El Be Goods

Southwest Style & Beauty

By Stacey Gregory

Feel good about what you buy and who you get it from at El Be Goods. This women-owned, women-run boutique offers sustainable, ethically sourced, and fair-traded apparel, accessories, home goods, beauty products, novelties, paper products, and more, with a selection of local Tucson and handmade goods as well.

“The vision of El Be Goods is to prioritize the importance of and introduce people to slow fashion. You can get sustainable fashion at an approachable price here,” said shop owner Laura Stupar.

She opened the boutique almost four years ago. While she has traveled all around, her roots are in Tucson, so she used her background in fashion to create a safe, community-driven shop. In addition to the brick-and-mortar store, you can find El Be Goods at charity events and community partnerships like the pop-up shops hosted in the Royal Room twice a year.

“We focus on making connections with people. It’s not just about converting the transaction or ringing somebody up. It’s about making personal connections with each person that comes in, whether they purchase or not, and sparking those connections.” 160 S. Avenida Del Convento, 520-372-2336

Meet the Artist: Lisa Cardenas

By Stacey Gregory

Tucson native Lisa Cardenas is best known around town as an award-winning tattoo artist, yet there’s more to the successful business owner. She’s a self-proclaimed art nerd and hardcore crafter who values social justice and elevates other artists.

Her journey to tattooing started through art. Growing up, she took art classes in school, with a dream as a teen to be an animator. She got her degree at The University of Arizona and moved out to LA, where she discovered a lifestyle that wasn’t quite right for her. So she returned to Tucson and started tattooing in 2008.


“I started tattooing because I really missed my desert home and it seemed like that was the only serious art career I could pursue in Tucson,” she said. “I landed an apprenticeship at Red Sky Studio and realized quickly that this was a very fulfilling art career.”

In her third year of tattooing, Cardenas opened Haunted Hands Studio, a small shop downtown, working solo before moving to the Metal Arts Village on Fort Lowell and Dodge. Here, she found someone to share the space with and realized she wanted to work with other artists again.

“I realized I missed working with other tattoo artists, so that was when I started hiring a couple more people,” said Cardenas. “I eventually found this place and set it up so that I could have resident artists and have room for guest artists.”

Cardenas signed the lease on her current space at 6th and 6th right when the pandemic began. While the timing was not ideal, she used it to transition, tattooing at the Metal Arts Village while she created the perfect space adorned with her personal touches.

“I wanted to create a unique space that didn’t feel like an average tattoo shop,” she said.

The two-story space features a desertscape wall mural she painted that ascends to the second floor–the sun on the mural is a vintage light fixture she made. The front desk she crafted from a bowling lane and some scrap wood, and hanging overhead is an impressive vintage lamp chandelier she built over six months while the world shut down.

“I collect vintage lamps at estate sales. I knew I wanted to hang them up there; I just didn’t know how,” said Cardenas. “I found a table, flipped it upside down, and wired everything together. It took four people to hoist it up there. Then I hung all the lamps and wired it together myself.”

Haunted Hands Studio has four artist booths plus a guest artist booth. There’s also a boutique-style shop on the first floor where local Tucson creators can sell their wares, including macrame, candles, jewelry, t-shirts, paintings, and illustrations. Many of the wares feature strong women-empowerment messages, something Cardenas feels especially proud of.

“We want to be an ally to any marginalized community. Artists see those sides of society and sympathize, whether because we’re part of it or just want to support our fellow weirdos,” she said. “I want to do my part, and I feel being a woman helps with that. I feel strength in that. It inspires me to do more, and it permeates my artwork. The fact that it speaks to other people and helps other people feel empowered; that’s a really big deal for me.”

Haunted Hands is open by appointment only, and Cardenas has plans to open the studio for shopping and hopes to host curated art exhibits.

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.

The People of Tucson: Performer Gigi Chanteuse


By Stacey Gregory

You can't miss Gigi Chanteuse. This petite  performer packs a vocal and visual punch as the front-woman for Gigi and The Glow. Arizona’s favorite dance music cover band draws a crowd at entertainment venues around Tucson, performing happy, upbeat, nostalgic music from the 50s to today’s hits, with cumbia and Latin songs sprinkled into each set.

Her passion for performing was sparked by her grandma, who would make her perform for friends. At five, she started dance classes, and at 15, her professional career began. She formed Gigi and The Glow with her husband Daniel, a seasoned drummer from Los Angeles, CA, when the pair recognized a need for high-energy dance music in Tucson. The couple also works with various musicians to perform other musical styles, including jazz.

She moved from California to Tucson in 1993, raising four children and welcoming a grandson in the Old Pueblo. While her band takes her to gigs in California and Texas and a beach home to Mexico, she’ll always take the five-hour trek to return to Tucson.

Follow Gigi Around Tucson

It should come as no surprise that a performer would seek out local theater. One of her favorites is The Gaslight Music Hall of Oro Valley, where audiences enjoy concerts and revues spanning every musical genre. Guests are treated to the finest family entertainment in Arizona, and a full menu with pizza, wings, sandwiches, salads, and a wide variety of beverages, including cocktails and milkshakes.

Outdoor adventures take Gigi to Sabino Canyon and all the hiking trails found in Southern Arizona. She also enjoys the Omni Tucson National Resort golf course that hosts PGA tournaments and The Westin La Paloma Resort golf courses, noting they’re not only a great place to play golf but also for walking.

Plus, Tucson is known for bike riding. It is the home to one of the premier bicycling events in the country—El Tour de Tucson—that has been part of the community for nearly four decades and welcomes more than 7,000 cyclists annually.

“We performed for them, and it was so much fun. El Tour de Tucson is a tradition here, and we were very honored to do that,” says Gigi.

Tucson is also home to The Chuck Huckelberry Loop, recently voted Number 1 on USA Today’s 2022 “10 Best Reader’s Choice List” for Best Recreational Trail. The 131-mile loop connects the communities of Tucson, Oro Valley, South Tucson, and Marana and provides a safe place to walk, bike, skate, and even ride a horse.

“Riding those bike trails, you’ll see so much beauty. The Tucson desert has so much breathtaking scenery, especially during monsoon season when everything turns green and pops with color. It’s a work of art, like tapestries that unfold overnight,” says Gigi.

Finally, she can’t say enough about the sunrises and the sunsets. When you’re in Tucson, look to the sky for a real treat.

“I grew up in California, and I love California, but there’s nothing like Tucson. The weather here is amazing, and the sunsets are the most beautiful you’ll ever see,” she says.


“Where can I begin? Everything is good here!” says Gigi. “I’m not a big eater, and I love that in the last five years, Tucson now has more and more vegan venues and menus.”

Of course, St. Philips Plaza is high on her list; Gigi and The Glow regularly perform on the patio surrounded by Proof Artisanal Pizza & Pasta, Reforma Modern Mexican, and Union Public House. Guests can choose to dine on handcrafted artisanal pizza and house-made pasta, authentic Mexican food with a modern and playful twist on fresh local ingredients, and made-from-scratch American fare using local and sustainable ingredients. Each restaurant serves clever libations and is a happy hour and brunch staple.

“I could go on and on; Tucson is packed with delicious restaurants. Tavolino Ristorante Italiano and Wild Garlic Grill in the Foothills are some of my favorites. Another is HiFalutin, and inside the Westin La Paloma Resort & Spa is Azul Restaurant. Not to mention all the Mexican food; there are just so many options here,” says Gigi.

The People of Tucson: Public TV Executive & Notecard Creator Enrique Aldana


By Stacey Gregory

Originally from Guadalajara, Mexico, Enrique Aldana immigrated to New York State when his mother remarried. He was five when he arrived and was enrolled in kindergarten without speaking English. Bullied in school, his haven was watching shows like Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers, and The Electric Company on PBS. He credits the shows with helping him learn American culture and the language. At 12, the family relocated to Tucson, Arizona, where he graduated from Amphitheater High School and began a career.

His then-girlfriend-now-wife encouraged him to continue his education. At age 28, Aldana enrolled in the Eller School of Business at The University of Arizona—earning his degree in three years and becoming a sales manager at Tucson Newspapers, Inc. Life was good, but it was going to get better.

Aldana had two daughters by now, and his wife, Katie, volunteered at their school. As fate would have it, their daughter’s teacher was married to Jack Gibson, CEO of Arizona Public Media, Tucson’s PBS station and NPR radio licensed through The University of Arizona. He took a chance and asked for an introduction to Jack as a resource for job opportunities. The meeting paid off: Aldana received an offer to join the very organization that gave him comfort as a child. Today he is the senior director of development at Arizona Public Media and won the Association for Fundraising Professionals "Outstanding Fundraising Executive" for 2021.

“I grew up watching public media; it gave me a strong foundation to succeed. I get to pay it forward for people who want to continue to learn or have children who need a safe place to watch quality educational television,” he says.

Tucson Through Aldana's Lens

Not only does Aldana connect to his community through public media, but he also creates notecards. At his daughter Sophie’s encouragement, he started Yours Truly Notecards, marrying his passion for photography with the city he loves. Many of his notecards feature the Tucson landscape and the charm of the Southwest.

“People don’t realize that The University of Arizona has a beautiful botanical garden open to the public. It’s a hidden gem where you can walk around campus enjoying hundreds of species of plants,” says Aldana.

The UA Campus Arboretum houses plants from arid and semi-arid climates around the world. In-person guided tours start at The University of Arizona Memorial Fountain. Tours range from Arboretum History to Sonoran Native Plants, each tour lasting 60–90 minutes.

Aldana recommends Agua Caliente Park, a lake area with spring-fed ponds and ducks, herons, turtles, and fish.

“This is a great place to spend time with family and have a picnic. You’ll feel like you aren’t in Tucson anymore it’s so green,” he says.

He also says to explore Mt. Lemmon, an hour from Tucson. The peak of Mt. Lemmon is the highest in the Santa Catalina Mountains at 9,171 feet. The temperature there averages 30° cooler than in the valley, offering a respite from the desert heat, complete with tall trees, brooks, and streams. Hikers, rock climbers, campers, cyclists, and skiers flock here.


“Tucson is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy, so there is no shortage of delicious food here,” says Aldana.

His favorite restaurants include The Little One and Boca Tacos y Tequila. The Little One is a Tucson staple and has been around since the 80s, serving healthy and authentic Mexican food for breakfast and lunch in a little space in downtown Tucson. Boca Tacos offers authentic Sonoran Mexican cuisine developed by the founder, owner, and award-winning executive chef, Maria Mazon.

“The Little One is tiny, quaint, loud, colorful, and delicious. I never order the same thing twice. Bring cash here, and be prepared to get a hug with your dish,” says Aldana. “At Boca Tacos each of Maria Mazon’s salsas taste unique and imaginative. The flavors she creates are a taste explosion in your mouth. You must try them all.”

Of all the places to get great food in Tucson, the ultimate for Aldana is not a restaurant at all but a food truck. For more than 25 years, El Manantial Tacos Y Hotdogs has served Tucson from the corner of 36th Street and Park Avenue.

“I’ve been eating their burritos, hot dogs wrapped in bacon, and quesadillas for at least 20 years. I even had them cater my 50th birthday party; they pulled right up in my front yard,” he says.