Beware of Kooky Artist

From metal art to greeting cards, voodoo dolls to stand-up comedy, artist Ryn Gargulinski is an industry unto herself.

ryn gargulinski

Ryn Gargulinski. Photo by Gillian Drummond

Ryn Gargulinski is trying to give up smoking. She pulls on one of these electronic cigarettes, exhales, and laughs heartily - and throatily.

Her laugh is loud and infectious. She tosses her head back. Her dogs, Sawyer and Phoebe, bark. The dog art almost barks as well.

She's surrounded by her art - on the back patio of her home, in the garden. It's lying unfinished on the table and hanging finished from trees and stuck into the ground. Her pieces say things like 'Beware of Cat',  'Beware of Jerks' and 'We love you now go away'.

beware of cat

Photo by Gillian Drummond

They're cut from large sheets of metal with electric shears, regular shears, and a Dremel tool to file the edges. Then they're spray-painted bright colors, and cartoon-like teeth and eyes are added. Most of them are missing noses.

"I just know I like big eyes and big teeth and I'm not fond of noses," says Ryn.

She also likes voodoo dolls, yoga, dogs, writing, camping (although only recently), and people.

The love of writing led her towards high school journalism in Troy, Michigan, where "I always stood out as weird. I didn't meet any people other than white Roman Catholics". It led her to journalist jobs, freelancing in New York City and a couple of senior jobs on local newspapers, in New Mexico, California and Oregon.

ryn gargulinski

Favorite Quote Magnets: set of four magnets with the Four Agreements.
Photo courtesy of ryndustries

And finally she reached Tucson. "It rained in Oregon and I'm prone to depression so you can't put me in a rainy climate. I said 'I'm going to go somewhere where it doesn't rain'."

That was in 2006. After a stint on the Tucson Citizen, she was forced to go freelance again in 2009 when the print version of the newspaper closed. And that's when Ryn stepped things up.

By then she had a mortgage to pay, so she sought as much writing, art, book and illustration commissions as she could. She's tried her hand at greetings cards, tattoos and ad copy, and has a regular column in Tucson Weekly. She's an industry unto herself - in her own words, "Ryndustries". She's even dabbled in stand-up comedy, something that won't surprise anybody who's met her.

"That's the most terrifying thing I've ever done in my life," say the sometime performer at Laffs comedy club. Her comedy act poked fun at herself and the "messed-up stuff in my life. While dark and brooding is a big part of me, it doesn't really get much laughs."

ryn gargulinski

The artist's home.
Photo by Gillian Drummond

She's engaging, fun, opinionated, articulate, and easily bored - mercurial and true to her Gemini star sign.

And while she certainly belongs more in Tucson than Troy, Michigan, it's safe to say she does not belong in the new-build subdivision she lives in, a place where every tan-colored stuccoed home looks almost exactly the same.

"I hate it," she shrugs. "I'm always getting in trouble with the Homeowners' Association." But she does like Tucson and its "seedy charm". And, taking full advantage of the fact that HOA regulations don't extend to interiors or back yards, she has put her own stamp on both.

Her living room boasts giraffe-like stamps all over the ceiling, a lot of animal prints, and ornaments that include painted skulls, a gargoyle, and  fabric galore, and a lava lamp. The back patio is artist studio meets gallery meets junk yard. Gerson's, Tucson's south side salvage yard, is one of her favorite places.

"I've always been a garbage picker," she says. But whereas it was lucrative in New York, where one person's trash was literally another's treasure, in Tucson it's different. "They actually throw out garbage. So I decided to take the garbage and make it into something nice."

ryn gargulinski

Custom portraits of family, friends, kids or pets.
Photo courtesy of ryndustries

And although Ryn's own art appears cartoon-happy, she thrives on having that dark side. Her first art related memory is of drawing a cartoon of Snoopy on her parents' garage walls and getting yelled at. "That was when I knew the artist's life was full of pain."

While at college as an English major in New York, she "fell in love with folklore", becoming fascinated with hearing people's stories. She turned that interest into her thesis, spending around two years interviewing subway workers and cataloging their stories - including the suicides they witnessed.

"Rynski's Artski", as she calls it, could be set for an exciting year. Ryn is entering the licensing and wholesale market, working with an agent to take over the world, "or at least big chunks of the nation". She just started supplying a pet boutique in Cape Cod, and has had requests for her metal work from Australia.


Photo by Gillian Drummond


The most popular of her signs? Beware of Dog. "I want second place to go to Beware of Puking Cat signs," she says. "But although people love the idea, they don't seem to love the idea of a metal puking cat hanging in their home or yard. For some reason, though, folks seem to dig the Beware of Ugly fish sign..."

yoga half-moon

From Bony Yoga by Ryn Gargulinski.
Photo courtesy of ryndustries

* You can find Ryn's work at Popcycle and Antigone Books in Tucson, and online at Etsy and ryndustries.










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.

CA1 2

Photo courtesy of Long Realty


Photo by Ellie Leacock

Where it is: Skyline Bel Air Estates

Listed by: Long Realty

The damage: $525,000

You'll love it because: If you need a large family home that's been handsomely updated, this one has generous sized rooms and I love the makeovers in the kitchen and baths.  I'd put this on a tour of "tasteful" remodels. Bonus: this is one of my favorite classic mid century neighborhoods of Tucson and it is walking distance to the enchanting DeGrazia Gallery on Swan Road.

Here comes the but: No city light views; the property sits in a dip off a ridge.  Also two larger and more amazing mid century modern homes just sold in there at prices per square foot that put this one off the mark, and in my opinion, overpriced.

sq ft bathroom 2.18

Photo courtesy of Long Realty


sq ft pool shot 2.18

Photo courtesy of Long Realty

Photo courtesy of Long Realty

Photo courtesy of Long Realty

Find more of Michelle’s property picks at Atomic Tucson

My Space

In the latest in our series on people's favorite spaces, we talk to wardrobe consultant Monica Negri about new starts, discovered art, and the vintage chair that almost got away.

Monica Negri's vintage chair. Photo by Gillian Drummond

Monica Negri's vintage chair. Photo by Gillian Drummond

"We had been living in an 800 sq ft cottage in Palo Alto. We lived there almost 20 years. It was a rent control situation, and every time we looked at properties to buy in California, they were outside of our price range.

"I used to own a consignment store there, and my husband and I visited Phoenix and Tucson to shop some vintage stores. Every time I came here I loved the way it felt. It's so warm and sunny, I never felt closed in. There was no heating in the house we rented. It was dark and cold, with a canopy of oak trees outside.

"So we bought a condo in Tucson as a getaway. Eventually I said ' I want to move, I want to start my life over'. We're both risk takers. We said 'Let's go for it' and we moved to Tucson five years ago and both changed careers. This is the very first house we've owned.

"In Palo Alto our whole house was circa 1950s. I said 'You know what, let's just get rid of everything and start over'. I had bought this Hans Wegner chair for $800 in Redwood City. It's called a Papa Bear chair because of its shape. They go for anything from $2000 to $3000. I put the chair up for sale and people were haggling with me over the price, until eventually I said 'It's not for sale any more'.

"I found some fabric and got it reupholstered. Then I bought a replica Hans Wegner ottoman to go with it. My husband and I sit in the chair and watch TV, and my two dogs like sitting in it too. We're not fussy that way. Furniture is there to be used.

"The painting on the wall is by Bay Area artist Michele Katen. I was the first one to buy one of her paintings, and I have several of them.  There is nothing more exciting then seeing joy in the buyer and seller simultaneously.  I feel that is what happened with me and Michele.


Photo by Gillian Drummond

"The Papa Bear chair ended up being the only piece of furniture we brought with us. I have some regrets about some of the things I sold, like some 1930's mannequins with cages, and a 1940's mannequin head made out of papier mache. I called her Natasha. Another antique dealer who had wanted this head, she bought it from me. I do regret that. I literally lost my head."

Monica Negri offers style and wardrobe consultation and personal shopping services through her company Ten Outfits. She also writes a blog.

Et Cetera

margaret suchland

Marking Time n.12, mixed media encaustic painting by artist Margaret Suchland

Here's the buzz

No fewer than 18 artists will display their work March and April for the eighth annual Encaustic Invitational, a celebration of the ancient art using melted beeswax.

Stop in at Conrad Wilde Gallery, 439 N. 6th Avenue, March 2th to April 27th, to view the works of artists such as Margaret Suchland (pictured above). Opening reception Saturday March 2nd 6-9 PM. Call (520) 622-8997 for gallery hours. For a full story see our next issue, March 11.

FOB-UAMC Logo Rev 2Bookworms unite

Photo courtesy of James S. Wood Photography for the Tucson Festival of Books

Author Diana Gabaldon. Photo courtesy of James S. Wood Photography for the Tucson Festival of Books

The Tucson Festival of Books is here again, March 9-10.Get set to mingle with more than 100,000 other book lovers at exhibits, presentations and panel discussions in and around the UA Mall.

This year's visiting authors include Ted Danson, Tucson's own Beth Alvarado, Diana Gabaldon, Larry McMurtry and Thomas Cobb (Crazy Heart). Admission is free, and net proceeds go to fund literacy programs in Southern Arizona. More at

Screen Shot 2013-02-18 at 6.52.42 PM

Architecture a la carte


1022 Natoma Street San Francisco, CA
Photo courtesy of Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc.
Photo by Richard Barnes

Keep your Mondays open for a monthly lecture series from the Southern Arizona Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Held at 6pm at the Tucson Museum of Art, the series features talks by internationally renowned architects from around the country. General admission $10, students free.

Next lecture is Monday March 11th by San Francisco based architect Stanley Saitowitz.

Food and refreshments will be available. too. The TMA is at 150 N. Main Ave. Tel: 520 628 8533.

For more info contact Raquel Padilla at AIA Arizona 602-252-4200 or [email protected] Steve McDowell April 8th and Rand Elliott May 13th.

Why Michelle O loves Tucson

The First Lady has just designated Tucson a Preserve America Community. No, it doesn't mean we all go out and make jam. It means that all the historic preservation efforts from the likes of the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation and the Drachman Institute are being formally recognized.

Preserve America is a federal effort to encourage community efforts to preserve the country's cultural and natural heritage. In Tucson, last year's very first Modernism Week was just one example of that.

If you missed Mod Week (and shame on you if you did), then check out this nifty little film by local videographer Garry Gassel.

And why everyone else loves it too...

As if we didn't already know that Tucson is a happening  place... a property report has just confirmed it. It's official: we're one of the top five places to live in the USA. For this and more property news from Brent VanKoevering, click here. 

Racing for the Cure, with a V.I.P. guest

Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Olympian Brigetta Barrett will be special guest at Race for the Cure.
Photo courtesy of Arizona Athletics

Fact: Mammography rates in Southern Arizona are alarmingly low. Fact: Susan G. Komen Southern Arizona is the only local breast cancer foundation to turn donations into treatment dollars. Fact: 75 cents net of every dollar raised for Komen SAZ stays in the Southern Arizona community.

So walk, jog or run for a great cause on March 17th at the 15th Annual Race for the Cure, which moves to the UA campus for the first time. Olympian Silver Medalist Brigetta Barrett, whose mother fought breast cancer, is Honorary Race Chair. Sign up here.

Pleased to meet you

Jeweler Rick Pierini on why he needs his sleep, his music, and customers who know exactly what they want. 

Pierini Designer Jewelry

Photo by Madeleine Boos

Early bird or night owl? "Early bird. No question. I need my sleep. It’s prized. I get started early, depending on what I’m doing. I could be at home and I could work two hours doing design for the store or I’m working on the Internet on our website. I've got to be doing something. And I cycle, which is an early morning sport, or I go to the gym."

Favorite accessory? "My iPod. Music is everything. I have so much music - all varieties. Jazz, blues, rock, everything. I just can’t have enough."

Pierini Designer Jewelry

Photo by Samantha Cummings

Favorite faux pas? "A number of years back we had a client who was really well-connected in the community- very wealthy, very high-profile, and she was always buying jewelry from us. Right before the holidays, her daughter came in and purchased jewelry for her. We neatly wrapped it up and didn't realize until three hours later, we gave her empty boxes.

"She’s gone and I mean this is not the type of customer you want to do this to. So we scrambled. We had to call this large institution and ask how do we get a hold of the daughter, it’s urgent. Then we finally tracked her down, got it resolved, so it was fine. But it was one of those things you just don’t want to do."

Who is your dream customer? "We have them already. I’m all for interaction when I’m dealing with clients. I know most of them. I get to know their kids and you build a relationship as a jeweler. We've got a lot of what I consider dream clients. That's like if you walked in to me with an idea: ‘This is what I want in an engagement ring and I want this stone, and I want this shape, and I want this kind of look. Now what can you do?’ And you give me some license.

"Tell me what you want, give me a little latitude. Because we go further when you say, ‘Do it, this is what I want.’ Those are the dream clients. It’s not about money, its about having that relationship where it's not uptight business. It’s relaxed."

Pierini Designer Jewelry

Photo by Samantha Cummings

If I weren't a jeweler I would...  "Make modern furniture. Just be on my own, turn on the music, and make furniture. I started about 20 years ago, first making wall sculptures, and eventually got into furniture making.

It’s always been a passion of mine. It’s like an extension of my jewelry. I've sold some of my sculptures, and you can find my furniture pieces in my house.

"But I don’t have spare time, literally. This business is consuming and I've taken it to a point where it’s pretty involved."

If I could change one thing I would… "change people’s perception about small businesses and how important it is to how we all interact in life.

"It's easy to go onto and order. And I’m all for it, I do it. But there are certain times where you want to get that interaction back and forth. You lose that with the larger companies. You go in there, buy it, and they don’t care.

"If you’re buying something really generic like white paper towels, maybe that doesn't make a difference. But if you’re buying jewelry, do you want to buy it at Costco? Is that romantic enough? Or do you want to come into the store where you have that relationship? So that’s what I would want to change, that perception of small business and what it means."

Pierini Designer Jewelry

Photo by Madeleine Boos

* Rick Pierini and his family have been in business in Tucson since 1972. Visit Pierini Designer Jewelry at La Encantada shopping center, 2905 E. Skyline Drive.


Time to judge a book by its cover

  Put down your kindle, your e-book, your tablet. It’s time to celebrate the printed word, in more ways than one.

gaile guevara

Artist: Jeremy Crowle - Original Album Cover for Mathew Good

If ever there were proof that books are still beloved, it’s the upcoming Tucson Festival of Books.

In just five short  years it’s become the fourth largest book festival in the USA, drawing 100,000 attendees, authors from around the world, and readings, workshops, speakers, panel discussions and more.

Nevertheless, traditional book publishing is in a state of flux, with the printed word giving way to digital publishing. And it’s no coincidence that in the interior design world, an object that as once everyday and common, is being turned into something hallowed and celebrated.

books creative consultant Nicky Freegard

The home of creative consultant Nicky Freegard
Photo by Gillian Drummond

We’re not talking the coveted coffee table books stacked with decorative boxes and vintage cigarette lighters.  We’re talking books as artful design within the interior landscape.

Books are being grouped and displayed by color, by tone and by size as part of the décor. They’re being stripped of their jackets for a monochromatic effect or organized by color spectrum (think paint color wheel) and value (light to dark).

Interior designer Gaile Guevara, based in Vancouver, BC, has an eye for styling and the subtleties of detail. She artfully paired books to complement a painting, creating a composition in her own Vancouver loft.

"As a designer I tend to categorize elements. My partner always organized his books by title and I had always recognized my books by color," says Gaile. In this instance, they organized their efforts around a shared painting (above).

In the Tucson home of creative consultant Nicky Freegard (above), books are shelved by color, turning the bookshelf into its own wall art.

"Books have always warmed up a room, making it cozy and inviting. Now books provide the interior design and make up the art," says 3 Story's Madeleine Boos.

And it's not just about color, says Madeleine. Thanks to artistic and innovative shelving solutions, books are emerging into the third dimension as wall-mounted sculpture - proof that there is an alternative to mismatched and overbearing bookcases.

Here are our top bookshelf picks:

The Fin by B-Line

the fin

A composition of "fin" shelves adorn a white wall
Photo courtesy of B-Line

Produced by Italian Furnishings Company B-Line , the Fin has changed the way books have traditionally been displayed. Instead of shelves, books are stacked off the wall in any composition one can imagine.


Photo courtesy of B-Line

Measuring approximately 15” wide by 9” tall by 6” deep, the powder-coated steel modular unit has three shelves and comes in white or black. Priced at $330 each, they are available through Sonoma-based Stardust Modern Design.

Contact the showroom at (866) 939-9545, because the web-site does not list all offerings.

The Conceal Bookshelf by Umbra

conceal with red clock

Conceal book shelf
Photo courtesy of Miron Lior

Designed by Miron Lior in 2006 while still a student at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, this shelf floats your books and transforms them into a work of art. The powder-coated steel shelf becomes invisible behind a stack of books.

For Miron "it was a conscious  process of reducing the shelf to pure function and minimal form. 'Conceal' was a final version that completely eliminated the shelf from view," he says. Miron Lior's designs are often described as expressive minimalism. Conceal was his very first piece. He has gone on to win several awards for his designs, garnering international acclaim.

Conceal measures 5" x 5" x 5 1/2". Mounting hardware is included, and each holds a maximum weight of 15lbs. Priced at $13 online, with a portion of proceeds going to the Pratt Institute, they are available from Umbra.


Conceal Bookshelves. Photo courtesy of Mion Lior


Image 1

Conceal Bookshelf. Photo courtesy of Umbra




The Bookmark Vol.2 by Undpartner

The Bookmark Volume 2 shelf. Photo courtesy of undpartner

The Bookmark Volume 2 shelf. Photo courtesy of undpartner

The Bookmark Volume 2 shelf. Photo courtesy of undpartner

Photo courtesy of undpartner

This futuristic wall-mounted shelf by Austrian design studio undpartner(punkt)at turns your wall into a three-dimensional pattern. Its oblique shape keeps your books from falling. It's easy to put on the wall and open to any position.

The sculptural steel shelf comes in raw, oiled steel or in colors: cream, pastel blue, pale green, pastel violet.


The Bookmark Volume 2 shelf. Photo courtesy of undpartner

Photo courtesy of undpartner

Priced at  €105.00 (approximately $140), it measures approximately 12" h x 13" d x 26" l. Delivery time is four to six weeks. Contact Barbara Gollackner at [email protected]

* Like what you're seeing? Now go out and buy some books to create your own interior design. Don't miss the fifth annual Tucson Festival of Books, March 9-10 at the University of Arizona.


Come, unity

Community's the theme at Falora, the long-awaited new restaurant concept from Ari Shapiro. 


Ari Shapiro. Photo by Steve McMackin

"Come, unity." That was the phrase that Ari Shapiro kept thinking of with his new restaurant, Falora, due to open March 1st. It would be a place to gather, get cozy, share excellent pizza, and soak up the surroundings of a mid-century space that he has changed little and also a lot.

The highlight and backbone of Falora is a long 26- ft table, a medley of mesquite, eucalyptus, Spanish cedar, walnut, Arizona pecan, oak, purple heart and bamboo ply by Argentinian artist/furniture maker Ezequiel Leoni. Constructed in two parts, and with a wooden leaf that can connect the two, it dominates a fairly limiting 1100 sq ft space. But that's OK, says Ari. That customers would rub shoulders was always part of the plan.


Photo by Madeleine Boos

The property, at the historic Broadway Village in midtown Tucson, has seen several reincarnations since its design by architect Josias Joesler in 1939. The brick walls had been painted over inside, which practically broke Ari's heart. There followed a lot of sandblasting and even hand sanding to get them back to their original state. The original outlet boxes were inset into that brick wall, and at random places. So Ari and his team will make a feature out of them and place votive candles in these recessed niches.

In the brick wall that adjoins the yoga studio next door, his contractors discovered a hole covered with drywall. His solution was to infill the hole with chimney flu linings - 35 of them, stacked on top of each other. These will hold the pecan wood that will stoke the oven - a monster piece imported from Naples, Italy with a hearth made from the ash of Mount Vesuvius.

"It's all about the heat, and not just the 900-degree temperature,"  says Ari. "It's how the oven moves the heat, radiates it. You can cook a pizza in this in 90 seconds."

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Guests at Sparkroot are encouraged to gather too, at this round table and the long bar-height one in the background.
Photo courtesy of Repp Design + Construction

Up  until now, Ari has been known for two very different looks: the bright lollipop colors of his juice bar chain, Xoom; and the airy, loft-like style of his downtown coffee bar, Sparkroot. At Falora, there's something very different going on.

"We wanted to be sensitive to the building we were working with," says Rick McLain, architect and partner at Repp Design + Construction, which also designed Sparkroot. "We left the exterior walls, the openings, we didn't want to modify the windows or doors." But they wanted to add another, modern, layer to the interior whilst honoring the Joesler design, and at the same time establishing an earthy, hearthy theme.

Hence the two combined aesthetics - one warm and natural, the other contemporary and clean. The clay flues, wood-paneled wall and wooden tables and bar-stools sit upon a grey concrete floor amidst the white powder-coated steel bar/counter, white fiberglass chairs, and a smattering of smaller white-topped tables.

As well as serving pizza, salads, wine, beer and after-dinner liqueurs, Falora will be open in the mornings for home-made bread and preserves, and coffee. There's a record player, and guests will be encouraged to BYOV (Bring Your Own Vinyl).

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Sparkroot. Photo courtesy of Repp Design + Construction

Ari, 46, has dreamed of a pizza restaurant for years, but was focusing his attention on Xoom and Sparkroot. It was while helping his friends at Session Yoga move in to Broadway Village last year that he spotted this space for lease next door. It was a little early for him; in his mind, the pizza concept was still a few years out. And 1100 sq ft is not the perfect size for a fully functioning restaurant. But the space spoke to him.

The idea for the community table dates back to time spent living in San Francisco, and a cafe there that he loved. "The tables were so close together they may as well have been connected."

As for the pizza, that relates directly to his youth in New York. Ari loves pizza. He swears he can remember the exact time and place he was when he ate a slice - make that many - on street corners in Manhattan. He grew up in New Rochelle, outside the city, but went to high school in Manhattan where he studied classical piano. From there he attended college as a pre-med student. He got into several medical schools, but ditched the idea of being a doctor. There followed some backpacking around Europe, skiing in Colorado and, later, a year at law school.

"I'm a Jewish mother's worst nightmare," he jokes of his ditched attempts at medicine and law. Happily for him, his parents have been supportive of his changing career paths. And all along the way, as a dishwasher, server and bussing tables in cafes and restaurants, he was inadvertently paving the way for his own little food-service empire.


The oven from Naples. Photo by Steve McMackin

It was while living in San Francisco in the 1990s, playing in a band with his brother, that he started his first business selling cycling apparel. By the time 2000 came, the city was becoming "very rich and very expensive", says Ari. "I just felt I needed a smaller scene." He was visiting his mother, who by then lived in Tucson, and decided to move here. He spent time driving a cab, then started his first Xoom juice bar by applying for ten credit cards at the same time. "It was nuts," he says now. With Sparkroot, he took a more level headed approach and got a silent investor. Falora, he says, is "all me".

Come, unity. The phrase that drove him forward with his vision also describes his reputation in Tucson. Not only is he at the helm of an enviable business, but he's a crucial part of the city's downtown redevelopment; one of his juice bars sits right next door to Sparkroot on Congress Street, just a stone's throw from Hub and Playground.

"The great thing about Ari is he's always thinking a couple of steps ahead of everyone else," says Rick McLain, who believes that Broadway Village shopping center, just a couple of miles away from Congress Street, is set for similar vitality.


Photo by Madeleine Boos

Sushi Garden, Session Yoga, and now Falora, are helping to make Broadway Village a destination again, as it was when it was first built. Last week the center received a PR boost when actress Diane Keaton wrote a glowing piece about Bon Boutique on interiors website Remodelista after a visit to the store on Christmas Eve.

As for Ari, he'll tell you he now wants to hunker down and enjoy the businesses he has. Falora came along quicker than he had planned for, so he's not about to expand again soon.

Ask him about the future and he mentions that he'd love to live in New Zealand, "because it feels right". Wait... New Zealand? In the next breath he assures us that that's at least ten years away. Tucson, for him, is where it's at right now. So we can all enjoy Shapiro Inc for a little while yet.

* Read more about Session Yoga in our feature in Issue 2.