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UA’s Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry Begins Downtown “Show & Tell @ Playground” Series on Sept. 21

by Jamie Manser

Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry, UA’s arts, humanities and social sciences research center, is back Downtown with another season of Show & Tell @ Playground events. Started in 2012 as a way to connect university research to the Tucson community, Show & Tell has showcased topics as diverse and expansive as the subjects offered at the university, and the series is still going strong as it begins its fifth year.

For the monthly fall events, attendees can expect engaging, eclectic, multimedia presentations on a variety of topics, including: the origin and development of narcocorridos in September, the history of the Southwestern imaginary as created through film narratives in October, and the art of painting presidential immoralities – both political and romantic – in November.

The Wednesday, Sept. 21 event is “How Can You Listen to That?! Narcocorridos and the Notion of Heroism in Greater Mexico,” and features a presentation by San Diego State University Spanish Professor Juan Carlos Ramírez-Pimienta. He will share his scholarship on the origins and development of narcocorridos, how they have changed in the late 20th and 21st centuries, and how we can interpret these changes from social, historical and economic perspectives. He will also discuss how narcocorridos relate to border conflicts, the U.S.’s war on drugs and immigrations policies.

As Dr. Ramírez-Pimienta explained to the New York Times for this October 2015 article: “The appeal of the music is not its glorification of cartel culture; the songs are popular among immigrants because they symbolically empower them. Imagine an undocumented worker, they live their lives in fear. But then they listen to these songs about Mexicans who have no fear, who have power.”

Confluencenter Director Javier Duran invited Ramírez-Pimienta to present at Show & Tell because of the scholar’s unique and pertinent field of study. “It is important for our community to understand the history and the popularity of this music genre. Culture does not exist in a vacuum, and what happens in both Mexico and the U.S. has an impact on the Borderlands in which we live.”

On Wednesday, Oct. 19, Show & Tell presents “Celluloid Pueblo” with Jennifer L. Jenkins, a UA English and School of Information associate professor. The event is a collaboration with UA Press and celebrates the release of Jenkins’ book “Celluloid Pueblo: Western Ways Films and the Invention of the Postwar Southwest.” The event and book are about the Tucson-based film company Western Ways Features, and covers the company’s work documenting the diverse lifeways of Arizona’s residents from 1936-1976. Dr. Jenkins’ will screen rare footage in this made-for-Arizona-history-buffs presentation.

UA Art Professor Alfred Quiroz wraps the fall series on Wednesday, Nov. 16 with his presentation “Hystorical Narratives.” Quiroz will show selections from his University of Arizona Museum of Art show and discuss his sensational, satirical and meticulously researched paintings in an interactive conversation with attendees. “The Presidential Series: Paintings by Alfred J. Quiroz” exhibit depicts the immoralities of our ‘elected’ leaders through the traditional grand scale of history painting, married with an undercurrent of comic and street art that begs close examination. The museum hosts the artist’s reception and catalogue signing on Nov. 17 at 5:30 p.m. The exhibit runs Oct. 22–Jan. 22, 2017.

All events take place at Playground Bar & Lounge, 278 E. Congress St. and start at 6 p.m. More information is available at or call 520-621-0599.