tight budget project a high-end look. That and having a skilled designer bring it together in the details.

Industrial and interior designer Cipriana Salazar has powder-coated household items as small as decorative hardware and signs, and worked her way up to small and large furniture. Limited only by the size of her curing oven. The bigger the oven, the larger the pieces.

She started with her own $99 powder coating gun in a corner of her garage and a second-hand oven.

“One important aspect is that it is not out of the realm of the hobbyist who is looking to do small scale parts. Powder coat guns are cheap and a Craigslist oven can get you started,” says Cipriana.

Since then she's upgraded the size of her set-up. Though most of her time is dedicated to her own creative work, she does offer services to folks in need of powder coated bicycle frames, cabinet hardware, specialty items and the like.

Bike frames are $100-125. Chairs $65-90. Chair bases $30-55. Cabinet hardware, such as pulls and knobs $50-75. The prices on the lower end are for raw metal or already prepped items.


Cipriana Salazar's refurbished IKEA dining table and chairs
Photo by Gillian Drummond

Powder coating played a large role in Cipriana's re-design and transformation of a salvaged steel medical cabinet and ubiquitous IKEA dining set. The result? An artful and modern dining ensemble.


Photo by Gillian Drummond

But to achieve a successful powder coat finish, you may not want to try this at home after all. We say, consult an expert.

*Cipriana Salazar can be reached at [email protected]

North American Powder Coating and Sandblasting 1131 W. Grant Road, suite 107 Tucson, AZ 85705 520-622-5640

* For more information on powder coating and powder-coated steel, see the Powder Coating Institute and Sundial Powder Coating.


Hitting the bottle

A new Tucson business is giving a whole new meaning to bottle recycling - by turning empty booze bottles into drinking glasses. By Samantha Cummings.


Photo courtesy of Bottle Rocket

Anita Goodrich’s competitive nature was her ticket into the art scene. When a friend asked her if she could cut a beer bottle 3 years ago, she couldn’t refuse the challenge. After perfecting the craft, Anita and her life partner, Stephanie Pederson, are now learning how to balance two other careers, raise a family and keep up with the demand of their booming business, Bottle Rocket glassware.

The sound of the knife etching a line into the empty Grey Goose vodka bottle is reminiscent of nails on a chalkboard. This is the first step Anita Goodrich takes when creating one of her signature rock glasses. In a recycling spin that brings things full circle, Bottle Rocket turns bottles that once contained beer, vodka and whiskey into drinks containers once more.

The couple knew their recycled bottle glasses would be a hit after selling the first batch in their friend’s store, Pop-Cycle, which houses the work of local artists using re-purposed materials. The boutique’s co-owner, DeeDee Koenen, is actually the same friend that challenged Goodrich in the first place.


Anita Goodrich and Stephanie Pederson with son Gavin
Photo by Samantha Cummings

“Instantaneously, they were sold like that,” Anita says, snapping her fingers.

Stephanie, a special education teacher at Secrist Middle School, contributes to the more artistic aspect of the business.

“I don’t want to know about the cutting too much. I don’t want to be outside in the middle of the summer. I’m like, I’ll make some lampshades,” she laughs.

So, while Stephanie leaves Anita to do the dirty work, she is busy brainstorming other ways to re-purpose the eye-catching bottles - like using them as lamps.

With a square-shaped Jack Daniel’s bottle as the base, Stephanie explains how she unleashes her creativity with the shades as she and Anita sip on a couple of imported beers at Time Market.

“I’ve been doing lampshades out of maps and out of books. I’ve done some out of T-shirt material, which is kind of fun. It hasn’t sold yet,” she laughs.


Photo provided by Bottle Rocket

For the holidays, the couple created what they call chimneys – little candle tea lights made from the tops of Grey Goose bottles. When the candle is place underneath, the smoke exits the neck of the bottle, creating a chimney-like effect.

“Actually, it’s the first thing I’ve done that Gavin really likes. Score, I made my son happy!” says Anita.

Gavin, who is six and a half years old (he is really enthusiastic on clarifying the 'half' part), attends Borton Elementary School. When he isn’t swimming or playing with his neighbors, he is quite the Bottle Rocket promoter. He even has his own slogan: “There are bottles! And glasses! And we make bells!”

Anita and Stephanie met 12 years ago at a coffee shop on the University of Arizona campus, where they both worked. Today, they're combining each of their talents to take Bottle Rocket to the next level.

They have wine bottles to choose from for days, but the Grey Goose bottles seem to be a rare commodity.

“We can’t get enough people to drink Grey Goose,” Stephanie says jokingly.


Photo by Samantha Cummings

Back at the couples quaint home, located between “A” Mountain and Tumamoc Hill, the perfect size for the family of three, a pile of bottles are patiently waiting to be given new life as they sit underneath a tree in the backyard.

Anita grabs the empty Grey Goose bottle from the Mecca of recycled bottles she has collected from local bars and restaurants, such as The Surly Wench, Mercado San Agustin, and Kingfisher.


Photo by Samantha Cummings

To the right of the tree stands a massive blue tarp that shades Anita from the beaming rays of Arizona’s relentless sun as she stands at her homemade wooden work bench, which is covered with bottles next in line, glasses that didn’t make the cut, and others awaiting their finishing touches.

It’s safe to say that Bottle Rocket has taken over the entire backyard living space. Besides a sandbox that houses all of Gavin’s toy trucks and shovels, empty bottles have claimed the remaining territory.

Its definitely organized chaos at it’s finest.

After scoring a perfect line around the circumference of the bottle with a diamond bit glass cutter, she places the bottle on a rotating sphere that spins as she simultaneously heats the line with the blue flame of a blow torch, creating a fracture. “The hope is that it doesn’t stray from your score line, so that it’s very clean,” says Anita.

With both hands, she grabs either end of the bottle and gently twists, anxious to see if the bottle decided to cooperate. The bottle makes a popping sound and splits into two. Relieved to see a smooth edge, Anita lifts the bandana that hangs around her neck to cover her mouth and nose, and begins to grind the glass’ sharp edges.

Once all the edges are polished and smoothed, the process is complete.

It isn’t surprising that Anita is in charge of Bottle Rocket’s dirty work. When she isn’t getting dirty cutting glass, she’s doing anything from tiling a bathroom to building a deck as part of her home improvement business.


Photo by Samantha Cummings

After the glass leaves Anita’s hands, it’s passed onto Stephanie, who etches a variety of designs onto the faces of the bare bottles. The glasses that undergo this process are usually the beer bottles that are stripped of their original paper labels or shot glasses made from champagne bottles.

Stephanie creates her stencils from vinyl with designs ranging from animals – such as an elephant, sparrow, stag, and an owl – to skulls and University of Arizona symbols. Next, she applies an etching cream on top of the stencil and lets it dry. Once the vinyl is removed, the etched design is complete.

Drinking glasses are their specialty, but the couple is constantly brainstorming new and ingenious ways to give these bottles a second chance at life. Metal balls are attached to the insides of vintage Sprite and Coke tops to create a bell. The round corks of Patron bottles are removed and replaced with wicks to create an oil lamp. And the spouts of wine bottles are cut and re-purposed as door pulls for kitchen cabinets.


Photo provided by Bottle Rocket

There are more ideas in the works, and the couple plans to get on to But they're still in such early stages, they don't even have a website. “We talk about getting a website. With our family and my day job of teaching, sometimes it’s hard to do the fair aspect because it’s so much investment and so much traveling. But, I think that we are trying to manage growth and creative exploration,” says Stephanie.

Currently, you can find Bottle Rocket favorites in Pop-Cycle on 4th Avenue; Adelante, located in Cave Creek; and several shops in California.

Anita and Stephanie down the last sips of their imported beer. Instead of throwing away the bottles, they are placed among the belongings the couple came with.  “These are coming with us,” says Anita.

Video by Samantha Cummings

* Prices: rocks glass, $12; wine bottle glass, $22; beer glass, $6; Coke bottle, $6; shot glass, $8; bell, $10; Patron oil lamp, $16.95; 'chimney', $20.

* Find Bottle Rocket at Pop-Cycle, 422 N. 4th Avenue, Tucson. Tel: 520-622-3297.

For special orders or requests, contact Anita at (520) 548-8757 or [email protected]