Brewer Allan Conger

The people of Southern Arizona put their spin on places to visit.

By Stacey Gregory

Born and raised in Tucson, Arizona, Allan Conger spent ten years in the Marine Corps before finding his way back to the Old Pueblo, attending The University of Arizona, and meeting and marrying Alicia, a Tucson native. Not only does he like beer, but he also discovered a creative outlet through homebrewing.

“I like being creative, so we started brewing beer in our garage,” said Conger. “Folks thought we were pretty good at brewing beers, so Alicia and I thought we’d give it a go and try and work for ourselves.”

They opened 1912 Brewing Company, named after the year Arizona became a state. Allan is the brewer, and Alicia runs the taproom.

“The atmosphere is laid back and welcoming.  Our guests often describe it as feeling like home, and they can find something they like because we make such a wide variety of styles,” he said.

1912 offers more than 20 beer styles with about seven core brews on tap. Two flagship brews include Weapons Check (an Irish Red) and the award-winning Naughty Naranja (a gose). Seasonal options (fruit-permitting) include the favorite blueberry pie gose.

“My wife is Hispanic, so we also like to bring in Mexican ingredients, like our Mexican Candy gose,” he said.

When he’s not creating new flavors, Conger is exploring Tucson. He shares some of his favorites here.

Conger’s Tastes of Tucson

The obvious choice, but one not to be overlooked, is Tucson’s Mexican cuisine. You’ll find it on just about every street in the city. One of his favorites was also a 2021 Travel Magazine, “The 10 Best Hot Dogs in the USA,” and that’s The Sammy from El Guero Canelo. This is a Sonoran-style hot dog (a hot dog wrapped in bacon and topped with beans, onions, tomatoes, mayo, mustard, and jalapeño sauce) that has two hot dogs instead of just one.

“One Sammy dog is a full meal,” he said. “In the summer, a great addition is their mangoyada made with mango, chamoy, ice, tajín, and lime.”

Tucson has other options, too. The Parish tops his list. Tucson’s only Southern fusion gastropub offers bold dishes like Guedry’s Gumbo with crawfish hush puppies and an extensive selection of craft beers and unique cocktails created with housemade infused spirits.

“I love their compressed watermelon, pickled berry, and pork belly salad,” said Conger. “The people there are also great, including the owners. They push the envelope with different techniques and flavors.”

And when it comes to date night, the couple’s favorite cocktail is a whiskey sour at the Good Oak Bar, a downtown establishment serving local and regional whiskey and agave-based spirits, Arizona beer and wine, and delicious pub fare.

Follow Conger Around Tucson

Going outside is high on Conger’s list of things to do in Tucson. He spends time hiking and mountain biking at Sweetwater Preserve. The more than 880-acre preserve draws hikers, bikers, equestrians, walkers, and runners year-round. The 15 miles of trails were ranked #4 in the nation by

“You can spend quite a bit of time here, walking around and seeing all the different aspects of nature. It’s a good workout not too far from town,” he said.

He also points out the nightlife is a bit unusual in Tucson. The swanky Owls Club cocktail bar was once a funeral home built in the 1920s in downtown Tucson. Armory Park’s neighborhood haunt offers an extensive whiskey selection, an old-world wine list, well-curated spirits, and a modest beer program.

Another downtown Tucson funeral home was transformed into Reilly Craft Pizza and Drink with a second location in Oro Valley. Both modern Italian eateries serve elevated wood-fired pizzas and pasta, but the downtown location has the Tough Luck Club. The popular downtown basement speakeasy serves cocktails in the basement of Reilly.

Tombstone Re-enactor Sunny Quatchon

The people of Southern Arizona put their spin on places to visit.

By Stacey Gregory

You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who loves Tombstone more than Sunny Quatchon. Originally from Los Angeles, California, she arrived in Mesa, Arizona, around 1986, moved to Sierra Vista in 2005, and found her sweet spot in Tombstone in 2010. She discovered The Town Too Tough To Die while searching for a vintage dress to match her handcrafted millinery (women’s apparel for the head).

“I’m a re-enactor, so I came to Tombstone to have an 1880s Victorian dress made. When the shopkeepers saw my bonnet, they asked if I would sell them in their store, so that was the start of me in Tombstone,” said Quatchon.

Today, she keeps busy as a Certified Tourism Ambassador for Visit Tucson, volunteers for the City of Tombstone marketing department, and works with the Arizona 80 Foundation promoting local attractions along 72 miles from Benson to Douglas on Historic Highway US 80.

“I’m far too busy doing tours to make beautiful hats anymore,” she said. “I am a step-on tour guide for the tour buses that come into town from places like Tucson and Phoenix. And besides that, I also show international writers and travel agents from the Arizona Office of Tourism around Tombstone and our Cochise County, the Land of Legends.”

Quatchon loves to dress in her vintage clothes and share the wonders visitors can explore in Southern Arizona’s Benson, Tombstone, Bisbee, and Douglas... and also the enchanting nearby Sonoran cities of Agua Prieta, Naco, Cananea, and Nacozari, Mexico.

Follow Quatchon Around Tombstone

Here, she shares some of her favorite attractions. Tombstone is known for the O.K. Corral, the legendary gunfight site, but there’s so much more to see and do there. Quatchon’s favorite is the Good Enough Mine Tour, a walking tour of an authentic 1880s silver mine that now includes an added dining experience called the Toughnut Dinner Theatre.

“The tour actually has four different levels so visitors can explore depending on how much of the stairs and climbing they want to do,” said Quatchon. “At the new dinner theater, you can go deep into the heart of the mine, sit on a dynamite case, have your dinner, and be entertained.”

The famed Oriental Saloon not only features family-friendly indoor live gunfight shows daily and live music every weekend to complement the full-service bar, but it also has electronic bingo Wednesday through Sunday, a big draw. Quatchon thinks it’s because people love to play electronic machines!

She also likes to show visitors the exciting Big Nose Kate’s Saloon, plus the Bird Cage Theatre and Old Courthouse State Park museums. Her other favorite Tombstone gem is the only Gothic Revival adobe church in the world—Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church at 3rd and Safford Streets.

“It’s the oldest Protestant church in Arizona, built in 1882 by Endicott Peabody with financial help from Wyatt Earp, who helped Rev. Peabody hang the classic silver oil lamps from the high ceiling. Tombstone has so many ties into history, and I love taking the tours to Saint Paul’s,” she said.

Follow Her Through Southern Arizona

Quatchon’s tours do not end in Tombstone. Along Old Highway 80, she likes Benson, Arizona, which caters to the RV crowd with more than 1,200 RV sites. It’s the Gateway to Cochise County and is home to Karchner Caverns State Park. Tip: make your reservations ahead of time for the Kartchner cave tour!

She enjoys Bisbee’s Queen Mine Tours too. Guests don a hard hat, miner’s headlamp, and a yellow slicker before boarding a train to head underground. The Copper Queen Hotel has entertained guests and ghosts since 1902 and is filled with Edwardian-era decor, Art Nouveau antiques, grand pianos, and Tiffany chandeliers.

“And then when we get down to Douglas, oh my goodness. The lobby of the 1927 Gadsden Hotel is priceless, all white marble and Tiffany stained-glass windows,” she said. “Downtown Douglas is being refurbished as we speak, and soon will be the largest Dual Port of Entry in the country.”

Quatchon, looking the part in her vintage clothing, is an absolute magnet when promoting her True West town at many important tourism conferences.

“Whether it be Benson, Tombstone, Bisbee, or Douglas—I like to stay with my tours as much as I can so that when we get to our destination, I can answer any questions and just be a good hospitality person wherever we happen to be,” she said.

Artist and Entrepreneur Sloane Bouchever

The people of Southern Arizona put their spin on places to visit.

By Stacey Gregory

Out of all the places in the world artist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and international traveler Sloane Bouchever chose to raise his family in Bisbee, Arizona. Born in New York City and raised all over the East Coast, he found himself exhibiting his paintings and working as a fashion model for the likes of Armani and Versace in Europe for a decade, eventually meeting his wife in Zurich, Switzerland. They started a family in Barcelona, Spain, before returning to the US.

“My wife Danielle and I moved to Bisbee in 1991 with our two little kids,” said Bouchever. “We were searching for a cheap place to live that offered affordable homes, liberal attitudes, great weather, and lots of working artists.”

A man of many talents, he founded more than 20 companies, and as a very early adopter of the Internet, he has been called an eCommerce pioneer. His current company provides encryption services to thousands of online merchants. He and his wife are also international and local humanitarians whose foundation has built multiple schools, medical facilities, libraries, and community centers in Haiti. His most passionate project to date though is the Artemizia Foundation, a contemporary, graffiti, and street art museum and commercial gallery.

“Our growing collection encompasses 700 works of art by 100 artists from 40 countries with a 50-50 ratio of female to male artists, 40% of whom are non-white artists,” said Bouchever.

Visitors can see major pieces by Swoon, Banksy, Lady Pink, PichiAvo, LeDania, Cey Adams, and Ai Weiwei. The unexpected collection is one of many surprises in Bisbee, and he shares his favorites with you.

Follow Bouchever Around Bisbee

Bouchever lives in Bisbee due in part to the thriving arts community, with more than 200 artists and many art galleries. A community project known as the Broadway Stairs transformed the alleyway of Bisbee’s Brewery Gulch with hundreds of thrift store paintings literally nailed to the walls and fences. International street artist MuckRock (Jules Muck) is a dear friend of Bouchever and has painted more than 60 murals on people’s homes and buildings, so he always takes out-of-towners on a “muck tour.” And, of course, visitors will want to explore the new location of Artemizia Foundation in the restored 818 Tombstone Canyon schoolhouse built in 1917.

On the south side of Bisbee is a former open pit copper mine known simply as “The Pit” by locals that he calls a mind-bender. Soldiers, miners, railroad laborers, and other young men started playing baseball in 1909 at the city’s historic Warren Ballpark. Explore the city’s rich past at The Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate.

“Bisbee has changed significantly over the past 32 years, it’s gone much more upscale, but Bisbee is still a liberal oasis in a conservative desert, as we like to say. Local T-shirts simply read ‘Mayberry on Acid’,” he said.

Bouchever’s Tastes of Bisbee

When asked to recommend places to eat, he shared an extensive list. The Copper Pig is his family’s new favorite spot and is a neighborhood eatery that serves upscale comfort food.  They have enjoyed Cafe Roka’s small plates and entrées for 30 years. Dot’s Diner is perfect for outdoor Sunday brunch surrounded by vintage Airstream trailers. Must-try dishes include the grilled pork with noodles and the pho at Thuy’s Noodle Shop and the Thai Me Up, Thai Me Down pizza at Screaming Banshee. He also says you can’t leave out The Quarry for the world’s best “Bitchin BLT.” And the longest continually run bar in Arizona is still operating—St. Elmo’s Bar was established in 1902 and is a beloved dive bar.

“For a tiny town, we’re incredibly lucky to have such diverse and wonderful dining and drinking options,” said Bouchever.

Art & Beyond Tucson’s Must-See Museums

By C. Jill Hofer

T-Town is a treasure trove of art, artifacts, and interesting items on display. Tucson’s museums provide much more than a cool respite from the daytime heat.  They give visitors a close-up look at art from ancient to contemporary and offer a trip back in time and a window to the many cultures that converge to make us who we are today.


The tapestry of Tucson is rich and colorful with a diverse, multi-faceted history. See how the fabric of the Old Pueblo is woven together at Tucson’s many museums inspired by the past.


Two girls look at vintage neon signs inside the Ignite Sign Art Museum in Tucson

The Ignite Sign Art Museum is described as an “out-of-control rescue mission” to preserve and restore historically significant  signs of Tucson. Marvel at neon-bending demonstrations, partake  in scavenger hunts and other interactive activities, or simply bask in the glow of the vintage signs of yesteryear.


This recreation of the Spanish colonial fort built in 1775 later became the founding structure of the city of Tucson. Artifacts are brought to life through docent tours and re-enactments of the daily lives and traditions of Native Americans and territorial settlers.


A model train diorama of Tucson sits inside the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum

A time capsule of Southern Arizona’s ranching and Western heritage, the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum showcases life in the 1900s through recreations of historic spaces as well as numerous railroad artifacts and more than 100 horse-drawn vehicles on display.


Celebrate the proud history of southern Arizona at the historic Josias-Joesler-designed Arizona History Museum. You’ll cruise through transportation history with wagons and a 1912 Studebaker car; explore treasures including Spanish colonial silver and Old West firearms; walk through a replica of an underground mine; and discover the stories and artifacts of Geronimo and Wyatt Earp.


Kids of all ages in the Old Pueblo can delight in a plethora of museums purposely curated with the whole family in mind. These destinations beckon with exploration, discovery, and family fun.


A little Asian girl runs forward with her hands outstretched.

Spend the day exploring this hands-on children's museum, which is home to an abundance of immersive, interactive, educational exhibits. This vibrant attraction welcomes all visitors to learn, discover, and create together.


Marvel at a dizzying array of antique and contemporary exhibitions of expertly curated miniatures collections. Demonstrations, artist receptions, storytime, and special events complement the awe and amazement which is guaranteed with every visit to this world-class Tucson treasure.


Two hawks stand on a branch

Explore the Sonoran Desert’s vibrant ecosystem through a wide variety of indoor and outdoor exhibits. Traverse slopes and grasslands and stroll through cat canyon, hang out in the hummingbird aviary, and more.


Many area museums are rooted in the Native American history of the Old Pueblo. Gain a greater understanding and appreciation at these spaces dedicated to the earliest beginnings of Tucson’s culture.


Just a few miles outside Tucson in the stunning Texas Canyon is the Amerind Museum, where you can explore the traditions and the contemporary lives of Native Americans and gain cross-cultural insights through Native American art, history, culture, and archaeology.


Dedicated to the preservation of Yaqui culture, customs, history, and traditions, this museum features a gallery, gift shop, and mini café. You can also attend history nights and workshops, including traditional flower-making, embroidery, and cooking classes.


A historic photo of a group of women and men from Tohono O'Odham

The permanent collection of important art and artifacts at the Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Center & Museum extends to the great outdoors with nature trails and petroglyphs, preserving culture and instilling pride through education, programs and outreach.


Tucson is home to veterans from all branches of the armed services and area museums offer outstanding opportunities learn more about Tucson’s military history.


The Pima Air & Space Museum is the 80-acre home to thousands of artifacts and more than 400 historic aircrafts, viewable outside and within indoor exhibit hangers. Three hangers are specifically dedicated to WWII. Let your imagination take flight viewing examples from a Wright Flyer to a 787 Dreamliner.


Inside the 390th Memorial Museum hanger with vintage military airplanes

The 390th Memorial Museum offers a compelling look at WWII history as told through the stories of the 390th Bomb Group personnel. Learn about these heroes and the 673 airmen who sacrificed their lives in 1943. Admission is included in the Pima Air & Space Museum entrance fee.


Curious Tucsonans and visitors alike ponder the questions, “Where did we come from?” and “Where are we going?” These museums offer a look some of the ways we got from there to here.


Classic cars on display inside a museum

The Tucson Auto Museum shares its pristine collection of up to 75 iconic cars along with a wealth of automobilia. There’s something drool-worthy for every automobile aficionado from mid-century classics to vehicles from the movie Batman Returns.


The historic Southern Pacific Railroad Depot is home to the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum, providing educational outreach, oral history, and archival collections dedicated to Tucson rail history. Visit for a special event or just to be amazed at Engine #1673, originally built in 1900 as a steam engine.


It’s no surprise that the Old Pueblo was described as a “mini mecca for the arts” by the Wall Street Journal—some of the finest art in town is found in these museums.


A gallery shop.

Established in 1950, the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum celebrates the life and art of Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia. View the six permanent collections and rotating exhibitions as well as the work of up-and- coming local artists in the open-air mission with a top-notch gift shop.


The Museum of Contemporary Art in Tucson was established by artists as Tucson’s only museum devoted exclusively to contemporary art. Originally a downtown firehouse, the space is bursting with innovative art and the museum maintains a full exhibition and artist-in-residence program.


A gallery filled with art.

The Tucson Museum of Art hosts 2,000 works of art in a blend of historic adobe and modern architecture. Two main rotating exhibitions complement the permanent collection of sculpture, textiles, paintings, pottery, and more.


The first university in Arizona Territory has been a hub for Tucsonans to gather, learn, and connect since 1885, offering culture, entertainment, and a wealth of art for the public’s enjoyment.


Two guests sit on a bench looking at a painting

The University of Arizona Museum of Art offers something for everyone with special events, art talks, book signings, and rotating shows on contemporary topics as well as special examples from artists of all ages.


The outside of the Arizona State Museum

Since 1893, Arizona State Museum has studied the region’s 13,000-year human history and the Indigenous cultures of our area. Discoveries and findings are shared and expanded through gallery tours, master classes, and travel experiences offered through the oldest and largest anthropological research facility in the US Southwest.


Conveniently located in the Historic Pima County Courthouse in downtown Tucson, the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum boasts three major galleries: Mineral Evolution, Arizona Gallery, and a Gem Gallery. The collection spans from 1892 to modern times and features many touchable specimens as well as interactive exhibits.


For an Rx on the history of pharmacy, the Coit Museum of Pharmacy & Health Science is just what the doctor ordered. Home to one of the world’s leading pharmacy collections, this unique museum displays pharmacy and health sciences with complimentary admission.


Discover a clear view of the past through The John E. Greivenkamp Museum of Optics’ collection of antique and historical optical devices including telescopes, microscopes, lenses, and cameras from the 18th century to the present.


The wealth of interesting and enlightening museums is indicative of Tucson’s diverse, creative, and insatiably curious residents and visitors. Add these interesting spaces to your must-see list.


The outside of the Tucson Jewish Museum

Located in the first synagogue in the Arizona Territory, the Tucson Jewish Museum & Holocaust Center explores the legacy of Jewish experiences in our area. The center provides education about the Holocaust and other genocides while promoting diversity and human rights through dynamic features highlighting present-day social justice issues.


Japanese tapestries hand on the wall.

The cultural center and museum at Yume Japanese Gardens leads visitors through exquisite garden paths to a gallery brimming with Japanese art. Observe traditional folk artifacts, costumes, decorative arts, and woodblock prints, as well as ceramics, textiles, metal works, and the largest Ikebana flower vessel collection in the United States.

If a society can be measured by its creativity, art, and artists, Tucson makes the grade. Explore the myriad of museums to amplify your inspiration and expand your knowledge and understanding of the many forms of art preserved and displayed in the Old Pueblo.

The Makers & Creators of Tucson

Places to participate in the artsy side of the Old Pubelo

By Stacey Gregory

It could be the weather. It might be the landscapes and the sunsets. Possibly it’s the mix and blends of cultures. Whatever the reason, all types of creative artists are called to Tucson, Arizona. So, we’re celebrating a few favorites who brighten our homes and lives with their talents and tell you where you can join in the fun through classes and workshops.


An extreme close up of a Spanish tile with a bright red flower in the middle.

Santa Theresa Tile Works is a popular go-to for distinctive tile and mosaics used in businesses and residences. These colorful and brilliant tiles are handmade by artists in the workshop at the corner of Sixth Avenue and Sixth Street. Visitors are welcome to browse the beautiful showroom in the heart of the Historic Warehouse Arts District filled with tiles and Southwestern-themed gifts. Want to make your own creations? Sign up for a weekend or evening mosaic workshop or learn to make tiles in a class taught by an artist, all materials included. 404 N. 6th Ave.


A beautiful blow glass with topper.

There’s only one all-glass gallery in Southern Arizona, and it’s in Tucson — Philabaum Glass Gallery. The gallery showcases works by more than 50 nationally recognized artists from across the country. Guests are treated to glass vases, paperweights, platters, stemware, contemporary sculpture, unique gifts, and artful jewelry on display inside the more than 2,000-square-foot gallery. Philabaum Glass Gallery is located at 5 Points just south of downtown. 711 S. 6th Ave.


A hand is holding a piece of colorful blown glass.

Sonoran Glass School is sparking creativity in people of all ages through the wonders of glass art at the only full-service, nonprofit glass arts education organization in the Desert Southwest. Everyone is encouraged to create and appreciate glass as a visual arts medium through educational courses, visiting artist seminars, events, and more. Four studios, each dedicated to a different glass art medium or skill, offer private lessons or workshops in furnace glassblowing, soft and borosilicate glass torchworking, glass kiln-fusing, and coldworking led by gifted glass art instructors. Proceeds support the education and advancement of glass art and glass artists in Southern Arizona. 633 W. 18th St.


A room filled with art including sculptures on display and paintings on the wall.

The Southern Arizona Arts Guild (SAAG) provides a forum for artists to study, share, and show their artwork. Composed of painters, sculptors, and creators of all manner of fine art, SAAG welcomes seasoned and new artists and those interested in the arts. You can find all kinds of local artists’ work, including original oil, watercolors, colored pencils, scratch-board wall art, pottery, jewelry, photography, glassworks, ceramics, textiles, greeting cards, and prints. Moreover, SAAG offers a variety of public art classes held in the backroom of the SAAG Gallery at La Encantada. Classes are taught by members and are usually beginner friendly, mostly with materials provided in the cost of admission. 2905 E. Skyline Dr.


A handcrafted vase with two handles.

The Tucson Clay Co-op is a community-based cooperative providing a professional working environment for clay and ceramic artists of all skill levels. Visiting potters rent space, and guests can purchase their wares at the gallery. Budding potters can explore the ceramic arts through workshops with guest artists and a diverse selection of clay classes for adults and children, including wheel throwing, hand building, and sculpture. 3326 N. Dodge Blvd.


A women in a yellow costume with wacky hair holds a tiny umbrella.

The Southern Arizona Arts & Cultural Alliance (SAACA) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating, preserving, and advancing the arts to strengthen the bonds between people, place, and purpose  through collaborative, arts-driven experiences. In fact, many art festivals and community events around Southern Arizona are organized by SAACA. Guests can join in the fun at CATALYST Collaborative Arts & Maker Space, SAACA’s creative community space located in the Tucson Mall, where special events, fundraisers, seminars, presentations, art experiences, social gatherings, and more are hosted year-round. 4500 N. Oracle Rd., Ste. 110


A wooden box with a tree engraved on it sits on a table with the lid askew.

Xerocraft is Tucson, Arizona’s local maker space, hackerspace, and public workshop. The collection of scientists, engineers, tradespeople, artists, and hobby enthusiasts come together to learn, collaborate, teach, create, and socialize. Visitors will find an array of shops, including wood, metal, laser cutting, jewelry, electronics, and more. Workshops and classes are regularly offered, teaching anything from how to use a welder or 3D printer to how to make a bracelet or set pendants. 101 W. 6th St.


A brick wall covered in paintings.

You never know what you’ll find at the Steinfeld Warehouse Community Arts Center. The collection of art studios, galleries, and shops is located in Tucson’s downtown historic Warehouse Arts District. It makes an excellent venue for live music, visual art exhibitions, theater performances, readings by poets and authors, open studios, and art classes. 101 W. 6th St.


People are gathered at a gallery talking.

What began as a tenants’ association of artists is now the Central School Project (CSP), a nonprofit arts and cultural center in Bisbee, Arizona. Not only does the project preserve the historic Central School building as a cultural center, but it’s also been adapted into an affordable creative space for working artists. CSP provides a broad array of arts programming, including art exhibits, performance art, poetry readings, plays, concerts, dance performances, film events, and children’s workshops to the local community and Bisbee visitors. 143 Howell Ave., Bisbee

Get and Give Greetings of Tucson

By Stacey Gregory

Send a touch of Tucson to your family and friends across the country and around the world with greeting cards by Yours Truly Notecards. The colorful, fun, and fabulous collections feature famous icons and oddities found around Tucson. Choose from the likes of the Paul Bunyan-like lumberjack statue on Stone Ave. and Glenn St., the huge Tiki head that sits out front of The Hut on Fourth Avenue, and the neon saguaro sign on Oracle Road. The florals and landscapes collection features a variety of vibrant flora found in the desert southwest.

Yours Truly Notecards also partners with local charities to create limited-edition notecards, with 100% of all the proceeds going directly to support nonprofits, including Youth on Their Own and Ben’s Bells. What’s more, this family-owned business showcases the work of other Southern Arizona artists who donate a design for a limited-edition card with proceeds benefiting their local charity of choice.

Each card is the creation of Enrique Aldana. The amateur photographer started his side hustle at the urging of his daughter Sophie. Notecards, stickers, and puzzles are available online, with greeting cards for sale at Barrio Books, Bookmans Entertainment Exchange, Chris Bubany’s Artist Gallery, Hotel McCoy, Ignite Sign Art Museum, Sona Tortilla y Bodega, Tucson Museum of Art, and the Tucson Botanical Gardens.

Saddle Up For a Wild Ride Through History

By Stacey Gregory

Step back in time to the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum located on the historic Tucson Rodeo grounds. Don’t let the name fool you; this museum is jam-packed with artifacts celebrating Tucson’s diverse culture and offers way more than meets the eye.

For starters, one of the buildings is the original airplane hangar for the first municipal airport in the US. Instead of aircraft, the structure holds more than 20 horse-drawn vehicles, some used in movies, including Arizona, McClintock, and Oklahoma!, plus other rodeo and Tucson historical artifacts from as far back as the 1800s.

Volunteer docents lead tours throughout the four packed buildings, dropping knowledge, such as where the terms “backseat driver,” “glove box,” and “dashboard” originated and how wagons played an important part in the design of cars, from Rolls Royces to Chevrolets.

A model steam locomotive diorama of Tucson inside a display at the Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum.

The fully functioning ‘G’ gauge model steam locomotive.

Other displays feature the original El Conquistador hotel desk and safe, recreated blacksmith and wagon shops, saddle and harness collections, and an exact-model replica of the actual locomotive at the Southern Arizona Transportation Museum located at the former Southern Pacific Depot in downtown Tucson. Thanks to the generosity of the Tucson Garden Railway Society, guests can interact with the fully functioning ‘G’ gauge model steam locomotive, cars, and a diorama typifying what Tucson would have looked like soon after the first trains appeared in 1880.

The Tucson Rodeo Parade Museum is open from November 10, 2022, through April 1, 2023.

Meet the Sculptor: Gerald “Jerry” Rockwell

By Stacey Gregory

By day, Jerry Rockwell is a lab technician performing quality control and destructive testing for roof coatings, but his nights and weekends are dedicated to his passion—sculpting. Growing up in Tucson, he tried the artform from time to time as a way to give gifts to his family. His sister cherished his creations, so when one broke, she bought him the soapstone so he’d make her a new piece.

“I never pursued sculpting until 2017 when my sister commissioned me to replace a piece I had made for her,” says Rockwell. “I had not touched a chisel in years, but I picked it back up and created Kelpe. My wife and family insisted I continue.”

Since that fateful request, Rockwell has been sculpting out of his backyard studio. His favorite type of work is abstract, where he takes a stone and finds the image within it before bringing it to life.

“It’s like when you lay in a field and stare into the sky and see shapes in the clouds. Sometimes all of the creative work is already done for me. I follow the shape of the stone, removing the excess until the final artwork is revealed,” says Rockwell. “The designs are often a surprise to me. Sometimes I will stare at a stone for days. My wife sometimes joked with me, asking if I was staring at a rock. I’d say, ‘Yes. Yes, I am!’”

He can sculpt just about any stone, including marble, calcite, chlorite, and some onyx, but his favorite material is alabaster. He notes it’s softer than marble and available in various colors and visual textures. Some are even translucent, allowing light to pass through them, so the stone glows.

“Alabaster is not an outdoor stone because the color will fade. But putting them on display inside where they can get light once a day is just amazing,” he says. “I am still developing my style. As an artist, I think that is a constant. Right now, I like to do pieces that portray motion. I have been working on several designs, which show motion and seem organic, but still maintain an edge that shows the stone as it was before sculpting it.”

You can find his popular motion designs and the occasional dragon at Arizona art galleries, including Toscana Gallery, Oro Valley; On the Edge Contemporary Gallery, Tubac; and Anticus Gallery, Scottsdale. He also has his work on display in Tulsa, OK.

Puff, Puff, Paint at Arte Bella on 4th Ave

By Stacey Gregory

You can take your artistic side to all new highs at Arte Bella on Fourth Avenue. This “bring-your-own-bud” business is the first 420-friendly art studio, bar, and restaurant in the Old Pueblo. Thanks to Prop 207, guests are welcome to vape and dab inside the venue, or smoke joints, blunts, and bongs on the patio.

A woman holds up her blacklight painting that glows in an art studio lit by blacklight.

A blacklight painting class at Arte Bella on 4th Ave

Two kiosks stand in the entryway connecting patrons to The Downtown Dispensary, located a six-minute walk away at 6th Street and 6th Avenue. In the art studio, you can paint on your own or join in the classes, including puff and paint, acrylic pour, wine glass painting, wood workshop, string art, wake and bake mimosas, and blacklight painting—“art-tenders” stand by to offer assistance. There is no fee to use the studio space; class costs cover everything required to create your masterpiece.

Consider the full-service bar and restaurant on-site, and Arte Bella is a one-stop shop for girls’ nights, date nights, and group outings. Drinks are inspired by artists like Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe. Others are inspired by art. The popular Starry Night cocktail literally sparkles. The full menu offers tasty dishes such as Quesotacos (the birria are a top seller), birria ramen, and Sonoran quesadilla. Vegan offerings include tofu ceviche, Sonoran tofu dog, and Jen’s grown-up grilled cheese.  Plus, you can come here for brunch and keep an eye out for events featuring live music, comedy, and more.

Chain Reaction

A how-to guide to cycling Tucson’s award-winning Chuck Huckelberry Loop

By Robert Gibson

There is nothing quite like the desert at dawn. Getting out of bed, fed, dressed, and out the door to ride is the proverbial race before the race. Even though Tucson’s midday temperatures can be unrelenting, the early mornings are wondrous. There is something very satisfying about being on the bike before the sun peeks over the mountains. I am fortunate that I live about one-and-a-half miles from The Chuck Huckelberry Loop, named after the Pima County Administrator that oversaw its construction. This asphalt network follows along the banks of the city’s waterways, circumnavigating busy Tucson streets for 131 miles, and is affectionately referred to as The Loop by locals.

The Anatomy of The Loop

When I say waterways, I mean that metaphorically. These rivers only flow during abundant monsoon deluges now. Their banks are the bedrock for the asphalt that encompasses The Loop. The main or “inner” route of The Loop follows the Rillito River Path on the north side, the Pantano River Path and Harrison Greenway on the east side, the Julian Wash Greenway on the south side, and the Santa Cruz River Path on the east side. Along certain sections, mainly the Santa Cruz and the Rillito, there is a path on both sides of the river bank. But be mindful as you’ll need to cross over at certain locations.

The Loop itself is a figurative loop; it’s more of a rhombus or trapezoid. The complete inner route is 54 flattish miles and can be ridden clockwise or counterclockwise. If ridden clockwise, you’re looking at about 700 feet of elevation gain. If ridden counter-clockwise, it’s around 900 feet of elevation. Each direction has a slightly different vibe predicated primarily on how and when you want to finish the uphill sections and, vis-á-vis, your starting point.

What the Tucson area lacks in a cross-town freeway, it makes up for with The Loop. The vast majority of its miles are tarmac uninterrupted by car traffic or stop lights. There are a few instances of road crossings and venturing out onto surface streets. However, you’ll be able to maintain a steady clip as you’ll fly under most major roads for the lion’s share of the route. Signage, directions, and mileage are abundant, easily facilitating orientation, staying on course, and managing time constraints.

Loop Routes to Ride

There are vestigial sections of The Loop that extend farther north and south, primarily along the Santa Cruz River Park. The most significant is the Cañada Del Oro River Park (CDO). The CDO peels off the inner loop at the northwest corner and proceeds northeast along the western flank of the Santa Catalina Mountains. This section heads uphill (+500 feet; .8% grade) for 11 miles and affords stunning views of the rock formations that comprise the northern slopes of the Santa Catalina Mountains.

My favorite route starts at a popular midtown location at Brandi Fenton Memorial Park, located at the intersection of Alvernon Road and Dodge Boulevard. Riding clockwise, you’ll cycle upward for the first 18 miles along the Rillito River Park, Pantano River Park, and Harrison Greenway (+510 feet of elevation; +.6% grade). After that, you are treated to a downward slope for the next 26 miles along the Julian Wash Greenway and Santa Cruz River Park (-680 feet of elevation; -.5% grade). The route concludes on 10 miles of false-flat Rillito River Park back to Brandi Fenton Memorial Park. The benefit of rolling clockwise is that most of the uphill work is completed early, and numerous corners and chicanes exist on the Julian Wash Greenway.

Rolling counterclockwise, you’ll go downhill for the first 10 miles on the Rillito River Park before hitting the 26-mile uphill section from the Santa Cruz River Park and Julian Wash Greenway to the Harrison Greenway on the southeast side. After that, you are treated to a 17-mile downhill dash along the Harrison Greenway, Pantano River, and Rillito River back to Brandi Fenton Memorial Park. The benefit of this direction is that the last 17 miles face the Santa Catalina Mountains, the crown jewel of natural beauty in Tucson.

Herein lies the charm and utility of The Loop: its predictability. The Loop can be whatever ride you want or need it to be, especially if you are riding solo.

Where Recreationists and Cycling’s Masochistic Elite Meet

The Loop is a multi-use path. As such, the list of “pathletes” is lengthy. There will be parents teaching their kids how to ride. Kids showing their parents how to ride. Weekend warriors and cycling’s crème de la crème (especially in the winter) training for their next big race. Human-powered machines of all manner and configurations. Hand-cyclists, recumbents, and the occasional aerodynamic-research- project-inspired fully enclosed bicycle. You’ll witness bipedal modality of all sorts, from your leisurely morning dog-walker all the way up to various luminaries of the endurance pantheon. This variety makes the people-watching aspect of The Loop second-to-none.

You will cross paths with people on all modes of self-propelled transportation at varying speeds and skill levels. Some are commuting to work, some are chasing fitness, and some are exorcizing the day’s anxieties. I feel that, especially if I am the more experienced cyclist, it is my responsibility to ride cautiously and predictably, especially in the more congested areas.

When you’re using The Loop, be communicative. Throw a smile, a wave, a couple dings of your bell, or a friendly “coming up on your left” when encountering others. A little extra courtesy can go miles (pun fully intended).

The other benefit of The Loop’s utility is getting you to and from other rides. Have an itch to tackle the world-class climb that is Mt. Lemmon (25 miles; 5,300 ft. of climbing)? Get off The Loop at the Tanque Verde bridge and head east.

I asked a friend if they had a favorite part of The Loop. They responded, “This right here. You can do a little bit of ‘this’ (gesturing with their head down, mimicking a hard effort) and a little bit of ‘this’ (gesturing with their hand going back-and-forth between us).” So, whether you are using The Loop as a warm-up, a cool-down, a transition to a larger ride, or it is the entirety of the ride, it has something for every cyclist and occasion.

About Robert Gibson

Robert “Robb” Gibson has been riding primarily mountain bikes with some road riding since 1992. What began as a sport he tried to best his friends at became a lifelong passion he has since taught his child (on The Loop). Robb hates getting up early but loves early morning rides. His favorite road ride is Mt. Lemmon, and his preferred mountain bike ride is La Milagrosa.