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Jaguar Art Part of Events Marking Tucson Shootings Anniversary

January 5, 2012

TUCSON, Ariz. - In the wake of the 2011 Tucson shootings, the extended family of victim Gabe Zimmerman formed the BEYOND coalition, with the goal of making sure the community's positive response to the tragedy is remembered. On Saturday, to mark the incident's first anniversary, the group will put on a number of events aimed at strengthening that spirit of togetherness.

One event involves an art project called "Sewing Spots Together," where large fabric panels are joined to form a long image of a jaguar. Tucson artist Stephanie Bowman says contributions are coming from across the nation.

"I've got folks from North Carolina and Utah that have made pieces, California, so it'll probably be well over 100 feet long, I would guess somewhere probably around 150 feet long."

The jaguar panels will be displayed Saturday morning on Tucson's A Mountain. Bowman says the project supports the mission of BEYOND by raising awareness of the jaguar and the beginning of its return to historical Arizona habitat. BEYOND encourages community activities on public lands which promote appreciation of southern Arizona's unique natural beauty.

Instead of reliving the tragedy of the shootings, Bowman hopes her art piece and the weekend's other events will remind people of the strength and resilience of the community's response.

"As awful as it was, people came together, people created beautiful signs and left it outside of the hospital, people were coming out of their houses and doing things together, and we don't want to lose that spirit."

Bowman says "Sewing Spots Together" symbolizes the conservation measures needed to promote the return of jaguars to Arizona.

"Creating wildlife corridors between natural spaces so that animals can safely move from one wild area to another, the idea of recognizing the need to sew all these wild places together all the way from the Amazon up to Arizona."

Jaguars historically roamed Arizona as far north as Grand Canyon. Recovery efforts have produced a significant jaguar population just south of the Mexican border. A jaguar was spotted in November in Arizona's Cochise County.

More information is online at beyond-tucson.org/events.

Doug Ramsey, Public News Service - AZ