Snapshots from the Tucson 2000 Gem and Mineral Show
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Art by God - Mineral and Fossil Co-op

It was a beautiful clear and sunny today on Tuesday, January 25th, with an all time record high temperature of 82 degrees. The weather forecasters are predicting partly cloudy to cloudy conditions with highs in the mid to upper 60s towards Friday when a number of the shows officially open, and cooler conditions on Saturday with a chance of rain and snow in the mountains. We'll see how well the prognosticators do...

As I returned home from V-Rock Shop yesterday it was nearly dark. When I passed the Mineral and Fossil Co-op building on Oracle Road just north of the Ramada Inn I noticed they had their lights on and it looked like crews were working late. So I decided to stop by and check out what was happening at the Co-op today. This is another wholesale show requiring a resale license for a gem and mineral business to make purchases from the dealers at the Co-op.

Shown at right is this location 5 years ago when the Co-op's ancestral show was held in a tent, which also happens to be the first show that I reported on during my first Tucson Show report in 1996. The tent was replaced with the fine facility shown below several years ago, and one of the Co-op dealers, Art by God, is now open year around. The growth of the Tucson Show during the past five years has been substantial, with many of the dealers and promoters making significant long term commitments to infrastructure and facilities such as this building.

Art by God occupies a corner area in the front of this building and normally the majority of it is partitioned off and closed. However, when the Co-op opens for the Tucson Show, there is a wide isle down the middle of the building that's lined on either side with various dealers. Banners hanging from the ceiling marked the locations of The Sahara Sea Collection, Art by God, Western Hills, The Bug House, Roseman Mexican Opal, St. Johns Rock, Jule-Art, Jim Gray's Petrified Wood, and Ron Coleman Crystals.

I occasionally come by to purchase items from Joyce Freese, Art by God's Tucson manager, who also minds the store for The Bug House during other times of the year. I knew Art by God would already be 'happening' and hoped to find Ron Coleman Crystals set up and showing, which I did.

Art by God has a rather unusual mix of inventory and some of their merchandise is, well, on the bizarre side. You'll see what I mean...

Art by God has quite a selection of mounted bug specimens. It's hard to appreciate how big some of these bugs are, so I've held a 3.5" floppy disk up against each mount to help give them some scale. Above left is a rather striking collection of beautiful blue butterflies. I grew up on a farm in Missouri where the butterflies were pretty big, but I don't believe I've ever seen any flying around as big as the largest ones in this display. There was a 'Made in Peru' sticker on the case and it wanted $69. There were other sets of butterflies with even larger collections that were not nearly as expensive, but none were as eye catching as the big blues.

In the center is a collection of magnum sized creepy crawlies featuring a pretty good sized tarantula with a leg span of eight inches as the focal point. This collection only wanted $29. At right is a 'Giant Cicada'. I would say so! There was a 17-year cicada cycle in Missouri while I was a child that, even with normal sized Missouri cicada, was a rather memorable event. I'm not so sure I'd want to be around in the middle of one if the 'Giant Cicadas' have a similar cycle. The cicada wanted $14.

It was hard not to appreciate these desiccated piranha, complete with artificial eyeballs and some rather nasty looking dentition There were several bins full of these and the prices ranged from $5 for a 4-5 incher to $24 for a 9+ incher. And how about those 'Gator Head' gars, running 24-30" for $35.

And speaking of gators, if you're still smoking perhaps you you'll be able to relate to these alligator ash tray holders or one of the reclining alligators smoking a pipe. I guess you'd really need one of each so you can have a matched pair. These gators would have been about 3 to 4 feet in length stretched out. $250 each. If those are a little pricey for your, perhaps I could interest you in some Bufo toads at $10 for a small or $12 for a large...

If you like your stuffed fauna on the larger side, Art by God has those too. One wall in their area at the Co-op is covered with mounted big game heads. There were deer, elk, antelope, mountain goats, reindeer, ibex, and some other critters that were indigenous to places I've never been. I saw prices on the mounted heads that ran from $300 to $1000 or so.

If a lion skin rug is your fancy, there's several available here for $1800. I don't think I'll personally ever be in the market for a stuffed gator or dead mammal to decorate my own place, but I guess one man's blashemy is another's religion. However, I do have to admit that some of this merchandise is so bizarre and out of the ordinary I can't help checking it out when I'm here on rock business, and there may just be a place or two on one of my office walls for a Giant Cicada or some Big Blues...

Of course it wasn't all stuffed animals at Art by God. At left are some nuggets of top Chinese turquoise in one of their display cases. These were locked down behind glass and Joyce was pretty busy helping customers so I didn't want to bug her to open it so I could weigh some of these and inspect them up close. Living in Tucson and the American Southwest I'm no stranger to turquoise, or to the truly astronomical prices that top Southwest spiderweb nuggets fetch. This Chinese material looks pretty good and it is a lot less expensive than domestic material of similar appearance, which I have seen priced at $100 per gram and even higher... The largest nuggets in this picture were pushing 3 inches across. Most were priced at between $100 and $200.

This Chinese junk was about a meter in length and carved from jade. How about one of these on your fireplace mantle to replace that cheesy model of 'Old Ironsides'? This carving was imported from China and featured a lot of intricate detail. It wanted $5,800.

Art by God's strongest suite to my way of reckoning is their extensive selection of imported lapidaried items, which includes spheres and eggs along with vases, plates, ash trays, boxes, carved figures and other items. Shown above are some onyx spheres that I thought were pretty nice. If you know what goes into making a sphere and some of these other objects you will also appreciate Art by God's prices. The largest of the onyx spheres were six inchers and they only cost $22 each. The smallest were about 2.75" in diameter and they were $6.50. There were spheres cut from a number of other color varieties of onyx as well, which were also offered at the same prices.

At left is an endcap display populated with marlstone objects. The pedestals were about 3 feet high and cost $325 each. The largest round shaped vases were about 16 inches high and wanted $198. The smallest marlstone vases were about 8 inches high and priced at $39. At center is a close up of one of the large vases which was about 30 inches high. They were commanding $279 a pop.

Art by God, 60 NE 27th Street, Miami, FL 33137 Web: Phone: 305.573.3011

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