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Sa.war.o Now on Display at Tucson International Airport

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Sa.war.o Now on Display at Tucson International Airport


      The stately Saguaro, the iconic form that distinguishes Tucson from almost every other city in the world, is celebrated in a new exhibit currently on display at Tucson International Airport in the Lower Link Gallery through June 11, 2010.

      Carnegiea gigantea is native to the Sonoran Desert that extends from Tucson south into the state of Sonora, Mexico. The common name, Saguaro, originated in the language of the Tohono O'odham Native American Nation. While many people pronounce the "g" when saying the name Saguaro, it's "g" is silent and is pronounced (sa- WAR- o).

      This exhibit features work of local artists Diane Davis, Tessa Davis, Pam Davidson, Valerie Galloway, Mark Garris, Howard Paley, Joe Patronite, Naomi Spitzer, and Jack Wennstrom.

      Diane Davis's small paintings show the saguaro in a simple urban setting, while photographer Tessa Davis' black and white and digitally enhanced color images focus on fields of the giant guardian in the desert.

     Ms. Davis says, "Some 40 years ago, instead of choosing books to read, I sat on the floor next to the librarian looking at photos through the lens of a 3-D viewer. I requested them so often, the librarian used to mark my spot in the box of photos for the next time I visited the library."

Desert Diva

      Pam Davidson's ( brightly colored acrylic paintings emphasize the outline of the plant and are filled with multiple colors and patterns. Using bold colors punctuated with dots her images include decorative borders on recycled frames.

      Valerie Galloway ( is a painter and photographer. Her small, toned gelatin silver prints in leaded frames evoke a sense of age and dreamy nostalgia. Some of the images are positioned on either side of small mirrors, creating a triptych effect.

      Mark Garris' paintings depict western characters working among saguaros in a desert landscape.

      A series of images by Howard Paley showcase fields of saguaros photographed in color, black and white, during the night and in bright sunlight.

     Mr. Paley recalls thumbing the pages of National Geographic, Life, Look, and Newsweek magazines. "They brought the world into focus for me and whet my appetite for photography. The orange sands, expansive plateaus, towering cliffs, and canyon passages call to me. I strive to capture the spirit of these landscapes in my photographs."

The Crested King

      Photographer Joe Patronite's ( work explores the final stage of the life of a saguaro as it decays, the ribs.

     Mr. Patronite traveled the world on advertising, editorial and corporate assignments. A three-time nominee for the Pulitzer Prize, he has won awards in every area of advertising, communications, and journalism.

     Naomi Spitzer exhibits "The Crested King" featuring the fascination of a saguaro-flawed growth.

     "Nature's beauty and variety is an inspiration ... I was intrigued by the ribbon-like folds of the 'crest' of this saguaro. This rare species of saguaro forms crests instead of arms," she explains.


   Dividing his time between Ajo, Arizona, and Oregon, Jack Wennstrom?s ( watercolor paintings, framed with driftwood, present the saguaro among rocks and cliffs in a traditional rural desert environment.



The temporary exhibits program at Tucson International Airport is open to artists living in the airport's trade area: Pima, Pinal, Cochise, Santa Cruz Counties in Arizona and Sonora, Mexico. Since the Authority initiated this community outreach program in 1991, it has hosted exhibits by hundreds of artists in the region. Details about the Tucson Airport Authority Arts & Culture Program can be found at