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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Charles Mingus Hometown Music Festival in Nogales, Az

Here is one of my most recent articles. I'm really excited about this festival. I think it's a great thing for the community here.

   On April 22nd 1922, a musical legend was brought into this world right here in Nogales, Arizona. The man was Charles Mingus, a famous Jazz composer and musician, and he was born on Camp Little where his father was stationed at the time. Mingus was and is still considered to have been equal or at least nearly equal to Duke Ellington due to the immense musical talent they both possessed.

Prior to 1993, there was nothing that was happening locally to commemorate this iconic figure. That was when the first Charles Mingus Festival was organized.
This year from April 20-22 The Mingus Project presents the Charles Mingus Hometown Music Festival. The three day event begins Friday the 20th at 7 p.m. with a concert in Nogales, Sonora at the Teatro Auditorio, where internationally know jazz musician Claudio Roditi will perform.
This will be followed up on Saturday morning at 10 a.m. with the ground breaking of the new Charles Mingus Memorial Park on the corner of Bejarano and Western Ave. The park, which will be privately funded, will be designed not only as a memorial for Mingus, but a place where small jazz groups can put on performances and other works of art can be displayed. “This is the beginning;” says Mayor Arturo Garino, “the beginning of a public art and historic site for Charles Mingus.” Mayor Garino with a selected group of students will build a mosaic to go on the 8-foot wall that will serve as the backdrop for the stage. Recessed lighting will be installed to illuminate the park and its artwork for all to see, even at night.
Following the ground breaking, the festivities will begin at the Safeway parking lot on Grand Ave. Here a series of free concerts will be put on by a number of bands and musical groups, including some local bands, including the Nogales High School Jazz Band, the Borderline 7 Dixieland Band, Vale Middle School, a group of students from both Coatimundi and Calabasas Middle Schools in Rio Rico, and much more.
Professional Jazz artists Dom Moio and Barb Catlin will also be performing. From 1 to 3 will be a Latin percussion performance and clinic for those interested in the lobby of Super 8 Motel. At the festival will also be several vendors there to sell snacks, drinks, and memorabilia.
On the evening of Saturday the 21st there will be a concert at the James K. Clark Performing Arts Center at Nogales High School. Here the award winning Tucson Jazz Institute’s Ellington Big Band will perform along with special guest Sy Johnson(who had the pleasure of working with Charles Mingus while he was alive). The Big Band Sounds of Green Valley will also be performing with guest Blues singer, Barbara Morrison.
The festival will end with a brunch on Sunday morning from 10 to noon at the Esplendor Resort in Rio Rico to celebrate Mingus’s birthday.
For tickets for the concerts or to find out more about The Mingus Project and the Charles Mingus Festival you can go online to
You can also purchase tickets at La Cinderella on Mariposa, the Rio Rico Chevron, the Nogales Chamber of Commerce, Global Arts in Patagonia, or the National Bank of Arizona in Sonoita. VIP tickets are also available for the Saturday night concert at NHS.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Inspiring Artistic Talent in SCC

Many believe that there is an artist in everyone in one form or another. A musician, a poet, sculptor, or maybe a painter. If there is a place in Santa Cruz County that will bring out your artistic side, that place is Niko’s at 1147 W Frontage Rd in Rio Rico. Although it may not look like much from the outside, once a customer enters, the world transforms into a surreal artistic dream decorated with incredible art, and stocked with just about anything one needs for gifts, special occasions, and art supplies.
Niko's Art Class Student
Niko’s is not just any other art supply/novelty gift shop though. Along with everything on the shelf, the shop also doubles as a gallery for several local artists(not all art is for sale). The art on display ranges from paintings hanging from the walls, to detailed tile mosaic sculptures and vases. There is even an incredible display of paintings by the talented daughter of shop owner, Lupita Munguia.
One of the main aspects of Niko’s is of course the art supplies. There they have everything any aspiring artist needs to start exploring the artist inside. Whether your passion is water coloring, acrylic, sketch, or even finger painting, Niko’s has it for all ages.
Even if you’re not planning on being the next world famous artist to come out of SCC, Niko’s may still have just what you need. Along with the vast selection of art supplies, there is also a wide variety of gift supplies and décor items for special occasions, including flower arrangements and corsages. They also have great gifts and décor to help you commemorate any special occasion in your life, whether it’s a wedding, communion, or baptism. Niko’s has nearly everything you can get in Tucson with the benefit of being local. If it’s not something they have in stock, they’ll be sure to order it for you.
Niko’s also offers a number of services to their customers. Services like gift wrapping, canvas stretching, etc. They even offer photography services for all your special occasions, and during holidays they even have Santa and the Easter Bunny come to visit so that children can get their pictures taken with them.
Perhaps the service that Munguia and staff are most proud of is the framing service that they offer. In the back, behind the sales floor and gallery area is the work shop where they will frame just about anything you want. Artists and galleries from all over the country have turned to Niko’s, putting their trust in them to care for and complete their works of art. Even a number of local businesses and government agencies go to Niko’s to get their certificates and other important documentation framed.
Aside from photos, and artwork, the staff at Niko’s will also frame your collectors items or any memory you want to preserve and display. If the item(s) is too big to fit in a conventional frame, they will build and frame a display box for you to keep it in. And they always add their own personal touch that completes the whole thing. A great example of this is demonstrated through one customer’s experience.
A gentleman had a proud moment with his son that he wanted to hold onto. His son had just gotten his first hole in one on the golf course. The gentleman brought everything that he felt captured the event; the golf ball, the tee, the scorecard, and a photo of his son standing triumphantly over the hole where he sunk the ball. He asked if they could frame it, and not too long after it was ready for display, now enclosed inside a solid, attractive shadow box.
One of the most important things offered by Niko’s is art lessons for kids. It’s a great opportunity for children to explore their talents and express their creativity while enriching their education. “It inspires the kids,” says Munguia. “It opens their minds.” For the first few sessions, all supplies are provided for the child until they begin to discover their own style and become their own artists. According to Munguia, the child’s perception begins to change.
What to many is just a flower, the children start to see as art, observing all the details, and what use to be red, blue, green, etc., becomes an infinite number color variations. It is true that all of this can be found at other places too, but Niko’s has the experience, the personal touch, and is close by. They will gladly cater to your needs, and will always provide a friendly, personal experience to everyone that walks through the door. You may walk in a customer, but you will leave as a friend.