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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Rodeo and southwestern art celebrated at festival

    Savannah Douglas / The Daily Wildcat Bernard Fierro displays his art of two horses on his ranch. The art piece is titled “Friends” and will be featured at the Rodeo Day Arts Celebration on Sunday at Plaza Polimono.

    The fourth annual Rodeo Day Arts Celebration commemorates local artists, musicians and traditions based on rodeo and Southwestern culture.

    RDAC will feature the works of more than 40 artists who use Southwestern themes, including fine art, metal, glass, ceramics, leather and wood mediums.

    Susan French said she started RDAC because she believed Tucson had room for something to celebrate its rodeo, art and music cultures as well as its “beautiful architecture.”

    Although many events are centered around the renowned rodeo taking place during the weekend, French’s aspiration was to create an event that will “promote creative people and give them the opportunity to showcase their talent.”

    Throughout the day, Ruben Moreno’s Mariachi Herradura, Arizona Dance Hands and Sonoran Dogs will perform various styles of country western music.

    Artist Bernard Fierro will exhibit his oil and acrylic paintings for the first time at RDAC. His work depicts scenes from his daily life on a ranch and highlights the animals and the environment.

    Fierro said he is exhibiting his pieces at RDAC because he believes the themes from his work directly relate to the rodeo and will allow those interested to “share in [his] lifestyle.”

    “It shows you what ranch life really is,” said Heidi Vanderbilt, Fierro’s wife. “The rodeo is five to 10 days a year, but this is what goes on the rest of the time.”

    French chose Plaza Palomino as the location because she wants to showcase the recent $5 million renovation. The plaza used to be the place to go, she said, but it eventually fell off of the map for a lot of people. Over the past year and a half, the new owners have reinvested in the area, and French said she hopes that the RDAC will create traffic and spark renewed interest. Last year 800 people attended the event, and this year organizers project a turnout of around 1,000 people.

    Two of the restaurants located at Plaza Palomino — Vero Amore and Cafe Francais — will be open for guests to enjoy, and the BBQ Rush food truck will be there as well. Beer from Thunder Canyon and Nimbus breweries will be priced at $5 a cup, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to the Tucson Musicians Museum Mentorship Program, according to French.

    The mentorship program pairs established musicians with youth interested in music who otherwise may not have the means to pursue education in it. Since its creation in 2008, the program has sponsored around 18 of Tucson’s youth, many of whom have graduated and now are members of Ruben Moreno’s group called Mariachi Herradura. French said the founders are hoping to expand the program with the funds they receive from beer sales.

    The overall atmosphere of RDAC is intended to be lively, and guests are encouraged to get into the spirit and don Western attire.

    French hopes to add to the fun with a 1:30 p.m. “quick-draw” competition featuring former Tucson Mayor Bob Walkup and current Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild, with David Fitzsimmons, a cartoonist for the Arizona Daily Star, officiating. Fitzsimmons will have a silent auction for each drawing, and the person whose art raises the most money gets to continue on to the next round.

    The loser will be replaced by other local personalities.

    French said she hopes that at the end of the day people leave with a smile on their face and an appreciation for Tucson art.
    “What I really want to do is show off a little bit of Tucson,” said French.

    The celebration is on Sunday at Plaza Palomino from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; admission is free.

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