Room for More

A spate of construction downtown includes hotels that will cater to everyone from business travelers to casual tourists.

By Tara Kirkpatrick

There’s never been a better time to stay downtown.

After more than 40 years without a new hotel, downtown Tucson landed the hip AC Hotel three years ago, and now is awaiting additional neighbors in the midst of an exhilarating culinary, entertainment and lodging renaissance.

The triumphant launch of Marriott’s boutique concept in 2017 marked the first new downtown hotel since Braniff Place was built in 1973 on 180 W. Broadway. Later becoming Hotel Arizona, it shuttered in 2012, leaving the historic, 40-room Hotel Congress as the lone source for downtown rooms.

“We were proud to be part of a historic moment when the AC Hotel Tucson Downtown became the first new hotel built in four decades,” says Nick Fox, partner of Cima Enterprises, the hotel’s management firm. “Since opening in 2017, we’ve seen an impressive increase of business year over year. We’re privileged to welcome thousands of guests to the property each year, as well as host visitors and locals.”

But the AC is just the beginning. A new DoubleTree by Hilton will open adjacent to the Tucson Convention Center later this year. Hampton Inn and Home2 concepts will follow at Cathedral Square and another developer is planning a hotel in the iconic tower on 1 S. Church Avenue for 2021.

“It’s amazing to see the amount of progress that has been made downtown in the last five to six years,” comments Brent DeRaad, president and CEO of Visit Tucson. “Seeing the AC Hotel up and running and having such a fantastic start, it’s really raised the confidence level in other developers to take a look at downtown.”

“Originally, most of the developers were local, but we are now beginning to see a great deal of outside interest,” adds Fletcher McCusker, chairman of Rio Nuevo, the key group that invests state tax dollars in public and private projects for a vibrant city center. Under his leadership, every dollar Rio Nuevo invests yields $10 of privately funded investment.

Today, with numerous restaurants and bars, the Fox and Rialto theaters, the streetcar, the AC Hotel and other exciting hotel projects in the works, “You have a reason to come downtown now,” McCusker notes.

Details have yet to be nailed down, but the former Hotel Arizona is being re-developed by HSL Properties as a Hyatt Regency.

Hampton Inn and Home2 76 Rooms – Hampton 123 Rooms – Home2 Opening 2021

Two Hilton-brand hotels, Hampton Inn and the extended-stay Home2, are being built as a six-story complex near Cathedral Square at Stone Avenue and Ochoa Street.

The dual-hotel project, slated to open in Spring 2021, aims to bring new life to this corner of downtown and will be close to the Tucson Convention Center, says Grey Fay, managing partner of the Dallas-based Fayth Hospitality Group.

“If you draw a circle around downtown, there is really not another extended-stay hotel in that circle. We thought that was an unmet need.”

Fay continues, “The growth in the market there and the revitalization that Rio Nuevo is creating,” is a big reason why the Texas developer chose downtown Tucson. Fay adds, “We’d like to thank the city and Rio Nuevo for supporting the project and enabling us to bring this downtown. Without that kind of support, projects don’t happen.”

AC Hotel Tucson 136 Rooms Opened 2017

AC Hotel Tucson, a Marriott boutique concept that originated overseas, opened to much fanfare not only for its chic, European flair but for the sheer feat of making a new downtown hotel a reality.

The entire project, from concept to opening, took roughly five years, says California-based developer Scott Stiteler, who partnered locally with developer Rudy Dabdoub to build the stylish new lodging.

The striking eight-story building has a parking garage tucked inside, a sixth-floor pool deck with downtown views, a luxe lobby bar and lounge, a fitness center, and 1,500 square feet of meeting space for up to 100 people. Inside, stylish rusts and grays are paired with stone accents and glass train murals in the lobby. Tucson’s own Whiskey del Bac is served in the bar.

“When you open something that has a lot of caché and buzz, the way people received it in the community here, I’ve never seen anything like it before,” Stiteler observes. “You see locals come in the lobby and they feel like it’s theirs.”

AC began as a line of independent boutique hotels conceived in 1998 by Spanish hotelier Antonio Catalan, who entered into a joint partnership with Marriott in 2011. Tucson was selected as one of the U.S. cities for the brand, along with Miami, New Orleans and Chicago. “That was quite a surprise to us,” says McCusker.

“They picked Tucson along with those cities. The AC Marriott has changed the game for everybody. It’s an attraction in its own right.”

“People are still thrilled about it,” Stiteler enthuses. “The impact it’s having on business with Caterpillar, Raytheon, the University of Arizona … they are all booking here.”

Tower Hotel 150 Rooms Opening 2021

Scottsdale-based Opwest Partners is in the designplanning phase for a nine-floor hotel inside the copper-hued tower at 1 S. Church Avenue.

Multiple chains are interested in the project, which will include 1,500 square feet of meeting space, a 4,000-square-foot restaurant and bar, outdoor patios and a marketplace, says Tyler Kent, Opwest managing partner.

“Our property is envisioned to position at the top of the Tucson hotel market and will provide an authentic, higher-end boutique option,” he notes. “Downtown needs at least 600 new and quality hotel rooms for the convention center to better establish itself, grow and remain a sustainable destination for the future. The new hotels downtown will help reduce the loss of business that would otherwise be committing to TCC, as well as induce new demand.

“I am a native of Tucson and I want to add value,” Kent adds. “New development and capital investment will help stimulate the Tucson economy, create jobs, etc. There also is a huge gap in the Tucson market when it comes to hotel product. The AC has done very well and is a great example of what downtown needs more of.”

Tucson Convention Center, DoubleTree by Hilton 170 Rooms Opening 2020

A DoubleTree by Hilton adjacent to the Tucson Convention Center is planned to open later this year and will not only serve the conference attendee, but also theater, music and sports buffs who want a place to dine before and after events and shows.

The hotel will feature a rooftop pool with bar on the second floor, a restaurant with ample outdoor seating and a new parking garage. Its interior will showcase Tucson’s history and other beautiful Arizona landscapes and gems, says Roy Bade, executive vice president for Scottsdale-based Caliber, a wealth development company that also completed a multimillion-dollar renovation of Hilton Tucson East.

“Caliber is excited to be a part of Tucson’s growth,” Bade comments. “We have truly enjoyed working with our many partners on this project and are excited for the future of downtown Tucson.”

The TCC, which hosts the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show each year and is home to the Tucson Roadrunners professional hockey team, the Tucson Sugar Skulls professional indoor football team, and the main venue for the Tucson Symphony Orchestra, Arizona Friends of Chamber Music and many other groups, has long needed a nearby place for visitors to stay.

“The Tucson Music Hall and the Leo Rich Theater are there,” he says. “Sometimes, people want to stay and have dinner or a cocktail before or after a show. They want to make an evening of it. They will now have the ability to stay on site and have a relaxing evening.”

Live help

Winsome in White

Many makeovers have taken a ranch-style home
from its 1970s roots, into the 21st century.

By Debby Larsen / Photos by Amy Haskell

Situated on the edge of a golf course, the home of Debbie and Mike McGovern has been transformed over a more than 30-year period. Today, it is a serene scene in shades of ecru and white. The carefully curated interior furnishings all have a vintage vibe. In contrast, the carefully tended gardens are brimming with bright, colorful hues.

Debbie’s parents — Bob and Irene Lee — raised their four children in this neighborhood. Debbie fondly recalls her childhood days riding bikes, playing tennis and swimming in this small community. “I guess I never wanted to leave those happy memories,” she muses.

Not only were the McGoverns able to purchase a house that is just blocks away from Debbie’s childhood residence, Debbie’s brothers Robert and Mike also found homes in this neighborhood. “It makes family gatherings very convenient,” Debbie says with a laugh.

When constructed, the ranch-style home was typical of the ’70s, with its low ceilings, dark wood tones, carpet and tile. Debbie and Mike slowly removed all the remnants of that era. “I grew up in a Spanish Colonial-style home with its dark furniture and saturated color scheme,” Debbie notes. “When decorating my own home, I chose to go with a much brighter approach. I wanted to create décor that was light and airy.”

 

 

Over the decades, the couple has taken their time remodeling the house, tackling just a few projects at a time. Early efforts involved removing all the original carpeting and tile and constructing a garage. French doors were added to the dining area, which now opens up to their front garden. “It gets lovely morning light, and it’s a great spot for enjoying a cup of coffee,” Debbie adds.

More space was gained by removing a wall between the living and dining areas. This resulted in a large room that the McGoverns extended into the original garage space.

“My thought for choosing an allwhite theme was to create the illusion of increased space. The low ceilings always felt closed in,” she says.

Most walls are painted in shades of white, with just a few rooms in very pale hues. The flooring consists of wide wooden planks, also painted white.

A flood in the kitchen area prompted the last bit of remodeling. All the remnants of the dated space are now gone, and it is modern, open and bright, with white cabinetry, shimmering backsplash tile and marble countertops. Debbie chose several cabinets with glass fronts to showcase their dinnerware collections. In the adjacent breakfast nook, an antique armoire provides pantry storage.

Over the years, Debbie has been drawn to a vintage look for her décor, little by little adding to her collection. Her favorite pieces have been found in places such as antique shops, used furniture stores and estate sales. “I love the look of weathered wear. I don’t mind the bumps, cracks and peeling paint. I think it adds character,” she remarks. “My white-on-white theme is not only very calming, but it makes a nice backdrop for my vintage finds.”

In direct contrast to the subdued interior vibe, Debbie chose to add abundant color in the gardens. As an avid gardener, she spends many hours nurturing her large variety of plants. “Yes, it takes time to water, but, I enjoy the serenity of watering by hand,” she says.

Both front and backyard landscapes are adorned with large containers of bright, colorful annuals with several perennials tucked here and there. Debbie works diligently to keep all her gardens looking great throughout three seasons of the year. “I take a break when the summer heat arrives. Then, it’s time for relaxing in the pool and early morning tennis games.” The grass around the pool is kept looking good with reclaimed water.

In late September, when the hottest weather subsides, Debbie thinks about planting her fall and winter gardens. By Oct. 1, she begins choosing and planting her favorite annuals and replenishing her herb and vegetable gardens.

The cooler winter weather slows down their growth a bit, but they perk up in February and are glorious through April.

Debbie has a passion for roses. “I appreciate the unique varieties and fragrances that only garden roses can offer.”

Along the backyard wall — adjacent to the driving range — was the perfect place for a rose collection. After encountering problems with gophers, she repurposed large metal containers for the plants. “That way I can control the watering and fertilizing. I do a hard prune in January resulting in abundant blooms in spring. This coincides nicely with the time of our family’s Easter brunch. By then, the raised garden beds are abundant with herbs and spring vegetables.”

A long covered patio is well utilized for entertaining. Always on the lookout for interesting finds, Debbie rescued a well-worn metal prep table from the University of Arizona Pi Phi Sorority house’s renovation. Now in its new home, the piece works great as a buffet, while adding a touch of nostalgia from her college days.


Sources:

Roses: Mesquite Valley Growers Nursery, (520) 721-8600 Antiques: Tom’s Fine Furniture and Collectables, Tomsfurnituretucson.com

 

 

Hey, Hey, He’s a Monkee!

TSO Super Pops!

Feb. 8, 7:30 pm; Feb. 9, 2 pm

Micky Dolenz — The Voice of The Monkees

Those of us who were kids in the ’60s vividly remember the iconic TV show whose opening credits spotlighted four young musicians paling around together like they hadn’t a care in the world. And for a while, they were truly on top of the world, with a string of hits that included “Last Train to Clarksville,” “Daydream Believer,” and “I’m a Believer.” Those three songs were written by the powerhouse performers Tommy Boyce and Bobby Hart, John Stewart, and Neil Diamond respectively. And tellingly, the first and the third numbers were sung by Micky Dolenz, who was best known on the TV series as the goofball drummer, but who had solid credentials both as a musician and an actor.

Micky, the son of actor George Dolenz (who played The Count of Monte Cristo on TV in 1956) and actress Janelle Johnson, who had several small parts in films before she retired from the profession, began his career as the star of the 1950s series Circus Boy, set in a travelling circus in the late-1800s. When the show went off the air in 1958, Micky went on to a fairly low-key high school and college life, learned to play guitar, and joined a rock band.

But show business had another turn in store for him, and he became one of 400-plus hopefuls who auditioned for The Monkees, conceived as a series about a rock band that had more ambition than luck. Though famously, serious rockers like Stephen Stills tried out for the show, it was Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork and Davy Jones who were picked for the cast. Contrary to rumors that the four guys were just camera-ready actors with scant musical skills, each member of the group had already worked as a musician and/or singer, including Jones’ stint in the musical Oliver!, Tork’s folk music performances in Greenwich Village, and Nesmith’s time playing bass and guitar and singing in LA.

“The screen tests were quite extensive,” Dolenz recalls. “They included acting, improvisation, scene study, and as well as playing music and singing. Clearly, they had in mind that if everything went well and we managed to sell the show, we would record and eventually go on the road. So you had to be able to play and sing to get into the auditions. My audition piece was ‘Johnny B. Goode’ by Chuck Berry.”

Dolenz mentions the combination of good luck and industry savvy that went into creating the show. “Like one of the Monkees’ producers once said, ‘We caught lightning in a bottle.’ That comment says it all,” he observes. “Everybody asks, ‘At the time, did you realize how successful it was going to be?’ Of course not … no one knows. You hope, you do your best, and sometimes you think, ‘That’s pretty good. I kind of like that one!’”

The series ran from 1966 to 1968, and during the run of the show, there were numerous recording sessions, and even live tours. Touring as not only a rock band, but pop cultural icons with a hit TV show, put The Monkees in a class of their own. Scores of nearly hysterical fans turned up for the concerts, and they weren’t always kind to the opening acts, including a then-unknown guitarist named Jimi Hendrix. “In concerts now, I’ll play a bit of ‘Purple Haze’ and tell the story of Jimi trying to perform while the kids were screaming, ‘We want Davy!’” Dolenz notes.

As a guitarist himself (he trained in classical guitar, and then ventured into folk and rock), Dolenz could definitely relate to Jimi’s struggles. He had a challenge of his own, too. Once he was cast in the show, he was told he’d be playing the drums, as well as singing.

“The truth was, I only had to learn The Monkee songs,” he says. “It wasn’t like I was in a cover band and had to know whatever was on the radio at the time. I do not consider myself a pro studio cat in any stretch of the imagination. I loved doing it. I ended up also singing most of the leads, which can be a little bit of a challenge when you’re the drummer. The drummer is supposed to keep time, and the lead vocal tends to drift across the bar lines. It’s like that old thing of rubbing your stomach and patting your head at the same time!”

After the series ended, producer Bob Rafelson (working with a then-unknown Jack Nicholson) wrote the truly psychedelic feature Head for the group. The movie didn’t burn up the box office, but it became a cult classic, featuring appearances by everyone from matinee idol Victor Mature to boxer Sonny Liston to rock legend Frank Zappa.

Dolenz has stayed busy in show business over the years, directing, acting, writing (including, with Mark Bego, the autobiography I’m A Believer: My Life of Monkees, Music, and Madness) and continuing to record and tour.

Fans at the TSO show can look forward to hearing not only Monkees tunes, but also works by one of Dolenz’s favorite groups — The Beatles. He was actually at original recording sessions for some of the Fab Four tunes he’ll sing, and he is excited to share with audiences the stories of those adventures and perform the songs. “It’s unbelievable to sing something like ‘Sgt. Pepper,’” he comments. “The Beatles never even sang that live.”

This will not be his first trip to the Grand Canyon State. “I’ve been to Arizona many times, all over the area. I’ve got my good buddy Alice Cooper out there, whom I play golf with up in Phoenix. I love the area.” In fact, he and fellow Monkee Michael Nesmith (who, fans will recall, wrote Linda Ronstadt’s hit ‘Different Drum’), will perform in Phoenix on April 14 with The Monkees Present the Mike and Micky Show.

As for what Dolenz does when he’s not touring and performing, he says that he has a “bunch of hobbies,” everything from bowling to gardening to woodworking. “I make fine furniture pieces with my daughter Georgia and my sister Coco called Dolenz & Daughters Fine Furniture,” he reveals.

But what he will always be known for is being a vital part of the pop phenomenon that was The Monkees. “I’m blessed to have been part of that,” he concludes. “It’s given me a very comfortable life, and to this day, I go out there and sing those wonderful songs and enjoy every minute of it.”

TCC Music Hall. 882-8585. Tucsonsymphony.org.

A Family of Flavors

A new local restaurant marries the flavors of Turkey and other Mediterranean cultures.

By Betsy Bruce / Photography by Thomas Veneklasen

A quartet of female friends are tucked in a booth at the newly revamped spot formerly occupied by May’s Counter on East Speedway near the university. The four are chatting and laughing, while savoring offerings on a shared starter plate. When asked for a review, thumbs are produced and target the ceiling. “The food is delicious, the service is excellent, and the location is convenient.”

Under the proprietorship of the elegant Esar family, diners who are hungry for a taste of authentic Turkish and Mediterranean food are greeted like family at Istanbul Mediterranean Cuisine and Bar. Having emigrated from their beloved Turkey six years ago, the Esars are savoring life and opportunities afforded in the desert Southwest as they share recipes passed down for generations.

A rendering of the historic Bosphorus Bridge is the logo for Istanbul, symbolizing the family’s homeland and the restaurant’s spanning of two cuisines. Exposed brick walls are adorned with glorious framed pictures of Istanbul and Ankara at night. Pendant lights cast a warm glow over polished dark wood tables; the aforementioned booths are blue and red, a nod to UA. Well-placed big-screen TVs keep sports fanatics in the know while they belly up to the expansive counter and take a seat on red leather bar stools. Popular local and exotic brews are poured, from Barrio Blonde to Mythos Greek Lager. “Cases of Turkish beer and wine sold out quickly and had to be reordered,” says manager and middle son Zahed. The open kitchen, just behind the bar, showcases the slow-cooked rotisserie meat known as “doner,” redolent of marinade and spices, sliced from the spit — a savory focal point of many dishes.

That the Esars work well together manifests itself in the success of the restaurant. Each morning patriarch Rustan is the first to arrive around 8 a.m., whisking marinades laced with aromatic spices to tenderize and enhance meats. His specialties, the roasted lamb shanks and chops, bathe for 12 hours. Eldest son and chef Kamran arrives 30 minutes later to prepare fresh soups — lemon chicken, Turkish red lentil and more. Zaki makes his way soon thereafter, arms filled with fresh local produce, including heads of crisp Romaine, red onion and grassy cucumbers. Zahed is responsible for the front of the house, taking reservations and training staff. Mother Najhba creates the baklava and jalebi, a sweet batter that is piped into deep fat for frying, then dipped in honey. “We all make this work together,” says Zahed. “My siblings, parents and friends all work together and we really enjoy it. When family is involved … you work from your heart.”

Istanbul’s Doner Plate features rotisserie beef and lamb, a Mediterranean salad, rice and pita.

The Istanbul menu makes decisions difficult — think eight kebab choices alone and seven vegetarian plates, including Sarma (rolled grape leaves filled with savory large-grain rice or marinated ground lamb), Falafel (chick peas, hummus, parsley and feta); and Spanakopita ( spinach, feta and flaky Greek pastry endlessly layered).

Starters feature a popular triumvirate served with chewy pita and cucumber slices. Tzatziki is house-made yogurt, cucumber, oregano, garlic and olive oil; and Hummus features chickpeas, tahini (ground sesame seed) lemon olive oil and garlic. Another starter option: fried zucchini, carrot, onion, parsley and egg whisked together and tossed in bubbling oil create Mucver, fritters presented with a side of garlic and yogurt dipping sauce.

Kebabs are a classic choice with options of beef (filet mignon) chicken or lamb, marinated, skewered and grilled with fresh peppers and onion with sides of Turkish rice and sautéed green beans.

Close to a dozen salad offerings will please those in search of a light but satisfying lunch. Each starts with the freshest produce … crisp Romaine, cucumber, tomatoes, onion, green pepper, imported Turkish olives and piquant Feta cheese. Succulent marinated, roasted-on-the-spit chicken or beef are available to enhance salad choices.

Burger lovers are not forgotten at Istanbul. Turkish Sliders consist of a quartet of succulent beef patties dressed with fragrant Turkish sauce and cheese. The Saganaki Burger features grilled beef topped with a square of fried Greek cheese that’s crunchy on the outside, melted on the inside, dressed with onion and tomato.

Pita sandwiches are served with Mediterranean salad (romaine, feta, red onion, tomato) or fries, with choices of chicken, falafel, rotisserie lamb or beef. Grilled wraps include fresh sautéed vegetables and savory grilled meat with Mediterranean salad, fries or green beans and rice.

House specials include Manti, which are traditional Turkish dumplings filled with spiced beef and accompanied by sautéed green beans and Turkish rice. Lahmacun, also known at Turkish Pizza, features savory ground lamb crowned with fresh tomatoes, onion, garlic and cilantro. Falloff- the-bone lamb chops, roasted lamb shanks, grilled salmon and prawns are equally popular choices.

Make room for dessert, because Istanbul’s Baklava is buttery, flaky, impossibly light and perfectly sweet. Each square made by matriarch Najhba is topped with ground pistachios and served with dense, on-the-verge- of-melting vanilla ice cream.

Traditional Turkish coffee, served in a small cup, is thick and frothy with an earthy aroma. Most who’ve tasted it say it’s addictive. “One cup will carry me through an entire day,” says Zahed. “That’s all you need.”

How will success be measured by the family? Well, that’s easy: “A bit of time off for each of us,” says Zahed. The plan is eventually to offer breakfast and brunch and open a second location. Success however, already has been achieved to great effect by the entire Esar family. Taking a bit of time from their busy schedules, all five — Rustan, Najhba, Zahed, Zaki and Kamran — recently have become U.S. citizens. They are as American as baseball, UA and the love of great desserts, including Baklava, of course!


Istanbul Mediterranean Cuisine and Bar
2945 E. Speedway Blvd, 849-7945
IstanbulTucson.com
Open 7 days a week 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Live help

Light It Up

SCOTT BARKER

A new exhibition at the Center for Creative Photography demonstrates how one gallery in New York City revolutionized the way we view photography.

Garry Winogrand, New York City, 1968, gelatin silver print, 20 x 25 cm. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Purchase. © The Estate of Garry Winogrand, courtesy Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco

The year 1971 was a time for groundbreaking cultural changes, ranging from the airing of the first episode of Norman Lear’s beloved sitcom All in the Family, the first visitors entering the futuristic Walt Disney World, to the opening of LIGHT Gallery in New York City.

That last event may have gone unnoticed by much of the nation, but it caused a sea change in photography, the ripples from which still are being felt today. And starting this month, visitors to the Center of Creative Photography (CCP) will get to experience that splash for themselves.

CCP Chief Curator Becky Senf sums up why LIGHT started a revolution: “For a long time there had been a notion that photography wasn’t art because you used a camera, which was a

Photo Souja, Tennyson Schad, 1972. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: LIGHT Gallery Archive

machine, and so anything made with a machine clearly was not an art. And the LIGHT Gallery had a mission to change people’s perception of what photography would be.”

From 1971 until 1987, LIGHT showcased the works of some of the best photographers of the 20th century. “Two who were mainstays were Aaron Siskind and Harry Callahan,” explains Senf. “They benefited tremendously from having an institution that was dedicated to the sale of contemporary photography. But also people like Robert Mapplethorpe had his first gallery exhibition at LIGHT, and the gallery sold the work of Paul Strand and André Kertész. In later years, the gallery represented Ansel Adams. Because he was so famous and established, the money from the sale of his works allowed the gallery to show all kinds of young, new photographers who weren’t going to sell that much, but needed that kind of exposure to further their careers.”

The first director for LIGHT was Harold Jones, who previously had worked at the George Eastman House (now the George Eastman Museum). In 1974, Ansel Adams had an exhibition at the University of Arizona, and UA President John Schaefer asked Adams if he would give his archives to the university, instead of donating them to the Bancroft Library at Cal Berkeley. He ultimately agreed, but only if the archives included all of his related materials (negatives, biographical information, syllabi, etc.), and he had one other condition. According to Senf, Adams said, “‘If you want to put me in a photographic context, I would like to talk with you about that. The Bancroft sees me as an environmentalist, and I am that, but even more, I am a photographer.’”

Adams was good friends with Beaumont Newhall, who had been Harold Jones’ boss at the George Eastman House, and Newhall suggested that Dr. Schaefer speak with Jones about which photographers to include at the new center. One thing led to another, and Jones was hired to be the director of CCP. He brought his concepts that worked so well at LIGHT to CCP.

BD Vidibor, untitled, gelatin silver print, 17.8 x 27.6 cm. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona, Gift of BD Vidibor. © BD Vidibor

Now, these 40-plus years later, CCP has the archives from LIGHT, and the exhibit debuting this month — called The Qualities of LIGHT: The Story of a Pioneering New York City Photography Gallery — will allow everyone to experience a bit of what that gallery was like. “Rather than simply exhibiting the photographers who showed there,” says Senf, “I wanted an exhibition that would suggest to the audience what were the significant qualities of this institution that made it so impactful and central to this culture-wide change in how we understand photography. And so the exhibition is organized around these five qualities: Possibility, that the gallery made it seem like a career as a photographer was a possibility, and they did that by setting higher prices and creating a space that really validated the medium. Community, the way in which the community felt that it had a home base at this institution, and it was a place where they could come together and feel the support of people who believed the same thing they did. The third section is called Fearless, because it was an innovative space that was willing to take all kinds of risks in how it approached what they showed, whom they showed, and how they showed. Transparent is the fourth section, which is about LIGHT being a space for learning, and the way in which it welcomed people and created an educational opportunity to better understand the medium. And the final section is Commitment. It’s about the way in which the gallery took its relationship with its artists seriously, and felt that how the gallery would be successful was committing itself to the support of the artists, and trying to transform their experience through the gallery by providing exclusive representation that offered meaningful financial support.”

TOP: Mickey Pallas, Victor Schrager, Director of LIGHT Gallery, at 724 Fifth Avenue, ca. 1976. Center for Creative Photography, University of Arizona: LIGHT Gallery Archive. © Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona Foundation

Visitors to the exhibit will see a wide range of images from the archives, as well as documents, models of the galleries, and loans of photographs from current galleries that were heavily influenced by LIGHT. “We also have a great audio guide,” Senf notes. “It’s the first time that the center has done one, and you’re going to hear the voices of the people that I interviewed in my research, talking about their experiences visiting the gallery or showing their work there.”

Anyone expecting to see something conventional, staid, or dated should take note: “It’s a very unusual show for the CCP, but you can’t take this innovative, forwardthinking, risk-embracing institution, and then do a boring, safe show,” sums up Senf. “That wouldn’t make any sense. It felt really important to honor that ethos of experimentation and boldness in the way that we treated the exhibition.

Meet CCP Director Anne Breckenridge Barrett

There’s a lot going on at the Center for Creative Photography, and we asked Barrett to update us on how she came to be the director, and what visitors to the center can look forward to in the near future.

How did your interest in photography begin?

I went to Interlochen Arts Academy, a boarding school for the arts in high school, and from a very early age I was immersed in the fine arts. I ended up majoring in photography and art history at NYU and American University. It was during this time in New York City that my love of photography was born. The late ’80s and early ’90s were an incredible time for art making in New York, and I soaked up all I could. Personally, my work concentrated on photo essays documenting the lower east side and Bowery as those neighborhoods were declining — long before gentrification set in.

What brought you to Tucson?

A hundred thousand fine prints representing more than 2000 artists, 8 million archival objects representing the life’s work of over 270 artists, all housed in the premier institution for photography in North America! Also, there is no place like Tucson, and I have my husband to thank for introducing me to this perfect place to call home. He was born and raised in Tucson, as was his father, and after living and working in museums back East for many years, I was lucky enough to meet him in law school and we decided to come West after graduating. We lived in Tucson for 10 years, and then moved to Chicago, where I served as the Director of Collections and Exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago. But then, as luck would have it, a leadership position opened up at the CCP, and I was able to return to Tucson and engage in the work I love in the place I have grown to call home.

What changes are ahead for CCP?

There are so many exciting things on the horizon. Our priorities as an institution are: investment, engagement, and access, and over the past two years we have made solid strides in each area. Recently we brought in the largest acquisition since the center was founded and celebrated a wonderful night with the artist David Hume Kennerly, in a discussion with Jon Meacham. Going forward, we will break ground on a new interdisciplinary gallery where our collection will be integrated into the curriculum of students across all disciplines at the University of Arizona, and where the public will experience innovative ways of interacting with the collection. We are consistently growing our membership program, and have taken our members on wonderful trips to New York, Paris and Carmel, California, where we attend art fairs, enjoy behindthe- scenes experiences relevant to photography and fine art, and deepen our sense of community. I formed a leadership giving circle earlier this year and I am full of gratitude for the support shown by members of the Tucson community who believe in our mission and trajectory. I am also humbled and grateful to work with the new Vice President for the Arts, Andy Schultz, who is creating the Arizona Arts division to align with UA President Robbins’s strategic plan for the University. It is truly an incredible time for the arts here at the university.

What are the plans for the David Hume Kennerly archive?

The David Hume Kennerly archive will serve students and the public for generations to come. Visiting scholars, UA faculty and students, curators, and artists will have the opportunity to engage with one of the most important photojournalism archives of the 20th and 21st centuries by connecting the archive to areas of student activity across campus. From journalism, political science, history and more, the Kennerly Archive will become a key component of the CCP’s interdisciplinary offerings. The current exhibition in Old Main will remain there for the next year, and in the summer of 2020, we will use the archive in an interdisciplinary exhibition exploring photojournalism and politics, focusing on its enduring impact on how we document our history and culture. This exhibition will, of course, be very timely given the presidential campaign of 2020.

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