by Jhon Sanders
Having moved here just five years ago, I’ve only known of Tucson Puppet Works a short while, but they’ve been on the scene under various names and with a fluid line-up of collaborators for well over a decade now. Though I wasn’t around to witness their full history and range of activity, what’s clear to me from my limited experiences in the brief time I’ve spent in their company is an ardent dedication to the All Souls Procession that’s most readily seen in the workshops they’ve hosted for the community-at-large every October for so many years now, going back to its very beginnings.
The folks at Puppet Works have tirelessly offered up their time, energy and skills helping others to physically manifest some inner vision or feeling of theirs as part of the All Souls creative process, and often, in so doing, to realize a personal potential they hadn’t even known was theirs. Whether in a studio or someone’s backyard, the Puppet Works space has always been the hub of action during ASP season, for when they weren’t holding their own workshops, they were making the space available as a community nexus point for others to make use of in the flurry of October productivity.
Maybe you’re one of the many who’ve benefited from the technical expertise and free materials they’ve provided there for everyone’s use over the years. Or, like me, you’ve attended the many potluck meetings held at the studio in the run-up to All Souls and become more informed and involved. Or maybe you’ve just marveled or even been inspired by the finished products of self-expression on parade at the All Souls Procession that Puppet Works made with their own hands and imaginations, or helped us learn to make with ours. Whatever your exposure to or participation with them may be, there’s one thing I think we can all say for sure: Tucson Puppet Works has made for a livelier, more enriched and connected place for everyone here than it would have been without their contributions.
Though Puppet Works has dissolved as a formal collective and the studio space at 9th Avenue vacated, you can be assured they will still be around to provide instruction, workspace and free materials as always for the traditional All Souls Procession workshops. Tucson Puppet Works has always been such an integral part of All Souls Procession, and continues to help steward the vision for its continuation on into the future. For this and all of their efforts, we thank them, and wish them all the very best!
“ TPW has been a wonderful part of Tucson’s surreal, whimsical underground art scene. The folks at Puppet Works have always injected a healthy dose of creative action into the community.”
–Chad Bush, a.k.a. !Cuar! !Cuar! and “Windpipe” of Clown Band
“Tucson Puppet Works has been a true inspiration for me, especially through the All Souls Procession mask and puppet making workshops. I admire each one of the TPW crew and consider them a big reason why I decided to stay a spell in Tucson. I moved here during the workshops and went as often as I could. I ended up becoming an instructor at the workshops and because I helped so many people, the TPW guys asked me to teach. The experience has been extremely enriching for me and I would do it over for a thousand lifetimes!”
–Angela Walker, ASP volunteer, mask and puppet workshop instructor extraordinaire
“Artworks! started creating costumes and floats independently eight years ago for the All Souls Procession. Five years ago Charles Swanson worked at ArtWorks! and brought us in closer relationship. Student Brandon Kosters was particularly engaged and found himself performing and briefly touring with Puppet Works at festivals. His experience was invaluable. He now studies performance art at The Art Institute of Chicago. Puppet Works opened their studio to our students to help them realize their visions of giant heads for the All Souls Procession. More importantly they had such a profound community experience. Participating, witnessing, learning from a variety of artists around them and making them feel part of a profound cultural event. The gift of experiencing creativity and of being given a sense of belonging to something so much bigger than themselves is immeasurable. This was a peak and memorable experience for so many of our students. Their world view got bigger, they expanded their ideas about their own potential roles as artists in the community and got exposure to a funkier alternative world. We are grateful for their contribution.”
–Simon Donovan, teacher at Artworks!Academy
“I think Puppet Works is an amazing group of artists who have given the community of Tucson very many wonderful performances. They have kept the workshops for the All Souls Procession on the same wonderful path as the first workshops. They are all incredible people who add so much creativity to our arts community. I am honored by their work with the workshops and in the Procession…thank you.“
–Susan Johnson, founder of All Souls Procession