A few of our favorite locals put their spin on places to visit.
by Stacey Gregory/Tucson Guide
The mild fall, winter, and spring weather draw people from all over the world to Southern Arizona. This collection of fun and funky residents come from all walks of life, each with a unique perspective on the desert lifestyle and landscape. We've invited a few to share their recommendations to put a local spin on your visit to our wildly wonderful oasis.
Out of all the places in the world, artist, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and international traveler Sloane Bouchever chose to raise his family in Bisbee, Arizona. Born in New York City and raised all over the East Coast, he found himself exhibiting his paintings and working as a fashion model for the likes of Armani and Versace in Europe for a decade, eventually meeting his wife in Zurich, Switzerland. They started a family in Barcelona, Spain, before returning to the US.
"My wife Danielle and I moved to Bisbee in 1991 with our two little kids," said Bouchever. "We were searching for a cheap place to live that offered affordable homes, liberal attitudes, great weather, and lots of working artists."
A man of many talents, he founded more than 20 companies, and as a very early adopter of the Internet, he has been called an eCommerce pioneer. His current company provides encryption services to thousands of online merchants. He and his wife are also international and local humanitarians whose foundation has built multiple schools, medical facilities, libraries, and community centers in Haiti. His most passionate project to date though is the Artemizia Foundation, a contemporary, graffiti, and street art museum and commercial gallery.
"Our growing collection encompasses 700 works of art by 100 artists from 40 countries with a 50-50 ratio of female to male artists, 40% of whom are non-white artists," said Bouchever.
Visitors can see major pieces by Swoon, Banksy, Lady Pink, PichiAvo, LeDania, Cey Adams, and Ai Weiwei. The unexpected collection is one of many surprises in Bisbee, and he shares his favorites with you.
Follow Bouchever Around Bisbee
Bouchever lives in Bisbee due in part to the thriving arts community, with more than 200 artists and many art galleries. A community project known as the Broadway Stairs transformed the alleyway of Bisbee's Brewery Gulch with hundreds of thrift store paintings literally nailed to the walls and fences. International street artist MuckRock (Jules Muck) is a dear friend of Bouchever and has painted more than 60 murals on people's homes and buildings, so he always takes out-of-towners on a "muck-tour." And, of course, visitors will want to explore the new location of Artemizia Foundation in the restored 818 Tombstone Canyon schoolhouse built in 1917.
On the south side of Bisbee is a former open pit copper mine known simply as "The Pit" by locals that he calls a mind-bender. Soldiers, miners, railroad laborers, and other young men started playing baseball in 1909 at the city's historic Warren Ballpark. Explore the city's rich past at The Bisbee Mining & Historical Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate.
"Bisbee has changed significantly over the past 32 years, it's gone much more upscale, but Bisbee is still a liberal oasis in a conservative desert, as we like to say. Local T-shirts simply read 'Mayberry on Acid', " he said.
Bouchever's Tastes of Bisbee
When asked to recommend places to eat, he shared an extensive list. The Copper Pig is his family's new favorite spot and is a neighborhood eatery that serves upscale comfort food. They have enjoyed Cafe Roka's small plates and entrées for 30 years. Dot's Diner is perfect for outdoor Sunday brunch surrounded by vintage Airstream trailers. Must-try dishes include the grilled pork with noodles and the pho at Thuy's Noodle Shop and the Thai Me Up, Thai Me Down pizza at Screaming Banshee. He also says you can't leave out The Quarry for the world's best "Bitchin BLT." And the longest continually run bar in Arizona is still operating—St. Elmo's Bar was established in 1902 and is a beloved dive bar.
"For a tiny town, we're incredibly lucky to have such diverse and wonderful dining and drinking options," said Bouchever.