Q&A: Route 66's History, in Photos

Terrence Moore's new book is "66 ON 66: A Photographer's Journey." Scroll down to see photos from the book. | Courtesy of Terrence Moore

In its prime, Historic Route 66 served as a main vein of travel from east to west in the United States. For decades, millions of travelers and tourists took this scenic, eclectic road to get to their destinations, stopping at the many colorful motels, shops and diners along the way. A lot has changed in the route’s 92 years, but many continue to be captivated by the road and its history.

Photographer Terrence Moore has been fascinated with the Mother Road for as long as he can remember. For more than 40 years, he’s been photographing the road from Missouri to Arizona, capturing its evolution on film. In his new book, 66 ON 66: A Photographer’s Journey, he selected 66 of his favorite images he’s made over the years and put them together in a never-before-seen collection.

We recently spoke with Moore to learn more about his new book and what he sees in the future for the iconic route. (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

Tell our readers about yourself and about your history with Route 66.
When I was 9 years old, my family moved from Minnesota to California. On our drive we actually got on Route 66 in Tucumcari, and having never been out West before, I have all these vivid memories of the trip. When we got to California, we moved to a town called Claremont and we lived just off of Route 66. Then I went to high school on it. In later years, after I got out of college, I moved to Albuquerque and I lived about a half a block off of Route 66; that’s when I actually started seriously photographing it. So it’s kind of just been part of me for most of my life. It was something I was interested in doing, and I just continued doing it over time. I got a few magazine assignments along the way, and that inspired me, too. Next thing you know, it’s 48 years later!

What inspired you to make your new book?
Having grown up in Southern California in that era, it was really a beautiful place to be: a quintessential small college town with citrus groves surrounding it. When I lived there in my formative years, I basically watched the groves disappear before my eyes, and they were mostly replaced with tract housing. It was a really hard thing to watch and take in. When I moved to Albuquerque in 1969, I decided I wanted to document what was left, because I was interested in the architecture and the uniqueness of the businesses along the road. That’s what got me going.

I wanted to do a book years ago, and there wasn’t a great deal of interest. I tried quite a few times in the early days, but it didn’t work out. Eventually everybody started doing books on Route 66, which is really phenomenal. All these years I had dreamed of doing my own book, but I had pretty much given up. But some of my friends inspired me and helped me edit my photos and put the book together.

I’ve made three trips from Chicago to Los Angeles on Route 66, and with my work I’ve concentrated more on what I knew the best: California, Arizona, New Mexico, a fair amount of Oklahoma and a little bit of Illinois and Missouri. I didn’t try to do a book that represented the entire road and every state; I just concentrated on what I had and who I am.

As you’ve photographed and traveled on Route 66 over the years, how have you seen it change and what remains the same?
There have been huge changes, since the interstate sort of ravages the countryside, the small towns and the small businesses that are scattered along the way. It’ll never be the same, certainly, but the good thing is that some things have maintained. Like the Hackberry General Store in Arizona — that store has been there, I think, since the 1930s and it’s still in business. Or Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In in Seligman, the Museum Club in Flagstaff and La Posada in Winslow. There are still a lot of really wonderful things to see and experience, that give the feel of the old days, even though most of Route 66 has become interstate.

You document the past and present of Route 66 in your new book. What do you see in the future for this iconic route?
The road is overseen by the National Park Service, and they’ve done a lot to preserve these icons and landmarks that are left since it was declared a National Historic Highway. Unfortunately, it’s very likely that the funding that they’ve had through this year won’t be renewed. The good thing is that two senators introduced a bill to make Route 66 a National Historic Trail, and it looks like that’s going to go through. That will breathe new life and bring some funding back into the road again.

The thing about Route 66 is that it’s never going to die, no matter what. Between the individuals along the road, the associations along the road and the federal government doing what they can do, people are still going to be driving down it in 50 years, having fun.

What do you hope people take away from your book?
People are going to get a real feel for what the road was like before it was rediscovered, before people realized they needed to save and preserve it. By looking at my book and paying attention to where the photos were taken, you’re going to see what was once there. But I didn’t just want to show places that don’t exist anymore. There’s plenty of stuff in there that still exists and stretches of the road you can still see and experience today. I wanted the book to represent the old and the new, and just give people a little more to see and experience than a book that was all shot in the past 10 or 15 years.

The thing that’s different about my book is that more than half the images in there are things that are gone. There was no one else seriously photographing the highway in the 1970s and into the early 1980s. The images I have in that era are really unique, and many of them are one of a kind. I don’t just have 66 images; I have thousands. I’ve got a lot more that I wish people could see, but at the same time, we have a book that’s kind of quick and easy and fairly strong visually, because it doesn’t have so many images that you don’t see them all.

What would you tell people who are interested in traveling on Route 66 today?
Get an idea ahead of time of what you don’t want to miss and factor those in, and then just slow down, poke around and talk to people. The more you do that, the more fascinating your trip will be, whether you’re just doing a small stretch of the road in Arizona or if you’re doing the entire thing. There’s little gems out there. I never really searched the road with a microscope, and there’s all kinds of amazing things out there that are associated with the road. Just don’t be in a hurry and don’t be afraid to talk to people. Let the experience come to you.

66 ON 66: A Photographer’s Journey is now available everywhere books are sold. To learn more about the book or to see Terrence Moore’s work, visit his website.

— Emily Balli

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Q&A: A Unique Art Style, a Unique Setting

Courtesy of Michelle Condrat

The 10th annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art begins this weekend (Saturday, September 8), and artists will once again be welcomed to the national park for a week to create "en plein air" landscape art that will then be on display into January. One of those artists, Michelle Condrat, has known since she was a child that she wanted to have a career in the arts. We spoke with her about the upcoming event and her unique painting style.

What drew you to landscapes?
I really like being outdoors; I like to go hiking and fishing, things like that. I’ve always liked nature a lot, and I like painting things that I enjoy. I’ve always been drawn to the landscape.

How did you get involved with the Celebration of Art event?
I’ve done other plein air events before. My most major one was a Zion National Park plein air event, and someone from the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art saw my work there and really liked it. They told me to apply to the show, so I did. My first year was in 2016.

Describe your artistic style.
My style is definitely different from a lot of the other artists. It’s more of a modern impressionist style. Some people think it’s almost geometric.

It’s developed over the years. Back in high school and most of my college days, I was a really traditional artist, very photorealistic. I just slowly developed it. I was really interested in breaking up edges of things, and the whole horizontal and vertical strokes started developing, and I liked playing around with that. It lends itself really well to the landscape and red rock, because it’s already so linear. My style gives paintings a bit of movement, and I really like that, so it’s not just a still picture of a landscape. I want to give a little bit of life to my painting.

How did people react to your different painting style?
Within the past five or six years, people have really liked it. But when I first started, I don’t think people really knew what to think. I got a lot of funny looks, like people didn’t really get it, because they were used to seeing more traditional styles for plein air paintings. People slowly accepted it, and as they saw it more, I think they really got used to it and embraced it.

What keeps you coming back to the event?
I really like the group of people, the artists and coordinators. And just the fact that it’s the Grand Canyon. It’s a really special place to visit. I know people travel from all over the world to see it, and I feel really honored that I get invited to be there. I really enjoy painting it — it’s challenging, but I really like it.

To see more of Condrat’s art, visit her website. To learn more about the Grand Canyon Celebration of Art, visit the event’s website.

— Kirsten Kraklio

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Q&A: Outdoor Painting at the Grand Canyon

John Cogan paints the Grand Canyon at Shoshone Point in 2015. | Courtesy of John Cogan

This fall marks the 10th annual Grand Canyon Celebration of Art, which starts September 8 at Grand Canyon National Park. One of the event's highlights is artists painting en plein air, or outdoors, for a week at the Canyon. The work produced is then displayed for sale in Kolb Studio through the new year. A portion of the proceeds from the annual event benefit the Grand Canyon Association’s mission to create a dedicated art venue at the South Rim.

We spoke with John Cogan, a professional painter who has joined the Celebration of Art each year since its inception and estimates he has painted the Canyon 700 times (although he admits he quit counting a while ago).

When did you start painting the Grand Canyon?
My wife and I went there in 1978, and I started painting it right after that, and I’ve been painting it ever since. I love it. There’s always something new and different in the Canyon: the lighting, different seasons, just day-to-day changes in the weather. [It] makes it a really intriguing and challenging thing to paint.

What are some of the challenges?
Painting there at the Canyon, the main challenge is the changing light. That’s always true when you’re painting en plein air, because the sun moves pretty rapidly across the sky. It’s especially tricky in the Grand Canyon, because you have so many different buttes and crevices between them, and the shadows seem to change even faster than they seem to do in a flat landscape.

What is your favorite spot at the Grand Canyon?
You can’t make me choose a favorite spot, but if I had to pick one, I would probably say Mather Point, which is of course the main place people go on the South Rim. There’s parts of it I could paint without any reference at all, because I’ve been there so many times and painted it so many times.

What keeps you coming back to the Celebration of Art every year?
I keep coming back because it’s exciting. There’s a lot of artists there, and all of them I know; every year there’s a new one or two that I have to get to know, but they become my friends. They’re more than just acquaintances. We paint together, we talk a lot, we compare notes on how to approach painting the Canyon — everybody has their own way of doing it. It’s fun to watch all the other artists and see what they do differently than what I do. And, of course, the opportunity to spend nine straight days doing nothing but painting the Grand Canyon. And, yeah, we get tired, but not tired of the Canyon. You just finally get weary from all that painting, but no one wants to quit. I’ve seen artists out there painting the day when everybody is leaving; there'll be someone out there with their easel set up, painting. They just don’t want to give up.

What should new visitors expect from the event?
Visitors can come out and watch the artists paint. We’re all used to gawkers and having people look over our shoulder, asking us questions. It doesn’t bother us. They can watch us paint for a couple hours and watch a blank canvas turn into a painting of the Canyon.

Why is this event, and the creation of a dedicated art venue at the Canyon, important to you?
I think the general population grows a new perspective of natural wonders when they see it in pictures. Of course they see it in photographs, but there’s something different about seeing it painted — paint on canvas. It brings back memories and reinforces the idea that this is a special place.

I think, and hope, this is an event that is going to continue well past my lifetime, because there’s so many people that are interested in art and historical art, and a lot of the [stored] paintings that will be exhibited eventually date back to the 19th century, so it’s a bigger thing then just us. It’s fun to be a part of it, and for the event in September, it’s special and everything, but it’s larger than any of us. 

To learn more about the upcoming event, visit the Grand Canyon Association’s website.

— Kirsten Kraklio

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Q&A: International Honors for Tucson Thai Chef

Courtesy of Senae Thai Bistro

Since 1987, chef Amonwadee “Dee” Buizer has been cooking up unique Thai dishes at restaurants around the country. In 2016, she opened upscale Thai restaurant Senae Thai Bistro in Tucson, where she strives to create fresh, creative cuisine that stays true to her Thai roots.

Senae Thai was recently awarded the official Thai Select Distinction by the Thai Ministry of Commerce, an honor that is meant to recognize and promote authentic Thai cuisine worldwide. Shortly after receiving this honor, Buzier was one of only seven chefs from the United States selected to attend the recent THAIFEX 2018 International Trade Exhibition in Bangkok.

Buizer just returned from THAIFEX, and we asked her to tell us about her recent trip and what inspires her in the kitchen. (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

Tell us a little about yourself and how you ended up in Arizona.
I came to the U.S. from Bangkok at 11 years old, when I was starting sixth grade. I opened my first restaurant, Sweet Basil, in Berkeley, California, with my sister in 1987. Then I opened two other restaurants with my siblings in Los Gatos and San Francisco. Jim, my husband, swept me off my feet and took me to Washington, D.C., and there we raised our children. I had the opportunity to open a restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland, in 2000, and while we were operating that restaurant, my husband was recruited by Arizona State University.

We decided that we would move westward, and I took some time off to raise our children while in Tempe. All the while, the University of Arizona was recruiting Jim to come and work with the climate scientists in Tucson. After our daughter graduated high school, we moved down to Tucson, and I discovered there are not many Thai restaurants, and a lot of them are a mixture of other Asian cuisines, so I opened Senae Thai in July of 2016.

Was cooking a big part of your life growing up? How did you become a chef?
My mom was a wonderful cook; she actually opened the very first Thai restaurant in San Francisco back in 1968 with her sister. When I was in high school I watched her in the restaurant and learned from her, but as a teenager I thought I would never open a restaurant.

As an adult I found a passion for cooking because as I traveled, I was attracted to various types of food and wanted to learn how they were prepared. After coming back from trips, I would try to imitate the flavors. Back then we didn’t have Google, which would’ve made my life much easier, but that was a challenge that I put on myself to be able to re-create wonderful dishes while also refining my skills.

How would you describe your cooking style and what inspires you in the kitchen?
I try to source locally and work with the freshest ingredients I can possibly attain. I don’t drown my food in spices, but rather let the natural flavor of each of the ingredients shine on their own. I make sure all the flavors are there in one dish, well balanced, but you can distinctively taste each of the flavors in each dish. In Thai cuisine you have spicy, sour, sweet all nicely blended.

I would say people inspire me to be creative in the kitchen. I enjoy cooking for people and getting to please their palates as best I can. In the presentation of my food, I use the food itself to present it in a beautiful manner. My philosophy is you need to please the eyes before you please the stomach. When you do that, then you enjoy the dish even more.

What do you feel sets Senae Thai Bistro apart from other Thai restaurants in Arizona?
I believe the great attention to detail of freshness of the food and the refinement of my cooking, as well as presentation of the food and ambience of the dining room. My dining room is like my extended living room; I want people to feel warm and welcome. When people think of upscale restaurants, they usually think they have to dress up and pretend not to be themselves when they eat. But in my dining room, people do feel comfortable being there and enjoy their evening, while it’s still upscale. My kitchen is also semi-open and you can really see its beauty.

Each wine on the menu is nicely paired with the food that we offer, and it’s a pretty extensive selection for a Thai restaurant. I believe I have the best pad Thai in town, but I have other beautiful dishes that people should come and try.

Your restaurant was recently awarded the Thai Select Distinction. How did you feel when you received this honor?
I had no idea such an award existed, and a person called me from the Thai Ministry of Commerce Thai Trade Center in Los Angeles and said they were coming to my restaurant and they wanted to present this award to me. The award was wonderful, and it truly affirms what I was doing here after all these years in the restaurant industry.

You were also selected to attend the THAIFEX 2018 International Trade Exhibition in Bangkok. What was that experience like?
When I was invited, I was excited and at disbelief, actually, to be one of 32 chefs worldwide and one of seven out of the States who were invited. It’s such a great honor. The purpose of the trip was to thank us for doing such a good job of cooking Thai food abroad and maintaining the authenticity, as well as being creative and innovative. In addition to that, they wanted us to explore the options of perhaps using other Thai products in each of our restaurants.

The event itself was three full days of so much food, every day, all day long. There were thousands and thousands of ideas and products that I saw at THAIFEX. I met with the Top Chef of Thailand 2017 and Iron Chef of Thailand 2018; that was really exciting, and they actually cooked for us.

It was great to share knowledge and ideas with chefs from around the world. I loved visiting different places in Bangkok to get some new ideas to improve or introduce in my Thai cooking here in America.

What advice would you give to aspiring chefs and restaurant owners?
You have to be passionate about what you do. That’s the driving force for me. It’s hard work. I love to cook, but it’s really hard work. Without passion, I don’t think one can exist in the restaurant industry so well.

Senae Thai Bistro is located at 63 E Congress Street in Tucson. To learn more, visit www.senaethai.com.

-- Emily Balli

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Q&A: A Young Ambassador for National Parks

Courtesy of the Wilson family

In May, Bryan Wilson, age 11, was named the most recent Buddy Bison Student Ambassador, a program created in 2015 by the National Park Trust.

Bryan has been to 21 parks this year alone and is a regular volunteer at Navajo National Monument near his home on the Navajo Nation, where his father is a physician for the tribe. He attends an online school, Arizona Connections Academy, which allows him the freedom to travel and explore. His mom, Nina, said when they moved to the area, Bryan said he was bored and asked her to open an Instagram account where he could post photos of his adventures.

“He ended up following another junior ranger named Tigran, who was the first Buddy Bison Ambassador,” Nina said. “[Bryan] ended up looking up the program and trying to figure out what it was about; he wrote a letter to the headquarters and shared he was a junior ranger and all the great places he had been, and asked how he could become an ambassador. We received a call from them, and they said, ‘You were actually on our radar because we saw your Instagram account. We’re so excited you sent us a letter, because we were going to try to contact you.’”

Arizona Highways spoke with Bryan to learn more about his love of the outdoors and what he hopes to accomplish as the next Buddy Bison Student Ambassador.

What is your favorite place you’ve visited and why?
That’s a hard one. All the national parks are beautiful, but I would have to say my favorite national park would be Yellowstone National Park, because of the beautiful scenery, nature and the animals.

Why did you want to become a Buddy Bison Ambassador, and what do you hope to help with?
I wanted to become one because diabetes runs in our family, first of all, and I see very little kids walking around with very large sodas and chips in their hands. I was very stunned to see how many of them have childhood obesity and diabetes, so I wanted to help out. One of the initiatives that Buddy Bison stands for is getting kids outside, active and healthy, and I thought that would go really well with the Navajo Nation. That’s why I wanted to become a Buddy Bison. My goal is to end childhood obesity and pre-diabetes on the reservation.

You’ve had the chance to speak with elected officials. How was the experience?
That was wonderful. I got to talk with the Navajo Nation Embassy and a couple of other legislators, and that was pretty cool. I shared the Buddy Bison initiative with them and they liked it so much, they’re going to help it go wide.

How do you use Instagram?
I like to use Instagram for sharing my adventures and encouraging kids to get outside and active and healthy. I gained several friends like Tigran, who was the first Buddy Bison Ambassador; I really like him. We met at Channel Islands National Park, and then I volunteered at the White House Easter Egg Roll and we met again there.

What is your favorite trail or hike in Arizona?
My favorite trail or hike is Betatakin. It’s an aspen trail that leads you to the Betatakin Overlook, which is a cliff dwelling in Arizona in Navajo National Monument.

To follow along with the adventures of Bryan and #BuddyBison, check out his Instagram, @junior_ranger_bry.

— Kirsten Kraklio

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Q&A: What Really Happened at the Power Cabin in 1918?

The Power Cabin, the scene of a legendary shootout a century ago, is in the Galiuro Mountains of Southeastern Arizona. | Courtesy of Steve Porter

In 1918, an early-morning shootout in a remote area of Arizona left a sheriff and his two deputies dead, Jeff Power mortally wounded and Jeff’s sons, Tom and John, in trouble. Questions, theories and accusations would persist for the weeks, years and even decades that followed. Historian Heidi J. Osselaer’s new book, Arizona’s Deadliest Gunfight, looks to separate fact from false leads and conspiracy theories, tracing the Power family’s roots back several generations. We asked Osselaer a few questions about the book.

Why did you begin researching the Power gunfight?
Cameron Trejo was doing a documentary film on this, and he came to me looking for historical consultation, because there are a few books out there, and boy, do they ever clash as to the theories of what happened up at that cabin. One was written by Tom Power himself, and the other one by the son of the sheriff, McBride, who died. I read the books, and there were so many holes in the stories, and they didn’t really fit with what was going on in Arizona and the country at the time. I said, “I think we really have to start from scratch,” and I thought he’d tell me to go away, but he was very diligent. He said, “I want to get to the truth. I don’t want to keep perpetuating this folklore.”

What interested you in the story of the shootout?
As a historian, I am fascinated by the unknown story, and clearly, this was one. This is a story that still has a hold on people. When we were screening the film, hundreds of people would show up around the state. It’s just such a draw. I’m always shocked at it, but I think it speaks to different people in different ways. Some people are very interested in the politics of it [and] what was going on during World War I. Some people are interested because it’s like a detective novel. For me, it was more the politics of it, because I’m a political historian, but for a lot of people, I think it’s because they want to find out what really happened.

When did you realize you wouldn’t be able to uncover what really happened?
It became clear to me very early on that too many documents disappeared, too much time had elapsed. As much fun as it would be to solve a 100-year-old murder mystery, I wasn’t going to do it. But I really like the politics of the time period, and this was something I hadn’t really heard about.

Were there any surprises during your research?
One thing that nobody knew about was that they were under investigation by the FBI. When I started looking at all of the material, I realized they’re draft evaders — the federal government would be looking for them. I went to national archives in Riverside, [California], and these guys didn’t show up on the deserters list or anything like that. I thought, “That’s weird,” but I knew from reading that they would be under investigation, and lo and behold, the archivist there helped me find those records. I also went back East, to the Department of Justice and military intelligence records, and what was just shocking to me was here these guys were under investigation and all kinds of misinformation informed this decision. No wonder everybody was making up stories — nobody knew what was going on, even in real time, because they lived in such a remote area.

I kept thinking that they were doing something wrong, that the Power brothers were doing something to attract attention, and instead it was what was going on in the bigger picture in the United States that was forcing the hand of law enforcement to go out after draft evaders.

You visited the cabin where the shootout took place. What was it like?
It is an incredible place to visit. You have to be prepared and do your homework, but it’s one of those rare places where we have out in the wilderness area a building that’s on the National Register of Historic Places. It’s amazing. Back then, you were just miles from the nearest neighbor. Now you’re even farther from civilization. Klondyke used to have 300 people in that community, and now there’s 5. It’s a ghost town.

How did Don Dedera (a former Arizona Highways editor) help your research?
He was absolutely a wonderful resource for the book. These guys [Tom and John] died in the ’70s, so there’s only a handful of people around that really knew them well. A lot of people knew them to say hi, but didn’t know them that well. For him to share his memories was really awesome.

Heidi J. Osselaer's Arizona’s Deadliest Gunfight is available for purchase on Amazon.

— Kirsten Kraklio

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Q&A: Lisa Langell on Wildlife Photography and a Boyce Thompson Exhibition

Courtesy of Lisa Langell

You might recognize Lisa Langell’s name from the handful of her photos that have appeared in Arizona Highways recently. Langell, a Michigan native, specializes in wildlife photography, and her work is on display at Boyce Thompson Arboretum, near Superior, all this month. We asked Langell a few questions about her career, the show and her advice for budding wildlife photographers. (This interview was conducted via email and edited for length and clarity.)

Tell us a little about yourself and how you became interested in photography in general.
I currently live in Scottsdale; however, my passion started for me with my incredible great-aunt, Josephine James, who taught me about birds. When I was 14, in 1986, Canon A-1 (35 mm) in hand, we traveled to Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, Canada, for its world-renowned spring bird migration. We saw over 100 species in one day. The tiny, colorful warblers were my favorite. I drooled at not only the birds, but the many nature photographers with their long lenses. I distinctly remember thinking, I want to do that someday. That started my story and my journey.

Do you photograph full time, or do you do something else as well?
I am a full-time photographer now, but my journey to this career was definitely not on a straight, well-paved road. Photography and birding were hobbies for me since age 8. I was initially a floral designer and decorator for 15 years, from the time I was a young teen all the way through graduate school. I put myself through college in that wonderful career that I still often miss.

After grad school, I worked for 15 years as a psychologist, international consultant, researcher and speaker in education. I worked extensively with children with learning disabilities, focusing on early intervention and best practices. I loved the profession, yet photography always beckoned. In 2011, I set up my part-time photography business, and in 2015, I began working full time as a photographer. I love every moment, and I still get to help people daily — just in different ways than ever before.

Clearly, your focus is nature photography. What drew you to that particular discipline?
Initially, bird photography drew me in as a teen; however, I’ve loved being in the field, the woods, along the shores, in a marsh, etc., ever since I was a young child. I chuckle at it now, but as a 5-year-old, I used to make “mock” birds’ nests out of dead grasses and mud, prop them up in trees and fill my heart with hope that birds would choose them over building their own. In winter, I’d dig tunnels in the snow drifts to make “dens” for the local cottontails, then line them with the “fluff” from cattails. (It looked like rabbit fur to me!) I fed the birds, I participated in Christmas bird counts, I even tried to write my own little field guide of the neighborhood when I was a kid. I’ve always loved and cared about nature. Photographing and interpreting nature through the lens keeps me connected to it in a really personal and special way.

What are some of the challenges you encounter when photographing animals (as opposed to doing other kinds of photography)?
Wildlife to photograph and the “perfect storm” of conditions — the right light, moment, background, foreground, subject, action and composition — have to be there to create a memorable image. But the challenge I love most about wildlife photography is the one that also keeps me pushing forward. It is my genuine passion to create fresh, innovative, evocative and quality imagery, workshops and learning experiences for my audience. I also love connecting my audience with nature in increasingly powerful ways through my work.

What advice would you give someone just starting out in nature photography? 
First: The word “amateur” means “lover of something.” Embrace this beautiful word, and remember, no matter how much we already know, we are always a “newbie” at the next skill we are about to learn.

Second: This is a lifelong journey you are embarking upon. Do not get discouraged, even when the techniques become challenging or doubt creeps in. Find your inspiration in nature.

Third: Find places you love to shoot, and get to know them well. Knowing your subjects’ behavior patterns, habitat and unique quirks will help you anticipate a great shot in the making.

Above all, remember: Seek and appreciate the experiences and memories you encounter through your journey with photography, not just the images.

How did the Boyce Thompson show come together? Do you photograph there a lot, or have a relationship with them?
The Art Gallery at Boyce Thompson is a juried exhibition. I submitted my portfolio nearly a year ago and was awarded the opportunity to exhibit my work in for the month of March. I was honored to have my work hang in a place I dearly love. Also, 20 percent of sales from the show will benefit the arboretum.

I have been an Arizona State Parks volunteer since about 2010, focusing my work at Boyce Thompson. I teach classes, help with events, fundraise and do other tasks to support the park. Boyce Thompson is an absolute gem in Arizona — the views are simply stunning within and around the park. With wildlife, nature, hiking, beautiful botanicals and some of the most friendly, caring, amazing staff I have ever met, it is a place you will visit and quickly feel right at home. I love to photograph the park — it feels like home to me.

What can people expect to see at the show? Are the photos all from Arizona, or from elsewhere as well?
Aside from two images, each of the 30-plus pieces on display and for sale were photographed in Arizona. For the vintage-styled works, I then processed and hand-printed them via a multi-step method to create the vintage look, then mounted them to wooden backdrops made from reclaimed wood sourced in Arizona. I sourced antique-style zinc frames, found objects from Arizona and other embellishments to finish the pieces. The goal was to create the modern and rustic look while preserving the essence of the birds and animals I photographed. Of special importance, the wood backdrops were created jointly by my father, Sherman, and me.

To learn more about the exhibition, click here. The public can attend an artist’s reception Saturday, March 17, from 1 to 4 p.m.; click here to print a coupon that will get you free admission for the event. To learn more about Lisa Langell, click here.

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Q&A: Domingo DeGrazia Continues Father's Artistic Legacy

The DeGrazia Spanish Guitar Band includes (from left) Beth Daunis, Domingo DeGrazia, Mark Brugler and Rick Skowron. | Courtesy of DeGrazia Spanish Guitar Band

As an artist, Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia left a lasting impact on Arizona — including in the pages of Arizona Highways. Now, one of his children is doing the same in a different art form.

The DeGrazia Spanish Guitar Band — guitarist and songwriter Domingo DeGrazia, violinist Beth Daunis, bassist Mark Brugler, guitarist Rick Skowron and drummer Kai Felix — has been playing together for about 10 years. Ahead of the band’s performance at Tucson’s Sea of Glass Center for the Arts this Saturday, March 10, we spoke with DeGrazia about the performance, where he finds musical inspiration and how his father’s artwork has impacted him.

What kind of music does the band play?
We play somewhere between Spanish guitar and Americana type of music. It’s all original; we have a couple traditional tunes that we play, but otherwise we write everything and arrange it all. I have a few songs we have vocals on, but we’re mostly instrumental at this point.

Tell us about the upcoming Sea of Glass performance.
It’s going to be a lot of fun. We try and make these shows accessible and something that everyone can engage in. A lot of times with classical guitar or flamenco, it tends to be a bit on the stuffy side, but we try to keep it fun and that you walk away not only whistling the tunes, but smiling and having a good time. I think that really comes across in the amount of fun we have onstage, because we tend to be joking with each other throughout the show.

So, this is an event any ages can enjoy?
We’re welcoming to all age groups. That’s another thing we’ve been really lucky with: Our audience ranges from like 7 to 77. Kids are definitely welcome to come in; it’s a family-friendly show. We do try to engage kids when they start dancing, and we have the musical chops and prowess to impress the true music fans. It’s taken 30 years to get to that point, but these days, we have it.

For returning audiences, can they expect anything different from this year’s Sea of Glass performance?
We’ve been there the prior two years, and it’s always a really warm audience. The last two years, we made live concert videos during the shows. This year we’re going to bring it back to more of an intimate performance, a little bit closer to an acoustic show, just to have a little bit better connection with the audience.

Tell us about how the upcoming show benefits teen and young-adult rehabilitation programs and Avalon Organic Gardens internships.
I try to commit the band to two full benefit shows a year; this year, we have a handful of shows that are in conjunction with some providers in the community. Anytime that we can help out and not only bring visibility to a cause, but also give them some financial support, we’re always in for that.

Where do you find musical inspiration?
Music is an expression that started when I was 6 or 8 years old, as far as just having musical imagination flow out through piano or guitar. A lot of times, the inspiration comes from playing and somewhat serendipity — a lot of rehearsals and trying every option. I know it’s not the sexy way to describe music writing, but literally, there are really beautiful nuggets of creativity that come out when you’re immersed in the music environment.

Has your dad’s artwork influenced your life and music?
Oh, yeah. Growing up with my mom and dad, we spent a lot of time going out to reservations, out to powwows and celebrations, so the Native American music — I call it the music of the Southwest — had a really strong influence on how I create. It became the foundation for my imagination. With my dad’s artwork, there’s really so many pieces that one can look at and interpret in different ways to evoke feelings. I have a handful of pieces of artwork in the house that are a daily inspiration for me.

Do you recall seeing your dad’s work in Arizona Highways growing up, and if so, how did that impact you?
My dad passed when I was 8, so I didn’t have a lot of time to get to know him, but knowing that he was in Arizona Highways and the magazine was going all over the world was really an affirmation that his artwork was important to a lot of people.

That idea comes back to me even today, because I’ll meet people at concerts or galleries, and they’ll come up and say, “I have to tell you this story about your dad from the 1960s,” or something, and whatever the story is, that time that they spent with my dad decades ago still has a really bright impression on them and it’s something they want to share. It reaffirms whatever magic that my dad had, it had a great impact on people and really touched a lot of people’s lives. I know Arizona Highways was a huge part of getting him out to the world and making him accessible to people throughout the globe.

For tickets or more information on the upcoming Sea of Glass performance, call 520-398-2542 or visit www.theseaofglass.org.

— Kirsten Kraklio

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Q&A: Snapshots of History at the Arizona Camera Museum in Flagstaff

Some of the cameras and camera accessories on display at the Arizona Camera Museum in Flagstaff. See more photos at the bottom of this story. | Courtesy of Tom Holtje

In a world of all things digital, we seldom think about how the tools we use every day came to be. Photography, for example, is as easy as pulling your phone out of your pocket and pressing a button — or setting your digital camera to automatic. In the days of film and manual settings, things were much different. In November, Tom Holtje, an avid camera collector, opened the Arizona Camera Museum to not only showcase his extensive collection, but also explore the history of cameras and photography. We caught up with him to learn more about it. (This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Tom Holtje. I’m the curator, founder, operator and sole employee of the Arizona Camera Museum in Flagstaff. I grew up on the East Coast, and I’ve lived in Flagstaff for about six years. I can’t remember a time I didn’t have a camera growing up. My father was the family photographer, and he took a lot of pictures and slide photos. My mom worked at Fotomat for over 10 years, so that was another entryway for me into photography. I got my first camera in high school; I started taking pictures for all sorts of things, like the newspaper and the yearbook.

Have you always collected cameras? How did your collection start?
I started working in photo retail in camera shops. I worked at one in New Jersey, and that’s where I started learning about all different types of cameras. I worked in several different camera shops from 1982 until 2000, and during that time, I started collecting some pieces. It’s only been in the last 10 years or so that I seriously started collecting cameras. I used to have a lot of collections — baseball caps, buttons, Beatles memorabilia — but eventually I realized that photography and cameras were where my passion really was.

Once I had more than 60 cameras and camera-related objects, I decided to really put effort into displaying it. I’m an art teacher, so education of people, of cameras and the history of photography is something I’ve pursued.

Tell us a little bit more about the collection in the museum. What are some of your favorite pieces?
I currently have about 100 pieces on display; that’s just a portion of my collection. In the spring, I plan to rotate some of the things on display now. I collect anything photographic: I have cameras, photographs, camera toys and advertising. I accept donations, and that’s sort of growing my collection as well. The one camera that I sort of feature is the StarKist Charlie the Tuna camera from 1971. I also have a camera that’s on loan from a local photographer, Shane Knight; it’s a big 8x10 camera, and it sort of dominates a corner of the museum. He acquired it from the original owner, who had taken four presidents' pictures with the camera. I also have a lot of box cameras.

I like to have the museum be a very interactive experience, so I have some View-Master viewers on display for children and adults, I have a video of some old Kodak TV commercials, and I have some tintype photographs that have a magnet next to them, so the picture can stick to it.

What are some of the fan favorites in the collection?
I have some cameras from the early ‘30s by Kodak called the Beau Brownie; they were updated, and the front of them have this Art Deco, Mondrian-esque design with different colors. I also have these soda can cameras from the late 1990s; they look like soda cans and take 5 mm film. I have a lot of Polaroid cameras; they had a lot of popular, iconic cameras that people really seem to enjoy.

What do you hope people learn or take away when they visit the museum?
Because our current culture is all cellphones, I want people to realize there’s this whole industry that was focused around one thing, and that was taking pictures of a specific event. If you didn’t have a camera, you weren’t able to record it. And also, the diversity of all the cameras out there. Most of my collection is film cameras. I want people to get a really good knowledge of the history of cameras and how important photography is to our culture.

Are there any upcoming events at the museum?
I just started the Cameras and Coffee Social Club, which meets on the fourth Saturday of every month. We’ll meet and just talk about photography-related things. I also offer several classes that cover everything from how to take better pictures and the history of photography, to how a camera works and George Eastman’s contributions to the art of photography.

What do you hope to change or add as the museum grows?
Everybody seems to have a story about a camera, or they know someone who has a collection. One of the things I’d like to do as a museum is incorporate the interest in the community into the collection. I recently had a local artist, Rebekah Nordstrom, do some paintings of antique cameras, and I display them in the museum. I want to start doing showcases for local community members, so they can display their own camera collections. It would be awesome to have a mini-collection inside of my own collection.

I’m also hoping that the museum will become ultra-popular so that I can move into a bigger space. My dream is to be able to do this full time.

The Arizona Camera Museum, located inside the Market of Dreams (2532 E. Seventh Avenue) in Flagstaff, is open Tuesdays and Fridays from 3 to 6 p.m., Saturdays from noon to 3 p.m. and other times by appointment. The suggested donation for visitors is $5 for adults and $3 for children. To learn more, visit the museum's Facebook page or contact Tom Holtje at 267-506-9810 or [email protected].

— Emily Balli

All photos courtesy of Tom Holtje.

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Q&A: Lowell Observatory Adding Observation Deck

This rendering shows the Giovale Open Deck Observatory, a project planned for Flagstaff's Lowell Observatory. | Courtesy of Lowell Observatory

Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff has announced plans to create a new observation deck to help with its increasing number of visitors each night.

According to the observatory, the new deck will be named in honor of longtime Lowell supporters and advisers John and Ginger Giovale, who made a lead gift for the project. “One of the things that prompted us to support this project is the vision being developed there at Lowell Observatory for major revamping of the campus and the visitors' experience," John Giovale said. "We saw this telescope plaza as a way in which momentum may be created towards that bigger objective, that bigger vision. And we were excited about that.”

Molly Baker, communications manager at Lowell, said the Giovale Open Deck Observatory project is “only the beginning of an exciting five-year-long expansion for Lowell Observatory.” The expansion is slated to include more room for exhibits, a larger visitors center and even a theater.

Baker shared additional details on the new observation deck.

Why is an additional deck needed at the observatory?
Lowell Observatory has been attracting 100,000 visitors for the last several years, and our original Mars Hill facility simply can't handle our average nightly admission anymore. The Giovale Open Deck Observatory will provide more telescopes for more guests without the long lines and wait time, and also without the hassle of pulling the telescopes out every night, as the roof housing them will roll off and they can stay stationary.

How many additional telescopes will the observatory house?
The GODO will house five telescopes, all of which provide a different view for the observer. It was important to Lowell Observatory that these new telescopes be of the highest technology, as it is our goal to be a premier private observatory in the nation and internationally.

When is the Giovale Open Deck Observatory expected to open to visitors?
Construction is scheduled to begin this spring. As long as everything goes smoothly, we expect to open the GODO in a members-only sneak peek, and then to the general public, in fall of 2018.

The observatory has created a "Telescope Wish List." What is needed, and how can people donate?
While the construction of the deck is fully funded by the generosity of the Giovales, we are still searching for funding of the large cost of the telescopes. These telescopes add up to a large sum, as they are the best in the industry.

As a nonprofit, Lowell Observatory funds our public program and science research purely on the generosity of our members, donors and grants. This is all possible because of people, like the Giovales, who believe in the mission of Lowell Observatory: to bring pure science research to the public, making discovery accessible to everyone.

People who wish to donate can do so by visiting our website or contacting our development manager, Lisa Actor, at [email protected].

— Kirsten Kraklio

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