Art flourishes in the desert.
At the Tubac Art Festival, streets are closed to traffic, excepting horse drawn wagons, and tents are being set up while parking attendants put on their lime colored jackets and sunscreen.
Two of the parking lots are already full of cars by ten thirty, and, in the third lot, sightseers are getting their shoes dusty walking across dirt fields towards the Art Festival. Tubac is festive and shows us old and new restaurants, galleries, gift shops, restaurants, bars, white tents sheltering festival exhibitors.
Tubac is off Highway 19, between Tucson and Nogales, and, according to my brother Alan, who was here some years ago, looks different than it was.
” None of that was here, ” he remarks and points at a cluster of retail shops, each one trying to attract buyers with signs and special sales.
February is a prime time of the year for retailers here and a proprietor shows us his hand woven rugs from around the world as we zip into his shop to look at western artifacts.
” Is it hard to make it here in the summer, ” I ask?
The man squints a bit as if he were outside in a spotlight sun.
” We do the best we can, ” he says, ” you have to be adaptable. ”
This annual festival will draw thousands and some will buy. Most will look, socialize, eat, deal with parking and logistics, take pictures and enjoy the event.
Art, for me, is always a festival.
I buy something small by a Chinese man who does watercolors of goldfish and I bet the ones he drew, and filled in with color, were part of his dinner last night..
Art, in the East, is as far from cowboys and Indians as you can get.