Doing it for the love
JOSH YOUNG: THE EYE BEHIND THE LENS
Josh Young not only takes the pictures, he produces the quarterly JazzBeat publication, designs all the TJS ads that appear in Tucson Lifestyle, Desert Leaf and other community publications, designs all the posters (often using his photographs), creates the banners displayed at the tables selling tickets and memberships, all the graphics elements at every TJS event as well as the display tables that society members set up at other cultural events around town.
“I’m not appointed to do any of these things,” Young says with a little chuckle. “But if it is visual, I’m concerned.”
In the fine print of Young’s lengthy professional resume as a graphic arts designer it notes he is a “specialist in corporate and institutional identity, logo and poster design.”
After two careers in big time advertising, one in big cities (including the design of posters selected by NASA to celebrate the Voyager missions, and in 1962 designing a presidential trophy given by President Kennedy to astronaut John Glenn commemorating the first US manned orbital space flight) and one career with the University of Arizona.
After retiring from that big city life in Chicago and Los Angeles, he returned to Tucson joining the University of Arizona as a graphics designer. Now he is best remembered as the man who designed two of the city’s most iconic images: the fierce Wildcat face seen on everything from t-shirts to pickup trucks; the unique scene of saguaro and mountains painted on the basketball court at McKale Center.
He also had a hand in the committee work that developed the controversial Block A in blue and red that has now become the university’s most immediate identity.
Around the year 2000 he was asked to help give the Tucson Jazz Society a newer, more professional look.
“At that time,” Young says, “The whole organization was run by volunteers. All their photos were black&white.”
Young saw lots of full-color possibilities. Now the Tucson native and graduate of Tucson High School pours all of his talents into TJS. Always being a visual person, he’s always seeing the bigger picture. And he’s always doing it for the love.
Volunteering four to eight hours of time and energy every day to TJS, Young truly does apply his talent to virtually every aspect of how the 32-year-old organization looks in public.
Instead of just applying his vision to JazzBeat, the print media display ads and larger-than-life posters that bring in the crowds, Young gets out there in the audience during every concert – indoors or outdoors – looking at the stage lighting, checking the backdrops, seeing how the musicians are being framed. Being sure the performance looks as professional as it sounds.
It’s a long way from being that starving college student and devoted jazz fan at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena back in the early 1950s, scrunching up close to the bandstand at The Haig in L.A. (“It was across the street from the Coconut Grove.”) where he would sit three feet from the band for hours at a time.
“I would look up through the slats of Red Norvo’s vibes and see Charles Mingus playing bass,” Young remembered. “Tal Farlow was on guitar.”
Other favorites included Bud Shank, Bob Cooper, June Christy and Jimmy Giuffre. “I heard them all at Rumsey’s Lighthouse on Hermosa Beach,” Young said proudly.
“At the Haig there was a waitress who would wink at my buddies and I, then let us sit there all night with just one drink,” Young remembered. The memories still make him smile.
The graphic arts designer and photographer-on-the-spot has lots to smile at these days, too. In the past decade he has given TJS that bright new professional look.
The organization is fortunate to have him, because its clear for everyone to see, Young gave them the look, alright – THE LOOK OF LOVE.
HERB STRATFORD: THE HOUND BEHIND THE FOX
“From 2000 to 2004 we raised $4 million in four years,” Stratford said, adding there was also a grant from the Rio Nuevo Project of $3.5 million and a loan of $5.6 million. The entire restoration project was budgeted at $14 million. All the remaining funds came from contributions by ordinary folks.
Stratford became known for his 17-hour days of passionate leadership and focused intention. He liked to tell how his love affair with the Fox started in 1986 when he was an especially curious photography student at the University of Arizona who snuck in through the theater’s roof one dark night to have a look around.
“It was fascinating and terrifying,” he remembered. In pitch black rooms that had been sealed up for 12 years, he started taking pictures. Back outside, Stratford became convinced he could make her beautiful again.
After carrying a torch for that lovely lady for 10 years, he was invited by the Downtown Alliance to have another look inside. He was horrified at the destruction and deterioration. The roof was leaking, graffiti was everywhere. So were two decades of pigeon droppings. An estimated 40 homeless people were living inside.
He knew if someone didn’t act soon, the Fox was doomed for destruction.
“I went home, told my wife I’m going to quit my job and SAVE THE FOX,” Stratford remembered, still surprised that his wife, Kerry, said OK. Not only did she say OK, Kerry pitched in her own time and talent.
“My wife did all of our marketing and design work,” Stratford said. “She is a graphic designer who made us look like a million dollars. You know, to raise a million you have to look like a million.”
Then on New Year’s Eve, 2005, the freshly painted and up-to-code Fox Theatre officially opened to begin its new life as a historical showplace.
But the road became more bumpy as the Fox shifted from being a fund-raising project to being a place looking for money-making programs. Once the doors opened, those private donations dried up, too. Tensions mounted as money-making productions became more elusive.
On May 1, 2008, Stratford resigned as the theater’s general manager.
“After 10 years of 17-hour days I felt it was time to leave,” Stratford remembered. “I never thought this would be my career. I just figured I’d run it for awhile.”
Stratford’s absence left a vacuum that wasn’t filled. No effective leadership was discovered. The elegant Fox began looking like a white elephant.
Last spring in an idle moment Stratford realized the Fox had nothing scheduled for the entire summer.
“When I saw the theater would be dark for three months, I said ‘That can’t happen!’’
Working with a note pad and his equally dedicated pal Tom Skinner, two summer film programs were put together, a series of 1930s adventure serials for kids and another series of classic films for adults. The summer film program was the most successful yet at the Fox.
Now a fall and winter series of classic films has been announced to begin Sept. 5. See the schedule on our Future Shows page.
But back last spring, when it seemed like all those years of Stratford’s torque-jawed hard work were fading, he returned as a volunteer staffer, going back to the theater’s familiar 17 W. Congress St. address (the theater’s original address when it opened in 1930).
With his typical addiction to historical accuracy, Stratford remembered about how the city’s street numbering system had changed since 1930. The city said the Fox couldn’t re-open at number 17. All the odd-numbered buildings were on the opposite side of the street.
Much paper-shuffling and conversation followed. The theater’s address remained 17 W. Congress St.
“I’d even get the original phone number back if I could,” Stratford declared.
Such dedicated attention to detail is ingrained in his personality. The new volunteer had no sooner returned to the building than he began counting the burned out light bulbs.
“I finally convinced the city that $56 worth of light bulbs was worthwhile.” You could hear the satisfaction in his voice, knowing all the bad ones had been replaced.
But greater battles for recognition loom ahead. Stratford believes Tucson’s very own Fox Theatre is worthy of national historical status. The Southwest Deco style and the theater auditorium’s unique wall finish for better acoustics make the building’s architecture significant.
“Originally, the décor was called Spanish Modernistic,” Stratford explained, always insisting on accuracy. “That ‘art deco’ name hadn’t been invented yet.”
When a shiny brass plaque declaring the Fox Theatre a national treasure is finally bolted to the wall at 17 W. Congress St. the whole city will be richer. Stratford carried the torch, and did it all for the love, but his love affair with the building continues to enrich the Old Pueblo’s own treasured heritage.
DOING IT FOR THE LOVE
DR. BELLA KEEPS PERFORMERS ON THE MOVE
Bella Eibensteiner is putting the squeeze on actors and dancers – but in a good way. Applying her doctorate in chiropractics, she gives her services freely to the performers at Invisible Theatre and the University Of Arizona School Of Dance.
“I also took care of the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes when they were in town, performing with UA Presents about 15 years ago,” said Eibensteiner, gesturing to a framed Rockettes poster hanging in her tidy office. The poster has several of the dancers’ signatures on it.
“I’ve always loved dance. I would have loved to be a dancer, but never had the opportunity to take dance lessons.”
That is actually a good thing for all those performers Eibensteiner has helped over the years. A chiropractor was what they needed, not another dancer.
This generous service to artists started innocently enough nearly 25 years ago through Eibensteiner’s friendship with Susan Claassen, the artistic director of IT.
The actors in Claassen’s company needed help and good-natured Dr. Bella was happy to oblige. In a typical season Eibensteiner estimates she assists 50 actors and dancers with their adjustments. As you might imagine, it is the dancers who need the most attention.
“Low back problems,” she added solemnly. “The Rockettes, they had such young bodies, they responded so fast to treatment,” Eibensteiner said, still sounding amazed.
One of Dr. Bella’s most complicated cases was former NFL football player Bo Eason. This professional athlete turned actor does a one-man show dramatizing the intense determination it took for him to be in the NFL. His play is called “The Runt of the Litter.” His motivation was to be as good as his big brother, NFL quarterback Tony Eason.
Bo Eason played safety, a defensive position that requires more quickness than heft. But he was still one of the smallest guys in the game. During his pro football career Eason's body was pulverized from several different directions.
“He will live in pain the rest of his life,” said Dr. Bella, shaking her head sadly. “It seems like his knees were really messed up, and because of his knees, his gait was affected. Every step he takes, that pain goes all the way up the kinetic chain.”
But for most actors, the discomfort is stress related. Tightness in the shoulders is the most common, although Eibensteiner says there’s not really a pattern.
Since Invisible Theatre also books a steady stream of New York entertainers, Dr. Bella has often helped such visiting guest artists as Ann Hampton Calloway, Sandra Reeves Phillips and Michelle Brourman, the pianist for Amanda McBroom.
“We are physical beings. Everything emotional is manifest on a physical level,” said Dr. Bella. “So actors and dancers are particularly vulnerable.
“In the week before a performance, I could be seeing five people a day.”
The need to do it for the love began early in Eibensteiner’s life. She had a natural healing touch.
“When I was about five, I would always massage my older brother’s pitching arm,” Dr. Bella explained. “My mother had heart problems and I would always massage her little finger. She said it made her feel good.
“Later on, in my acupuncture classes, I discovered the tip of the little finger is the heart meridian.”
Another fact Eibensteiner learned is that the body is 70 percent water. It is extremely important to keep that water moving around through the muscles.
“When it comes to health, movement is more important than diet,” she insists, always wanting to help. “Give yourself five minutes of exercise every hour.”
During this interview, Dr. Bella also took the time to demonstrate several balance exercises. Practicing balance is a good defense against stooped posture as a person gets older. When it comes to doing it for the love, Dr. Bella Eibensteiner shows no favorites.