The Fox – Our Art Deco Gem

Tucson’s Fox Theatre opened on April 11, 1930. Opening night proved to be the biggest party Tucson had ever seen. Congress Street was closed and waxed for dancing (!) There were live bands, a live radio broadcast and free trolley rides into downtown. This party was not to be missed. 

An early postcard

1960s rodeo parade

Welcome to the Fox

The Fox served as Tucson’s premier movie palace. There were films on the big screen in addition to community events. There were vaudeville performances and the Tucson Chapter of the Mickey Mouse Club met there. Economic forces closed the Fox in 1974. It would fall into horrible disrepair and remain empty for 25 years. 


A group called the Fox Tucson Theatre Foundation began negotiating with the owners in 1997, and in 1999, they were able to buy the Fox for $250,000. Restoration efforts began immediately. After a six year, $14 million rehabilitation, the Fox reopened on New Year’s Eve of 2005.  


In 1930, at the original opening, the décor of the Fox was described as “Spanish Modernistic” by the city’s newspaper. This is now known as Southwestern Art Deco and the Fox Tucson Theatre is the only known theater that exemplifies this style.

A cool drink at the Fox

Even the pigeons are happy

Word is that Art Deco is back. Over the years it’s been up. It’s been down. But the look is timeless and distinctive and Tucson is fortunate to have the Fox and other smaller examples that we can enjoy every day. And there are always vintage pieces of deco popping up in the Midtown Mercantile Mall like this fantastic Art Deco skyscraper lamp pictured here. It’s in booth 830 and it’s only $25! Come on in the mall and check it out.

Art Deco skyscraper lamp in the mall

Fox detail

Carol Fenn 8-2017




Collecting the Eclipse

You’ve got your NASA approved eclipse glasses and I’m sure you’re going to get a thrill out of watching this rare event occurring on August 21, 2017. But when it’s all over you might want to hang onto those eclipse glasses as they might just become collectible.  

Kids watching a 1920s eclipse

There are a few contemporary things that can join the vintage and antique items that eclipse lovers already collect. The glasses, t-shirts, and the lovely posters that have been created just for this happening.  

There are some really cool old items that fit the category of eclipse collectibles. Perhaps most well known are the vintage “eclipse pattern” tumblers by the iconic mid century designer, Russell Wright.

Tumblers by Russell Wright

Vintage 1970s eclipse t-shirt

Antique pull down eclipse chart

Then there are the old astronomical charts, old photos, etc. All endlessly interesting and historical. It’s so much fun to build a collection. 

Eclipse glasses, 1932

Eclipse photo, 1898

 Come on in to the Midtown Mercantile Mall at 4443 E. Speedway. We just might have an old eclipse collectible waiting for you.

Carol Fenn 8-2017

The Coyote in Myth and Art

The trickster, mankind’s older brother, the creator, the desert fox, the prairie wolf, child of the moon. Today most know him as the coyote. When the moon is full, he cries to his mother, the moon. Raising his voice in a howl. Mysterious and full of sadness.  

Howling at the moon

Perhaps it is this mysterious plaintive wail that has inspired humans to incorporate the coyote into so many legends and works of art. A Tohono O’odham myth has the coyote helping their heroic god, Montezuma, survive a global deluge that destroys humanity. After humanity is restored, the coyote and Montezuma teach people how to live. In Navajo mythology, the coyote was present in the First World with First Man and First Woman. This Navajo coyote brings death into the world, explaining that without death, too many people would exist and there would be no room to plant corn. In Aztec mythology, the “old coyote,” the god of dance and music, is depicted as a man with a coyote’s head. 

The Trickster

Audubon’s prairie wolf

Mexican folk art

You can find the coyote in paintings, vintage advertising pieces, figurines, tiles, jewelry, yard art, etc. In the 19th century, John James Audubon recorded his image of the coyote, calling him the “prairie wolf.” And of course, we can’t forget about the poor hapless Wile E. Coyote! Will he ever catch that darn Road Runner!

The coyote in advertising

“Surrealist” coyote wondering why he’s wearing these clothes!

Yard art

Wile E. Coyote in another “uh oh” situation

If you want to build or add to your coyote collection, come on into The Mercantile. We have so many interesting treasures. There’s bound to be a coyote or two. And if you’re very quiet you might even hear him howling at the moon.  

Carol Fenn 8-2017

Back To School – Then and Now!

Back in the day, before the first day of school, (which used to be mid-September) your Mom or Dad would take you shopping for new clothes and new shoes.  

Shopping at one of those newfangled “shopping malls.”

No self service shoes back then

We loved our lunch boxes

In those days, the clothes, no matter how much they cost, a lot or a little, were quality, finely made, and they lasted until you grew out of them. And this was probably the only time you got new clothes until the next year.  
After you were done shopping for clothes you might get treated to a brand new lunch box. Which one should you get? Yogi Bear, Peanuts, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Popeye, Underdog, Huckleberry Hound, Mary Poppins, Hee Haw, Batman, Julia, The Flintstones, or what? There were so many! Why is it so hard to pick?   

So many to choose from!

Last, grab a composition book, a pack of pencils and maybe a cool pencil box. That’s all you needed. Everything else was supplied by the school.  Oh, and hopefully your mom will save some paper grocery bags so that you can cover your textbooks with them.

We didn’t have to pay for books but we had to protect them

Today, kids go back to school in the middle of summer and parents receive the school’s annual list of classroom supplies that they must purchase and deliver. It can be three or four pages long. It includes several cleaning products and also requests a Costco-sized package of toilet paper. It might even include a huge bag of flour! This is in addition to the school supplies for your own child. A backpack, paper, pens, folders, notebooks, a calligraphy set, fifteen new apps for their tablets, a graphing calculator, a scalpel, an electron microscope and a centrifuge. And clothing? You’ll be buying clothes all year because today’s clothes only last thru maybe a half a dozen laundry cycles. Doesn’t sound like much fun does it? And not to mention the expense. Many parents cannot afford all of these items, hence the school supply drives that pop up this time of year.  

And I’m certainly not a snob about how people dress but just check out the difference in the crossing guards then and now.



Hey, to beat those back to school blues come on in to The Mercantile at 4443 E. Speedway, Tucson AZ.  You might find one of those old lunch boxes to help bring back those “back in the day” memories.

Carol Fenn 8-2017