A Global Roots Fundraiser for the Amala Foundation: Think Globally and Act Locally in Austin

On Sunday June 24th, I attended an inspiring night of community, music and art.

Entrance to CTC Garden. Photo by Lucas

It was the 6th Annual Global Roots fundraiser held at CTC Garden in East Austin to benefit the Global Youth Peace Summit. The event was presented by the Amala Foundation along with CTC International, Urban Roots, The Austin Junior Chamber of Commerce, The Khabele School, and Generous Art.

Indu Agrawal and Tammy Howard with the Amala Foundation. Photo by Lucas

It was certainly a lively and engaging night of live global music. The line up included Bamako Airlines, Minor Mishap Marching Band, Hard Proof Afrobeat. The evening was kicked off with ZaBoomBa: An Interactive Drum Experience, lead by Kenya Masala. He had the crowd drumming in call-and-response style that brought us all into focus.
It was fantastic.

Kenya Masala of ZaBoomBa leading the interactive drum experience. Photo by Lucas

Click here to see ZaBoomBa: An Interactive Drum Experience, lead by Kenya Masala

Vanessa Stone, Founder of the Amala Foundation, (seated left). Ryan Jordan, Executive Director, (standing). Photo by Lucas

There was a silent auction and an art show presented by Generous Art which included work by Jennifer Chenoweth whom I recognized from the East Austin Studio Tours. Aside from being an accomplished artist, she cooks a great Posole, but that’s another blog. Speaking of food, delicious Indian cuisine was available on sight, à la Austin trailer style. I enjoyed a plate of spicy lamb stew and rice among good company.

Face painting with Randi Southard and Laven Blumoff. Photo by Lucas

This year’s Global Youth Peace Summit, August 12-19th will unite 70 youth from 25+ different countries for an 8-day youth summit devoted to cultural exchange, heart-centered dialogue, healing, and exploration of self and world.

Face painting was enjoyed by Talia Masala and friend. Photo by Lucas

As of post date, The Amala Foundation raised $4,000 which will enable them to purchase airline tickets so that two Kenyan youth will be able to attend this year’s Global Youth Peace Summit. While they have yet to raise enough money to cover their passport, visa and scholarship fees, we trust that this funding is on its way ($2500 additional).

Maya Adjani. Photo by Lucas

It was a delight to meet Maya Adjani, of Breathe, Eat, Dance, Evolve and to sample her home-made raw chocolates.

If you feel inspired to help support these youth as well as other under-served, local and international children in their efforts to make a difference in their communities and in their lives, you can make a tax-deductible donation by visit: www.amalafoundation.org/donate.

For more about the Amala Foundation and the Global Youth Peace Summit
visit: www.amalafoundation.org

Blog by Lucas

CsillaWear Arrives on Congress Avenue

Csilla at work in her new retail space.

As part of our effort to expand Austin Creative Alliances’ support of the greater creative community, we are happy to showcase one of our newest, local fashion designers.

CsillaWear at 504 Congress Ave. (at 5th)

I met up with Csilla while she was hard at work cutting fabric for her next pattern. It’s impressive to meet this “hands-on” designer that retains a craft we rarely see in American-made fashion. As a young girl watching her grandmother sew, Csilla soon learned the skill. She explains that her passion for clothing design began while in High School, when she began making her own wardrobe and her own fashion statement. It blossomed from there.

“For my summer job at a local high-end boutique and seeing those cool clothes in the boutique gave her the idea. I put two and two together and bought one yard of fabric here and there and made a new dress or top every day through that summer”.

As a student at University of Texas, Csilla studied Interior Design and subsequently moved to New York to pursue a fashion career. Beginning with studies at Fashion Institute of Technology, lead to an internship with Nautica and eventually full-time positions with Liz Clairborne and Macy’s. After years of working in the corporate world, Csilla felt it was time for a change. With the support of her sister and friends she took the leap and went out on her own. CsillaWear was launched in New York City.

A Night to Indulge in Fashion and Beauty: CsillaWear recently hosted a fitting party to introduce her line to the broader Austin community where woman were invited to try-on the variety of her styles.

Attendees who graciously modeled CsillaWear.

Csilla’s designs are inspired by fabric, movement and silhouettes. She chooses an array of lively, colorful patterns to create fun to wear, elegant designs. Her international background influences her sophisticated styles, while all her creations have a natural, easy fit. Perfect for Austin.

Makeup artist Lecia Harkins.

Professional hair stylist, Deborah Lira and makeup artist, Lecia Harkins of Russ and Company Salon www.russandcompanysalon.com were also on site for all to enjoy a fresh look along with these stunning designs.

If you are looking for fashion with ease, dress it up or down, this is the place to shop, you’ll want to add a few styles to your wardrobe. Stop by and meet the lovely designer behind CsillaWear. Located at 504 Congress Ave. (at 5th St), Austin, TX. Hours M-F 11- 6pm, Saturdays 11-4pm.

Blog by Lucas

Austin Filmmaker Paul Bright on World Premiere of Goliad Uprising, June 21st

Goliad Uprising

I spoke with NYC based Paul Bright about his most recent project, a sci-fi feature film called “Goliad Uprising.” This is his sixth feature film and is set to premiere June 21st at the Spirit Theater at the Bob Bullock Museum in Austin at 7:30 p.m.

Tell me about your film and why you choose the name “Goliad Uprising”?

The film is really a David and Goliath story. It’s about a small underground group of people who are trying to fight a large corporation. Goliad and the name Goliath are so very similar, they kinda suggest alliance. The town of Goliad in Texas where the local citizens were revolting against the government in power at the time, in this case, the Mexican Government. So it has a similar tale in some ways and the local citizens were rising up to assert their rights to gain their freedom. That’s why I thought “Goliad Uprising” was an appropriate title for the film.

How have recent events such as “The Occupy Movement”, “Arab Spring” and the “Syrian Rebellion” all which have been supported through Social Networking sites, make your film more timely?

When I wrote the script it was before anything was coming about in the Arab Spring and certainly before the Occupy Wall Street came into play. The script is about how large media in the United States influencing how people think and feel about whats going on in the world based on the information that they give or that they fail to give.

What I’ve been seeing is that our country has become very polarized in terms of personal opinion but a lot of that has to do with the fact that people aren’t really getting the whole story or balanced views from the media.

Whats going on with the Arab Spring and Occupy Movement is that there is a whole group of people who are rebelling against the people who are in power in each of these countries and It’s very similar to what’s going on in the film “Goliad Uprising”.

The way “Goliad Uprising” originally came about is that I noticed that in the United States, people were starting to protest at political rallies and they were being arrested and tasered and dragged off. I am a bleeding heart liberal, I will gladly admit to that. However, what I was seeing is at these rallies was that people who were not protesting, the people who I thought would be concerned and empathetic to different points of view of those who were demonstrating, were not at all. The security was in fact very harsh to the people who were very silently standing up and protesting.

So I realized that we have a real problem in our own country here…that it’s no longer acceptable to even exercise our first amendment rights of disagreeing and the act of disagreeing somehow becomes an illegal act. and so that is why I wrote this film as a statement of protest of how our society is evolving and starting to accept that we will approve of and tolerate and go along with whatever the people in power are doing.

Goliad Uprising

How do you see Social Networking movements like the “Goliad Uprising” fitting into the plans for your movie?

In the story of the film, the way the rebels, the protesters are getting together is through tweets and online text messages and basically having flash mobs. Same that was going on with the uprisings in the Arab World, the Middle East, is that people were finding a place to protest because it’s so easy and instantaneous nature a lot of this can take place anonymously allows people to gather very quickly and protest. Much can be done without having to risk the full extent of one’s identity. That is very similar to what’s going on in the storyline of the film, people are able to get together rather quickly using social media. In the film, even just the basic nature gathering together just to do this, they put on a performance rallying people around realizing and informing them that the technology is very dangerous. Just the simple act of stating this, is ruled to be illegal. Compare it to a fire in a theater, in the film there are 4 police raids and people are being held down because they are there to protest the power of this corporation.

How do you see media sites assisting you in your endeavor?

It’s about spreading the word. It also gives people a chance to interact back and to give feedback to what their experiences are in life. Social Media has put me in contact with people who have seen his films literally, all over the world. I hear from them what they think about the movie and what issues are going on in their lives, their concerns. By interacting this way and commenting on each others’s posts with the these people in the greater community, separates it from broadcast media which simply puts the news out there and there no way to hear your audience.

In the film world, what has happened very recently, within the last couple of years, is that filmmakers are starting to realize that the only way that we can do our work is with the support of our community.

This film, “Goliad Uprising” was funded entirely by donors who came to him through his social media contacts, through Facebook none of which he knew personally, at all. This was all from people who he meet online and who have supported his work in the past by watching it and wanted to see me continue to make these stories that they relate to that mean something to them.

Why did you choose Austin for the premiere?

Well that’s a no brainer, Austin is where the film was shot, there are 97 actors in the film and most of them are from Austin and it is where I have shot my previous 5 films. Austin is known for being a really cool town and very receptive to film.

Goliad Uprising Filmmakers

Yes, Austin has a reputation for being loved, people say good things about Austin.

For detailed information on the screening go to: www.nowplayingaustin.com/event/detail/441586509/GOLIAD_UPRISING_World_Premiere

Also see Facebook page: /www.facebook.com/goliaduprising

Blog by Lucas

Interview courtesy of AM/FM Magazine

“ART FOR LIFE’S SAKE” : Habitable Spaces Project, Kingsbury Texas

Shane Heinemeier and Alison Ward. Photo by Lucas

Habitable Spaces Project is a self-sustaining farm and artists residency in Kingsbury Texas, located about one hour South East of Austin and occupies approximately 120 acres.

Kitchen Structure. Photo courtesy of Alison Ward

I spoke with the founding directors, Alison Ward and Shane Heinemeier. Shane is a native Texan and painter, Alison is a sculptor, performance and video artist. Together they bring a range of resources, talent and experience to the project. The idea for Habitable Spaces Project began in NYC, where they both participated in the artists collective/residency program at the Flux Factory, www.fluxfactory.org

Alison had another “off the grid” experience at the Waterpod Project, www.thewaterpod.org While living on a barge for five months, she with the other inhabitants embraced community living, self-reliance, resourcefulness, human expression and creative exploration. “Working in a collective atmosphere with other artists was informative and inspiring” and this is what fuels their vision for the Habitable Spaces Project.

The Habitable Spaces Project was Alison and Shane’s “natural next step” in their evolution as artists. They believe this project can bring awareness to the greater art world by example, “Art as Life, Life as Art”. “Alison explains, “Art has become separated from life and is isolated in museums and galleries.” Habitable Spaces Project will offer an experience of “living art” by making every action thoughtful and creative. An example of this maybe in the way one chooses to farm, compare this to how a painter might contemplate a stroke on a canvas.

Dave Perez, de-barking wood posts. Photo courtesy of Alison Ward

Habitable Spaces Project offers a place for artists to expand on their creativity and integrate this with everyday living on the land. It’s a place for exploring new techniques and practices by implementing sustainable solutions.

Ben Devoe and Dave Perez, traveled from NYC and were the first team on site to construct the initial structures at Kingsbury. Their task was to build shelter and work spaces while living off the land. Building required resourcefulness, using mostly dead trees left from the previous years drought, which served as posts for the kitchen structure and were tied with rope. Scrap pallets from a local business served to build a tool shed. Dave Perez tells me that “Living off the land and hunting for food heightened his experience of survival, this experience really brought everyone together.”

Still in early stages of development, there is hard work ahead. Water, outhouses and recycling need to be thought out. To follow the progress of the Habitable Spaces Project, or to get involved, go to http://www.habitablespaces.org

Blog by Lucas

“The Backyard” VIP Party Launches 2012 Season

By invitation from Deborah Fleming, President of Famosa Entertainment, I attended the 2012 VIP, season kick-off party hosted at “The Glenn”, the backstage area of “The Backyard” on Thursday evening, April 19. I had the great pleasure of meeting some influential people who make music happen here in Austin.

John Paul Dejoria and Lucas

Our hosts, owner of “The Backyard” and famed concert promoter, Tim O’Connor (Direct Events, Zona Rosa) with philanthropist, music lover and Austin resident, John Paul DeJoria (Paul Mitchell and Patron), served Wahoo’s fish tacos and presented live music talent, Zack Walther and The Cronkites.

“The Backyard” is an impressive outdoor venue, now in their third season at this location on Bee Caves and 71 and provides easy access from all points in Austin. “The Backyard” serves the greater Austin community by providing a “down home” atmosphere making it a comfortable venue for all to enjoy. It’s a place where you can bring the whole family, it’s kid friendly and eco-conscious. The intention behind this unique venue, is to bring people together and make them feel like they are a part of something. Not unlike days at the Armadillo World Headquarters where people could relax, enjoy and catch great acts.

Tim O’Connor and Lucas

We feel that as the world progresses, and the frequency rises, that people have to feel more down to earth, and feel the earth and be at home. We feel we’ve accomplished that here with this unbelievable site – John Paul DeJoria

Keep an ear out!  The scope of talent being presented at The Backyard promises to deliver. Talent includes both local and national acts, known as well as up and coming artists. The first show this season opened on Saturday the 21st, with Willie Nelson, Paula Nelson and special guests. Check out the full season lineup at http://thebackyard.net/2011/

“The Backyard” is tailored for our community so come be a part of the history and future of music that Austin prides itself on. Thanks to the people behind the scenes who keep the music playing!

Blog by Lucas

Women Creatives in Austin

Displaced 5 by Jennifer Balkan

According to the U.S. Library of Congress, “Although women now outnumber men in American colleges nationwide, the reversal of the gender gap is a very recent phenomenon. The fight to learn was a valiant struggle waged by many tenacious women—across years and across cultures—in our country.”

Woman’s History Month is celebrated every March.  This year’s theme was “Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment”. Inspired by this, Austin Creative Alliance is highlighting four dynamic women in the arts as we continue to celebrate women’s achievements throughout the year. In reaching out to these women, we discovered
diverse perspectives about the creative culture that thrives in Austin.

I’ll begin by acknowledging the women at Austin Creative Alliance and Now Playing Austin who provide invaluable services to promote the greater arts community in Austin. To learn more about Austin Creative Alliance go to: www.austincreativealliance.org

In the following interviews, we hope to convey insights and achievements that will inspire other woman in the arts. I presented a list of questions that revolved around this theme.

  1. As a woman in the Arts, how do you see the future for Women’s Education – Women’s Empowerment in the Arts?
  2. How can we empower and educate woman to be leaders in the Arts?
  3. Can you describe some obstacles or hurtles you have confronted in your own career as a woman in the Arts?
  4. What insights or suggestions would you have for aspiring woman in the Arts?

I spoke with Catarina Sigerfoos, Chairwoman and Fundraiser of Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAMM) Benefit Day 2012.

Catarina Sigerfoos: These are two organizations I like and respect in Austin who focus on empowerment for women. They are heavily supported and active. Women and Their Work Gallery, is a fantastic gallery that is run and supported by the community, but only features work by female artist members.

There is also an organization called WIMPS, Women In Music Professional Society, www.facebook.com/wimpsaustin. I belong to this group of women who work in all facets of the music industry. We network monthly and meet working musicians, graphic artists who design cd covers, attorneys and accountants who practice music law and accounting, composers, band managers, music supervisors, and many more. We each get a minute to stand up and tell our story and recruit, inform, and educate about classes, gigs, workshops, auditions and opportunities.

We can support existing agencies whose agenda is in place. The way to do this is by joining and helping with outreach and donations in some cases.

The music industry has been male-dominated as a whole, but since I grew up in the music world (I am related to approximately 20 working musicians), I have been lucky to know the jargon, trials, and successes of working musicians. Occasionally I have heard of certain music genres not being open to female leads, and sometimes, age is an issue for more seasoned artists, especially females.

I think young aspirants should find a mentor, either in the literal sense, or seek someone on the internet who’s style they respect, and try to learn from them. Try to narrow the search so it is very specific to their goals and resonates with your their personal beliefs and approach. Find a strong woman who has succeeded in the field and read about her accomplishments and methods. Imitate and practice until it becomes your own style. For more about  Health Alliance for Austin Musicians, (HAMM) go to: www.myhaam.org

Sherry Mills, formally of “Reel Woman”, who is now retired from her position after serving as the Executive Director for ten years. Since June of 2011 the organization is no longer in operation. Sherry now hosts a radio program, “Ready for My Closeup, Ms. Mills” on KOOP.

Sherry Mills: I think it will continue to grow as an integral component of all arts education. There will always be many programs that are not gender specific, but I don’t believe there is any disadvantage or stigma to having female-focused opportunities.  Women think, feel, act and learn differently from men; and because of personal history and/or cultural history, they will often taken a subordinate role in a classroom or work situation.  As women continue to become clearer about their personal capabilities and aspirations, they will insist on the highest levels of instruction and experience, which means that they will seek out successful, respected teachers and mentors but will not limit themselves to programs that are not inclusive or that don’t offer them the opportunities they need. In working with women of all ages, at all levels of experience in trans-media, many of them performed and learned much better in the all-female environment. They profited immensely from being around the professional female filmmakers, writers, producers, directors, makeup artists, casting directors, agents, etc. who became role models and inspirations to them.

We can support woman in the arts by nurturing, mentoring and giving them opportunities to perform, learn and participate.

Looking back, I believe I created many of them for myself! In a group of men I would generally take on stereotypical female tasks such as being the coffee/food getter/provider, the note-taker, the clean up crew, the one who might not say my opinion because of either the fear of being judged or because I might hurt someone’s feelings. I still do those things sometimes, but it’s certainly with a different attitude because I want to lead by example. I do think that there were situations where I wasn’t paid as much as the guys.

I find that many young women take the attitude of “I want to do/be … (fill in the blank)” without doing necessary research, without being honest with themselves about their personal limitations, without putting in the training/learning time.  For example, I knew a young girl with minimal experience that spent time and money on head shots but was doing very little to develop her acting skills. There is the person that “wants to be a writer,” but they’ve never written anything.  Same for some aspiring directors. I studied theatre in school, and I thought I would be an actress; a little time invested in that direction proved to myself, that I was too sensitive to handle so much rejection. I wasn’t outgoing enough to promote myself properly and I realized in that process, that I enjoyed the behind-the-scenes much more than performing. The defining fact is that I recognized I wasn’t a very good actress!  I say to everyone: Invest the time. Do the research. Study. Practice. Learn. Volunteer. Seek out professionals, mentors, role models. Challenge yourself. Pick your battles; know when to back down.

After I left Reel Women I felt like I was in recovery from a divorce or breakup or serious illness or life tragedy. I knew it was the right thing to do, but it was still very painful.  Luckily, I was able to have the time and opportunity to get involved in radio and to use the knowledge and resources I’d gained in a new way.  Learning the FCC regulations, how to operate all the dials, boards, audio equipment, microphones, etc. Being the “new kid on the block” and having to prove myself all over again was a challenge, to say the least; but it challenged me and gave me validation as well as exercised my brain.

I have an intern now — her name is Paloma.  She is not a KOOP intern — she works (unpaid) just with me.  She had wanted to be a Reel Women intern and very diligently, but unsuccessfully, tried to contact the organization. Somehow she tracked ME down and left a voice message, which I didn’t respond to. She called me two more times, so I finally called her back and explained the RW situation.  She was very disappointed and then asked me what I was doing now, which she found very interesting. To finish the story, she has been working with me now for 8 months, getting involved in everything I do. She’s meeting so many people, going to special events and getting involved in projects.  Smart girl!
Listen to Sherry on the radio: “Ready for My Closeup, Ms. Mills!” Mondays, 1:00-1:30pm, on KOOP, 91.7, streaming LIVE at www.koop.org

Salvage Vanguard Theater is hub for Austin artists, audiences, and arts organizations. SVT creates and presents transformative, high-quality artistic experiences that foster experimentation and conversation.

Jenny Larson: I think it is a “one step forward, two steps back” situation. Certainly more and more women arts leaders are emerging but on a whole, more men are in charge and more male playwrights are being produced on a national level, heck, on an international level. Roles for women are slim and POSITIVE roles for women in theater storytelling are few and far between. I do think that with each generation women find more and more empowerment and voice in leadership but its a slow and steady growth, slow and steady change. The current political climate certainly makes me stop and re-evaluate exactly how much progress we have made…

That is a giant task, and as the single mother of an 11 year old girl I can tell you that the task starts when they are young. It takes no small amount of vigilance to ensure that our daughters and our next generation of women arts leaders do not fall into the “traps” of femininity. I am currently reading the book Reviving Ophelia so my thoughts are in a place right now of really trying to help my daughter hold on to her true self. I think the more our daughters learn to hold on to themselves the better chance we have of growing more women arts leaders.

You create the life the job the career the path that you want to have. Do not let fear stop you and do not get stuck in thinking that you can’t or thinking that the obstacles are too large. I have never been a goal oriented person or much of a planner, so for me, my stumbling into a position of leadership was just an opportunity offered that I decided to take. When I look at my life in general, that is what it has been, a series of opportunities taken. So keep your eyes peeled for the opportunities. Volunteer for artists that you admire, get close to them and let them know you are passionate. Be dependable. See other peoples work. Read. Read a lot. Read other peoples work. Travel and see work outside of your community. It is easy to fall into ideas of the way you must live your life, and in the arts its very important to be creative about how you live your life and creative about how you make a career for yourself. Austin does not have a wealthy arts community so most of us are working 3- 5 jobs to make ends meet. We are also living very humble lives in order to stay in the arts. This re-examining your needs and your consumption as a human in the world is also integral to a career in the arts. Be humble and need little. For more info go to: www.salvagevanguard.org

Women & Their Work is a visual and performing art organization located in Central Austin that serves as a catalyst for contemporary art created by women living and working in Texas and beyond.  For over 30 years, W&TW has brought groundbreaking art to Austin, with exhibitions,performances, literary readings and educational workshops.

Chris Cowden: More women are majoring in studio art and are going on to earn Masters of Fine Arts than ever before. While women have achieved near parity with men in their educational accomplishments, they still lag behind after they graduate. Today, women earn 81 cents for every dollar a man earns in the same position. (It has improved in the last 20 years–women used to earn 75 cents for every dollar a man earned.)  However, the pay ratio is even worse in the arts. This is the biggest challenge for women seeking careers in the arts in the future–to  achieve equal opportunities for employment, for exhibitions of their work, and for pay.  Also, their work historically sells for much less than male artists.

Young women can learn to be leaders by seeking mentors whose leadership style they admire.  Often becoming an intern can provide excellent opportunities to work with, observe, and emulate women who have succeeded in their field.  There are a number of women who direct galleries and museums who can serve as powerful role models for women who seek to follow their career path.

Women & Their Work was founded in 1978 when there were very few opportunities for women in any artistic discipline. Organizations such as W&TW created their own possibilities outside the established hierarchy. I was not involved in the founding of the organization so I didn’t have  to do any of the really heavy lifting that had to take place to make this a successful art organization. I spent my early career working in academia and then in a large corporation on Wall Street. The biggest difficulty was being taken seriously. I think the best thing to realize is that you have to take yourself seriously–but not too seriously.

I always remember Meryl Streep’s advice to the graduating class of Vassar, her alma mater.  She said  to integrate  what you believe into every area of your life. To take your heart to work and ask the most and best of everybody else. And preserve your own special character in the world. That seems great advice for any field –maybe especially the arts. For more info go to: www.womenandtheirwork.org

Blog by Lucas

Rachel Ray’s SXSW 2012 Annual Feedback Party at Stubbs

Rachel Ray

Rachel Ray has been hosting her party at Stubb’s for the past three years which showcases her culinary skills and her husband’s musical talents.

Rachel Ray MC’s

Lines formed well before the doors opened at 10:30 am filled the large open air venue. Rachel “Twittered” that about 5,000 people were in line by 9:00 am.

The Cringe with John Cusimano

John Cusimano (Rachel’s husband) and his band, The Cringe played. During the set, Cusimano invited his friend, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top to the stage.

Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top

Gibbons later signed a guitar that will be auctioned off on Ray’s Facebook page for her favorite cause. This was the first year that Feedback fell on St. Patrick’s Day and there was plenty of free drinks to celebrate.

On the menu

The crowd waited in line for three hours to try the dishes Rachel created especially for
the party: mini corn dogs, brisket on biscuit, sloppy turkey sliders and my favorite,
vegan nachos.

Rachel enjoys the show

Rachel came off stage to shoot photos of the bands and the crowd and appeared to be very approachable just like her public image. I loved the atmosphere, the music and great food. Rachel knows how to throw a party!

Blog by Lucas