Touching the Sonoran Desert

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Local entrepreneur produces custom Southwest art for the Arizona Highways Fall Catalog. Touch the Sonoran desert and ol' world Mexican charm like never before.

Imagine.. rain lightly falling as you walk through wide open spaces. All around you is the mystique of vibrant color blooming in a place that appears to be complete desolation. Imagine... you and the desert in tranquil harmony; harmony that whispers Latin music.

This is the kind of imagery custom music box designer and owner of Agave Galleria (, Catherine Martinez has brought to life; from passion to production. "We are very honored to have created a custom music box for Arizona Highways Magazine Fall catalog ( . The Saguaro Cactus Music Box is truly characteristic of Arizona.”

Today Agave Galleria has produced six custom music boxes and has three additional pieces in production. “The excitement of bringing desert dreams that sing a different tune to life has been beyond comprehension,” said Cathy. “We create designs that are custom and work with renowned talented artists that are able to capture the feel of the needs of our clients.”

We asked Martinez, “How did all of this start?” Cathy response was, “Two years ago, my husband (Rudy Martinez) asked me what I wanted for my birthday. I had collected music boxes all my life and many Rudy had given me throughout our marriage. The collection also had three very special music boxes; one my father had given me when I was a child and two my husband (Rudy) and our youngest son had made for me.” “We could never find music boxes that had desert floral or wildlife on them or played Latin music. (As you can imagine Latin music is key to our family heritage.) So, I decided we would just make them,” continued Cathy. And make them they did.

As a former program manager and researcher, Cathy used her talents to find information in virtually every place. Yes, “virtually.” Armed with her computer and telephone, Cathy has put very aspect of the project together without leaving home (Phoenix, Arizona). Within months she had produced the first music box. Martinez commissioned a local resource who is both a student of the desert and talented artist. “The Sonoran desert has always been an alluring subject that we wanted to share with everyone. People think of the desert as dry plants and dirt, not so. The artist has captured the wondrous, serene beauty of desert wildflowers, flowering cacti and wildlife that are indigenous to Arizona, New Mexico, parts of Texas and Mexico in very special ways.”

Quality was and is paramount to the success of the idea so it was virtually off to Italy where she located masters of marquetry, located in Sorrento, Italy. With excitement to her voice Cathy told us, “The Italian artists selected fine burled woods and beautifully colored veneers and then applied their centuries old art to fret each tiny piece together. The look is amazing! They have helped us to produce unimaginable beauty, color and design on each unique box.”

But what about the musical movements we asked? “Great question! We partnered with an international company who would produce custom music for us. We selected five traditional Latin tunes, purchased the licensing and we were off and running.”

We asked Cathy about the new pieces that are about to come out of production but with a coy, warm smile, told us they will be out before the holidays. Martinez did tell us they are working with Southwest artist Lawrence Vargas, Native American artist Bill and Traci Rabbit. “The new boxes are beautiful and wonderfully unusual.” said Martinez.

Agave Galleria is exclusively an online retailer and wholesaler. In addition to the Agave Private Reserve Custom Line, they offer an extensive array of fine gifts and home décor. Included in the selections are: musical jewelry boxes by MDS Prestige Company, music boxes and time pieces from Reuge, rich potpourri by Martin & Barnett, Lawrence Vargas Pottery, Bill & Traci Rabbit, Rita Sholer Watercolors, Blue Sky Clayworks, and more.

For more information on how you can create custom music boxes or to purchase a gift from Agave Galleria, please contact Catherine Martinez at 480-706-4537 or visit the website at

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