Author William L. Bird Speaks on the Collectible Saguaro

Date: Thursday, June 20, 2024

Time: 3 – 4 p.m., AZT

Where: Zoom, register here

William L. Bird Jr., author of In the Arms of Saguaros, will speak on “The Collectible Saguaro: Cactus Craft in the Desert, 1920-1960.” Bird will explore the saguaro’s growth into a western icon from the early days of the American railroad to the years bracketing World War II, when Sun Belt boosterism hit its zenith and proponents of tourism succeed in moving the saguaro to the center of the promotional frame. In addition, Diane Dittemore, Associate Curator for the Arizona State Museum, will share saguaro-themed items from the museum’s collections. Dittemore is the author of Woven from the Center: Native Basketry in the Southwest. This free, virtual event is presented by the Friends of the Arizona State Museum Collections.

About the books:

In the Arms of Saguaros shows how, from the botanical explorers of the nineteenth century to the tourism boosters in our own time, saguaros and their images have fulfilled attention-getting needs and expectations. This book explores how the growth of tourism brought the saguaro to ever-larger audiences through the proliferation of western-themed imagery on the American roadside. The history of the saguaro’s popular and highly imaginative range points to the current moment in which the saguaro touches us as a global icon in art, fashion, and entertainment.

Woven from the Center: Native Basketry in the Southwest presents breathtaking basketry from some of the greatest weavers in the Southwest. Each sandal and mat fragment, each bowl and jar, every water bottle and whimsy is infused with layers of aesthetic, cultural, and historical meanings. This book offers stunning photos and descriptions of woven works from Tohono O’odham, Akimel O’odham, Hopi, Western Apache, Yavapai, Navajo, Pai, Paiute, New Mexico Pueblo, Eastern Apache, Seri, Yaqui, Mayo, and Tarahumara communities. This richly illustrated volume stands on its own as a definitive look at basketry of the Greater Southwest, including northern Mexico.

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