UA News Stories by Susan L. Miller Stir Up Interest for 2013 NAP Show


The Artist Within

By Susan L. Mille

In an effort to encourage UA employees to participate in the juried art show “On Our Own Time”, we are featuring some past winners in a series of articles. All of these colleagues balanced a busy professional and personal life and still found time to pursue their muse. So can you!

Christine Mach-Handgis has been at the UA almost three years and currently works as an Administrative Assistant at University College in the ILC. That’s her professional hat. Have her don her creative cap and you’ll find a self-taught artist. As far as formal training goes, she took just one six-week class through the Park District and found that particular experience less than helpful. Not to worry, Christine went on to train herself. She proceeded to devour all kinds of watercolor instruction books to learn various techniques. She did have one huge advantage…she comes by her talent naturally.

Christine said of her father, “He had innate talent and I grew up watching him draw and paint. Drawing came so easily to him and he was extremely talented. I wanted to draw like him for as long as I can remember. He became a rather well known Southern Illinois natural wildlife artist working in the medium of watercolor. “

Creative and adventurous people seem to make up the fabric of Christine’s life. She grew up, as she said, “as an Air Force ‘brat’, travelling all over the world.” Her road map to Tucson had a few detours. She said “I settled in the suburbs of Chicago in the early 70’s when I got married and had one daughter, Jennifer. After being divorced for a few years, I came to Tucson in 1992 to visit my grandmother, who lived here at the time, and I just couldn’t get Tucson out of my mind. So, in July of 1994, I moved to Arizona and have never looked back. I met the man I am married to now, who in actuality is the one who challenged me to paint in the first place.”

Christine comes to the UA after a stint of sailing the sea that was meant to be retirement. “My husband had a dream of retiring to a sailboat in 2004, but unfortunately, fate did not cooperate, and we headed back to Tucson in the Fall of 2005 and I started my job hunt at the University. “ Fortunately her job hunt was successful and Christine added, “I love working at the University.” Not unexpectedly, personal satisfaction and artistic expression are the driving forces in Christine’s artistic endeavors. She has met with commercial success as well. “I have sold some paintings and have hung in galleries, and it is a very heady feeling to have others enjoy your art. But, ultimately, I am my own worst critic, and I have to be happy with what I produce.” Christine plans to expand her painting into various mediums. She said, “I have already tried acrylics, but would now like to try oils and pastels as well. I would also like to try out the new watercolor canvases that are available, which would allow for variability in framing.”

She’s planning for next year’s On Our Own Time and will enter two pieces, though neither of these is yet completed…or even started. But she exudes absolute enthusiasm and we’ve no doubt we will see some stunning new pieces from her at next year’s show. “It was an honor to enter the show last year and to be able to hang with such talented artists that are my peers and coworkers.”

Christine’s transparent watercolor “Desert Beauty” won Best of Show last year and was based on a photograph her husband shot. She said, “To me it was the perfect expression of the love I feel for the desert and all its beauty. I wanted the painting to express the glow of the desert. I will admit to being influenced by Georgia O’Keefe and the statements made by her larger than life flowers.”

Christine’s art has been recognized in several venues. She won 3rd Place at the Southern Arizona Watercolor Guild’s Desert Museum Show in the fall of 2000 and won a ribbon for Best Watercolors at the Oro Valley Art show in spring of 2001.

Do you have an artistic streak just waiting to escape? Be part of the On Our Own Time juried art show!



Find Your Muse

By Susan L. Miller, M.A.

In an effort to encourage UA employees to participate in the juried art show “On Our Own Time”, we are featuring some past winners in a series of articles originally printed in 2009. All of these colleagues balanced a busy professional and personal life and still found time to pursue their muse. So can you!

In uncertain times, what better way to deal with stress than cultivating your creative side? Pick up the old paint brush, dust off your sculpting clay or free your camera from the front hall closet. Get started looking through your pieces now and you’ll have plenty of time to work on your masterpiece.

If you are looking for a role model, a quick look at some of last year’s winners might provide the inspiration you need. We’ll start with Albert Sosa Gonzalez, Ph.D., a 20-year UA veteran who currently serves as Assistant Coordinator of Field Studies at UA South. Albert won First Place for Mixed Media last year with his pen-and-ink rendering.

Albert took a watercolor course here in 1988, but the seed of his passion for art began back in his native Panama sometime around 1983. He said, “I went to an art gallery and was very impressed by some pen and-ink drawings.” Albert studied these drawings and researched more art books on pen-and-ink. Early on he drew anything that interested him, including roof tiles and plants, while he slowly developed a style of his own.

Though Albert has two decades of dedicated employment in at the UA, he looks forward to a long career still ahead of him. His set of 8-year-old triplets (two boys and one girl) ensure that Albert won’t be retiring any time soon. Despite his busy schedule between work and family, Albert plans to continue nurturing his art. His future art plans include combining pen-and-ink with acrylic or watercolor drawings. “I have started to color all of my pen-and-ink work with watercolors and they are more vibrant and exciting,” he said.

Albert is a long-time contributor to “On Our Own Time”. He said, “I have seen it grow from its early years when we had to use makeshift galleries to our present and wonderful setting at the Student Union. It makes participating much more appealing and pleasing.” Last year's winning piece, "Vasco Nunez de Balboa/Ruins of Portobello" was inspired by Albert’s grandfather who died before Albert was born. Juan Bautista Sosa, Albert’s grandfather, was a renowned Panamanian historian and politician and he wrote the History of Panama (Compendio de Historia de Panama). Bautista Sosa also was responsible for the discovery and restoration of the ruins of Old Panama as they exist today and he was on the first vessel to transit the Panama Canal when it opened. It’s not surprising that a keen interest in history came naturally to Albert, given this auspicious background.

Albert read about Vasco Nunez de Balboa, the Spanish explorer who discovered the Pacific Ocean. This discovery paved the way for the conquest of the Inca Empire in Peru. Albert also read about the importance of Portobello (Atlantic Ocean side) and the City of Panama during this time of conquest. The Spaniards would deliver gold from Panama to Portobello and then to Spain until Portobello and Panama City were destroyed by English pirates. Albert said, “I decided to do a drawing of the ruins of Portobello inside the profile of Vasco Nunez de Balboa.”

Albert has received recognition for his artwork in several venues, including previous “On Our Own Time” exhibits and he was honored with a Permanent Art Exhibit at the National Finance Corporation of Panama in the Republic of Panama in 1991. One of his pen-and-ink drawings was given to then Panamanian President, Arturo Del Valle, for his birthday.

Albert credits his wife, Theresa Marisa, and the triplets, Christian, Isabella, and Alberto, for their love, devotion and continued support of his artwork and he encourages all of his colleagues here at the University to submit their own artwork (photos, sculptures, paintings, drawing, etc.) in the next "On Our Own Time" Exhibit. He predicts “You will take great pride and enjoy the moment,” if you participate and added, “I look forward to seeing your artwork!!!”

ALL staff members are encouraged to enter their work in this show. If you’ve not participated before, here’s your chance to get your talent out in the open.


Recycled Art

by Susan L. Miller

In an effort to encourage UA employees to participate in the juried art show “On Our Own Time”, we are featuring some past winners in a series of articles originally printed in 2009. All of these colleagues balanced a busy professional and personal life and still found time to pursue their muse. So can you!

Mary Lor, whose “Trash Can” won First Place in Sculpture at “On Our Own Time”, said “The most interesting thing for me is the experience of art. Being in a studio or workshop is a place where one can connect with their adventure in this world. I remember when I was in high school there were clay studios and wood workshops available to students.” Mary’s innate talent was recognized early and an uncle helped her get into a community college for a painting class before she was even old enough. Mary was influenced by her talented brother who painted and got her thinking about art early on, as well as her grandmother who created some beautiful watercolor flower works that everyone in their family loves.

Mary works currently for what she referred to as “everyone’s favorite: Parking and Transportation” and said, “I’m lucky to be in the best part of that group; “CatTran”. It’s great to be able to drive around this campus and experience all the thinking going on.”

Mary got involved in the UA staff art exhibit when “a coworker and I discovered our mutual interest in textile arts. We came across the “On Our Own Time” exhibit a couple of years ago and kept thinking we should enter one of these times. Well we finally did and I entered a couple of pieces I had made years ago on this campus in a studio space that is now the Marroney Theater.” Mary had been studying business at the time and was able to take a metalsmithing course taught by Michael Croft; a real privilege and as Mary said, “another thing that does not happen anymore. I wonder if kids today have the opportunity to take a class out of their major?”

In sharing the inspiration behind her winning “Trash Can” sculpture, Mary said she was involved in the new recycling program on campus at that time. “It was a concern of mine about the tons of paper being used by computers. Everything was printed on paper and it was an enormous waste. So we were at least recycling it. While I was in metalsmithing class our final project was to express our experience in life or something like that.”

Looking back, Mary said at the time the sculpture seemed a little too blatant. “When it was originally displayed I had a miniature globe spilling out of the trash can.” Recycling this piece for the 2007 On Our Own Time show, Mary said that this was “the first time I had put it in a gallery or anywhere. To have it win was a warm homecoming for that little can and all it represents for me.”

Mary said she may enter again this year with some recent work but she expected the experience would be completely different. She added, “That is what is so wonderful about art. It brings out so much light on the experience of life.”

Do you have a piece that you worked on “back in the day”? Maybe it’s time to let that gem see “the light of day.” (Okay…no more clichés…we promise!) The UA staff’s “On Our Own Time” event is especially designed to showcase the talent of UA employees. Make this your year to get involved.

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Register for the On Our Own Time Staff Art Exhibit – March 1st registration deadline

March 18-April 6 - Student Union Gallery

Opening reception March 18 at Noon


Complete registration form  -  There is no fee to enter the program. Deadline to submit your application is March 1st.


  • Participants must be an employee or an immediate family member of an employee of the University of Arizona, AZ.
  • All entries submitted must be the original work of the applicant completed within the last three years.
  • Not accepted: kits; paint-by number pieces; photocopies or photographs of artwork; magazine or book illustrations, random snapshots.
  • The National Arts Program® and the University of Arizona reserve the right to disqualify entries they consider to be unacceptable or inappropriate for a public exhibit.

The 3rd Annual Exhibit and Awards of The National Arts Program® for University of Arizona Employees and their Families Co-sponsored by The National Arts Program Foundation of Malvern, Pennsylvania, and the University of Arizona.

University of Arizona