It's gem show time! Tucson sparkles with thousands of dealers

2013-01-24T00:00:00Z 2014-07-01T15:21:10Z It's gem show time! Tucson sparkles with thousands of dealersGerald M. Gay Ggay@azstarnet.com Arizona Daily Star
January 24, 2013 12:00 am  • 

You can't throw a rock in Tucson during the month of February without hitting someone willing to buy it. • Thousands of dealers sporting tens of thousands of specimens - everything from fossils to fluorite - will descend on the Old Pueblo in the coming weeks as the Tucson Gem, Mineral & Fossil Showcase gets under way. • The yearly gathering boasts more than 40 shows set up across the city, a bountiful buffet for fans of meteorites, minerals, precious stones, pretty beads and all that glitters like gold. • What follows are 10 must-see things to see and do during this year's festivities. / Continued on Page 24

Made in america

usaindianinfo.com

Indigenous artisans representing more than 50 tribes will be on hand for this year's American Indian Exposition at the Quality Inn Flamingo Ballroom Sunday through Feb. 17.

Looking for the perfect Tohono O'odham basket for your dad's birthday?

They've got that.

Need a portrait of your dog painted on the back of a feather?

They've got that, too.

"Among the tons of rock, barrels of stone and kilos of beads, we have this unique show with all one-of-a-kind items," said coordinator Fred Synder, director of the National Native American Co-operative, which puts on the event. "We go out and try to find the American Indian van Goghs, Picassos and Rembrandts that are keeping this 10,000-year-old culture alive."

One of the big features of this year's exposition will be a baleen basket made from the straining material of a whale's mouth and topped off with a carved ivory figurine straight from Alaska's North Slope.

Another attractive aspect is the expo's replacement American Indian seed beads from the late 1860s through World War I for sale, which can be used for the authentic restoration of Indian artifacts.

Synder said many of the artists participating at the expo will be there on a rotating schedule.

"These artisans have religious obligations and livestock," he said. "They can't get away from that for too long."

Botanical bounty

tucsonbotanical.org

When Harrison Yocum, the founder of the Tucson Botanical Gardens, died in 2010 at age 87, he left much of his furniture, his truck and other special items to his family.

The bulk of his collections, his plants, books, music and thousands of rocks and minerals, went to the gardens.

Garden coordinators hope to sell most, if not all, of Yocum's rock collection when they hold a sale on campus, Feb. 15-16.

Michael Chamberland, the gardens' director of horticulture, said the items for sale will be from Yocum's indoor and outdoor collections and will include, calcites, selenites and petrified wood among other specimens.

Hundreds of pieces will be available and will range in price from $15 to "several thousand dollars."

Chamberland said this will probably be the last time an event like this will happen at the gardens.

The event runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is free and does not require an admission fee to the park.

For those about to rock

The electronic sounds of the Gem & Jam Show return to Tucson Feb. 7-9 after a two-year hiatus.

Artists such as Michal Menert, Nit Grit, Vibesquad and The Polish Ambassador will lay down beats at a new venue for the fest, the former Farmer John meatpacking plant at 1102 W. Grant Road.

Gem & Jam founder Toby White said he took a break from holding the concert because of the down economy, but things are looking up.

"We are expecting 1,200 to 1,500 people a night this year," White said. "It is a full-on festival this time."

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Gem & Jam will be internationally acclaimed artist Alex Grey, who will be on stage painting pieces alongside other artists throughout the three-day celebration.

A three-day pass to Gem & Jam is $80. Day passes are $35 at the door. Other deals can be found gemandjamfestival.com online.

If classic rock is more your thing, try the American Gem Trade Association's Gem Jammin' fundraising concert on Feb. 7.

The event, held this year at Gentle Ben's Brewing Company, 865 E. University Blvd., will feature jewelers and dealers from across the country working their favorite instruments for a good cause.

Proceeds benefit the charitable organization, Jewelers for Children.

The event starts at 7 p.m. and admission is $10.

Africa Calling

Visiting the Tucson African Art Village during the gem show is like visiting Africa itself, if Africa was just south of The Waffle House near Interstate 10 south of West Starr Pass Boulevard.

The tent city that makes up the village at 1134 S. Farmington Road, houses more than 120 vendors selling a mix of cloth, art, beads, jewelry and drums from all over the African continent.

Village founder Charlotte Mack secured the location 11 years ago after falling in love with the wares that different African vendors brought to the gem show each year.

"I was a big fan of the art," she said. "We would visit their booths three times a day at different shows. We got to know a lot of them."

The village will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, Feb. 2-17. Admission is free. Call 869-7895 for more information.

Playful purses

thepursemuseum.com

When it comes to offering something unique and different at the Tucson gem show, Vicki Schwager has it in the bag.

Schwager will be selling items from her vintage purse collection at this year's Tucson Bead Show. The purse is an accessory that she feels is vastly under represented, but deserves some major play.

"The gem show has minerals, silver, beads, gold," said Schwager, who runs an online purse museum. "All those items can be found in purse designs."

Schwager will have about 100 purses for sale, some newer, but most dating back to the early 20th century.

She'll also have purse frames, vintage Meerschaum pipes that she has turned into necklaces and kits demonstrating how to assemble similar pieces of jewelry.

Her collection will be on display in room 109 at the Windmill Inn & Suites, 4250 N. Campbell Ave., from Feb. 5-10.

Food Truckapalooza

The 22nd Street Mineral and Fossil Show, located on the east side of Interstate 10, hopes to entice more people through its doors with a Rock & Rolling Food Truck Roundup on Feb. 8.

The evening event will feature 22 local trucks, including some of Tucson's newest mobile kitchens, Kadooks! Costa Rican Fusion and the Twisted Tandoor, which specializes in North Indian cuisine.

Tunes will be provided by the '80s and Gentlemen cover band, Hey, Bucko and the Shiraz String Quartet.

The event runs from 5-9 p.m.

The show's normal hours will be 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily Jan. 31-Feb. 17.

Space Case

Tucson's own rock star of the small screen, Geoff Notkin will have two exhibition spaces this year: a suite at the Hotel Tucson City Center InnSuites, 475 N. Granada Ave., Feb. 1-16, and a tent at the Kino Gem & Mineral Show at Kino Sports Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way, Feb. 2-17.

Notkin became a household name when his space rock show, "Meteorite Men" debuted on the Science Channel in 2010.

Both exhibits will feature meteorites and other specimens from Notkin's company, Aerolite Meteorites, as well as props and other equipment from the show.

Notkin and his show partner, Steve Arnold, will make appearances at both locations throughout the event to sign autographs and meet fans.

Fire play

www.sonoranglass.org

The Sonoran Glass School rattled some nerves when hosting its annual Flame Off glass art competition at the Rialto Theatre last year.

It was the first time the school had used the venue for the event.

"The Rialto is a historic building," said coordinator William Justiniano. "When you start bringing in oxygen tanks and torches, they start getting a little nervous."

Naturally, planners made not damaging the structure their first priority.

The fact that the building made it through unscathed meant that Flame Off could return this year.

It will be held on Feb. 8 at the Rialto, 318 E. Congress St.

About 24 glass artists, some from as far as Japan, will fill the stage and sections of the audience floor, creating elaborate works in solo and paired glass competitions.

People are welcome to observe the artists in action and bid on the works while they are being created or wait to bid on them until they are finished and on display at the Best Bead Show, Feb. 9.

Flame Off is held around the same time as the gem show because glass artists are already in town to sell their goods.

A giant screen will provide a play-by-play of all the action.

Live musical accompaniment will be provided by Satellite Freakout with food from Mr. K's Barbeque.

The event runs from 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets are $10 in advance through the Rialto box office and $15 at the door. Food will cost extra. 740-1000.

Space Case

Tucson's own rock star of the small screen, Geoff Notkin will have two exhibition spaces this year: a suite at the Hotel Tucson City Center InnSuites, 475 N. Granada Ave., Feb. 1-16, and a tent at the Kino Gem & Mineral Show at Kino Sports Complex, 2500 E. Ajo Way, Feb. 2-17.

Notkin became a household name when his space rock show, "Meteorite Men" debuted on the Science Channel in 2010.

Both exhibits will feature meteorites and other specimens from Notkin's company, Aerolite Meteorites, as well as props and other equipment from the show.

Notkin and his show partner, Steve Arnold, will make appearances at both locations throughout the event to sign autographs and meet fans.

The rainbow connection

tgms.org

Fluorite is the theme of this year's Tucson Gem and Mineral Show at the Tucson Convention Center Feb. 14-17.

As far as minerals go, fluorite isn't all that uncommon, says Gloria Quigg, publicity chair for the event.

But it is colorful.

"You can get beautiful pinks, golden yellows, deep purples and very pale lavenders," she said. "Just about every color of the rainbow."

More than 40 fluorite displays will be on exhibit at the show, including the 450-pound "Weardale Giant," which was extracted from an open pocket in County Durham, England last year and contains hundreds of fluorite crystals.

About 20,000 people visit the Tucson Gem and Mineral Show annually, making it one of the showcase's premier events. It's also the show that started it all back in 1955.

It runs from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Feb. 14-16 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Feb. 17.

Admission is $10, with discounts available. Check out the The Tucson Gem and Mineral Society's website, tgms.org for information about exhibits, lectures and more.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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