City of Surprise News

Posted on: October 3, 2016

Surprise hosts free speaker series on Arizona history & culture

Arizona Flag

Experience stories of Arizona history and culture through a speaker series presented by the Surprise Arts and Cultural Advisory Commission in partnership with Arizona Humanities.

Local experts from Arizona Humanities’ AZ Speaks program will present on the following topics:

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - Honky Tonks, Brothels and Mining Camps: Entertainment in Old Arizona (Speaker: Jay Cravath, Ph.D.)

In pioneer Arizona, among the best places to experience the performing arts were in the mining towns. Striking it rich meant having disposable income, and miners wanted to demonstrate their sophistication with culture. From the early popular music of ragtime and minstrelsy during the forming of these communities evolved orchestras, opera and glee clubs. Perhaps the most popular form of musical entertainment was the concert band.

Monday, January 23, 2017 - Pearl Hart, the Lady Bandit- Victim or Vixen… or Both? (Speaker: Chris Reid)

Separating fact from fiction is no easy task when it comes to flamboyant stage coach robber Pearl Hart. A mountain of conflicting stories abound, thanks in no small part, to Pearl herself. This presentation will follow Pearl from her modest beginnings in Canada and discover what set her down the road that led from Canada to Ohio, Illinois, New Mexico, and finally, Arizona. The road that took her from an innocent teenager to a life of crime is littered with stories of abuse, abandonment, and poor choices. Reid will explore Pearl’s life as a both victim and vixen to shed some light on an Arizona figure surrounded by mystery.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017 - In the Footsteps of Martha Summerhayes (Speaker: Wayne Ranney)

Martha Summerhayes was a refined New England woman who entered the Arizona Territory in 1874 as the young bride of an Army Lieutenant. Traveling in horrific conditions and dreadful heat, she soon despised the wild and untamed land. She gave birth to the first anglo child born at Fort Apache where the native women took her under their care. Gradually, Martha’s attitude towards the desert changed and she soon came to love the starry nights, the clear air, and the simplicity of its inhabitants. She wrote about her experiences in the classic book, “Vanished Arizona,” still in print since 1908.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017 - Cowboys and Cowgirls: Icons of the American West (Speaker: Betsy Fahlman)

Few symbols have been more durable than the American cowboy. This program will give an overview of this populist figure, whose image was first defined by painters Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. Also important to the story are brave cowgirls and the Mexican vaqueros. Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show showcased mythic cowboy culture, with singing cowboys, pretty girls on horses, and plenty of Indians in his internationally popular extravaganzas that, for many, defined the American West. Arizona’s contribution to this chronicle is significant, and includes Lon Megargee (the state’s original cowboy artist).

All presentations will be held from 11 a.m. - noon in the Community Room at Surprise City Hall, 16000 N Civic Center Plaza. The events are free and no reservations are required.

For more information, please contact Surprise Arts and Cultural Commission Chair Susan deJong at 623.214.7537.

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