Here I was expecting Tucson to be a hard sell, and the type of town I would feel most alien too. But no, if anything, I felt most comfortable here. Tucsonians are generous, beautiful, creative and friendly people. If you want to feel welcome, come here.
Reception of the Selected 3 programme at Exploded View Gallery was exceptional; applause after each film, whistles, appreciative laughter, sighs – everything in compliment. I was over the moon by the end with a deeply embedded grin on my face.
The screening was followed by interested questions; all the films were talked about, again Sophie Beresford’s Making Adidas Mermaid got attention – loved very much. Lots of curiosity about Cheryl Simmons’ film What are you doing man? They’re cooking my men like sausages. A glorious collage piece that examines reinterpretation and memory.
Exploded View is unique in Tucson; opportunities to show artists’ film and experimental work rely on Rebecca and David’s commitment to the gallery, which is an inspirational example. The University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography is worth checking out (the archive gets shown off to the public every Friday), and, off the arts track, there is also the Laboratory of Tree-Ring Research, a superb department for those interested in dendrochronology.
Tucson also has an amazing desert surrounding it, with huge Saguaro cacti soaring into the sky, perched on the mountain slopes like armies of headless triffids. I was driven into the desert by Carl Hanni, a devoted Tucsonian, who generously took me on a hike to see the Saguaros, desert sunset and endless mountainous landscape.
I leave Tucson with a heavy heart, but with eyes set on LA for Echo Park Film Center and to see some good friends.