Saturday June 12, the Kirk Douglas Theater was the scene of the annual “Java Gala” a benefit and performance of the Academy of Visual and Performing Arts. The lobby was filled with friends and parents, silent auction baskets and the eye-pulling art works of many of the students in the program. The year end celebration was feast, not just of all the delicious food donated by all the local restaurants, but of the rich and gorgeous art the students create.
The dance ensemble, the jazz band, the improvisation troupe, the short films, the performance art; they made me smile. They made me gasp. They made me LOL.
My only twinge of unhappiness came from one of my favorite pieces. The performance art piece “The One” made me so happy I almost cried the first time I saw it last year at the “Retirement Bash” at the Senior Center. The concept of the “Retirement Bash” was to take an idea that needed to be removed from the culture, and “retire” it. “The One” by Ahin Ju, Marilyn Liu, and Azalie Welsh was a rippling marriage proposal that sent the three girls out through the crowd adoringly asking for spouses. It was a sweet romp at the original performance, but at the Douglas on Saturday they were actually turned down by people saying “Um, I’m already married…” C’mon, audience members, don’t you know how to PLAY ? You think this beautiful teenage girl is really putting a plastic ring on your finger to keep you ? The artists were flexible and fresh – “Oh, I changed my mind, I don’t really want you.” The idea of the performance was that there is no “one,” love can come from anywhere, can be anybody. But interactive performance art requires an audience a bit more willing to interact than Saturday night’s front row seats. Carry on girls, I will marry you anytime you want to ask me, and then I’ll go and ask someone else. I love art.
As the years go by, don’t miss a chance to engage with these brilliant minds. Never pass by a film by Duncan Ballantine or Katherine Maxwell, don’t forgo a ticket to see Louie Chavez dance or Seth Bronstein play the trombone, do not turn down a concert to hear Kyle and Sara Murphy play violin, check out any gallery offering an installation by Carina Samayoa or Slaveya Minkova. I can’t even say they were the best. they are among the best. There isn’t a slow starter anywhere in the program.
I can’t share with you my enjoyment of every act, but every one showed how these young artists have poured their talent and time into the AVPA program, and reaped benefits. Of course, we can’t begin to imagine what these creative minds will have to offer the world as they grow. I try to attend every AVPA event. They are just too much fun to miss.
This program needs an audience, and support, as much as they need costumes and canvas. So, let’s keep them all thriving, and see what the next amazing batch of creative genius pops out at the AVPA.