It’s Really All About Giuseppe Verdi

Thanks to Max Parrilla for the complimentary tickets to the San Antonio Opera’s staging of Rigoletto. I happened to be at the right place at the right time when he called a mutual friend in search of a specific type of adapter for a data cable. The mutual friend didn’t have the item, but I did. So, I drove the little piece of plastic and metal to the Municipal Auditorium downtown…and so I got a couple of free tickets!

I invited Deborah, and we had a pleasant evening of angsty, 16th century unrequited love (sadly, a poignant topic for me).

I was a bit taken aback to see only about 500 people in attendance in a 5,000 occupancy hall–and on the opening night, no less. I also found myself a bit perplexed at how few people I recognized at this upper-crust art & cultural event. This seems to happen to me on those infrequent occasions I attend the ballet and the symphony in San Antonio. However, Friday night I did spot artist Terry Ybañez, as well as actress (and singer and dancer) Anna Gangai (you might know her from Erik Bosse and Russ Ansley’s 2008 Luminaria short film, “The Prometheus Thesis”). But the bottom line is that I just don’t seem to travel in the tonier circles.

An amusing aside concerning the Municipal Auditorium (which I learned is a temporary home for the Opera until the renovations are completed at the Lila Cockrell Theatre): last week I met with a promoter of an upcoming cage fight event which will be staged at the Municipal Auditorium. It looks like I’ll be working that night as a paid member of the crew. I just hope I don’t get tossed into the cage. Because without a metal folding chair and a wily and buxom confederate to catch my adversary’s attention, I’m afraid I’m not much of a fighter. But I was pleasantly amused as to the diversity of events being staged at the Municipal Auditorium.

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Saturday night I attended wedding number two of the three I’m slated for this month. I was hired as the paid videographer. My friend Ramin, who was working the wedding as the still photographer, brought me in.

It was fairly standard fare. This means a damn long day. The real pain in the ass was that it was a Catholic wedding. This means that because I’m not fucking holy enough to stand on the stage, um, I mean the altar, I have to set up my camera at a crazy, oblique angle. This is made worse by the fact that the bride and groom spend almost all the time facing the priest. We get a great view of that holy guy, but the real important people–you know, who everyone came to see–well, they’re showing us nothing but back, scalp, and ass.

Catholic weddings need a good stage manager.

And that’s all I’m gonna say about that.

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Sunday was the big day of judging the works submitted to the Josiah Youth Media Festival. We had seven judges this year. Catherine and George Cisneros (artistic and musical directors, respectively, of URBAN-15); Marcus and Nancy Neundorf (the parents of Josiah Neundorf, the brilliant filmmaker who died tragically young, and for whom the festival was named); Janet Vasquez (tireless supporter of the arts in San Antonio, as well as the Location Coordinator for the San Antonio Film Commission); Amanda Silva (actress, filmmaker, one-time host and producer of the Silva Screen, a local TV show spotlighting San Antonio filmmakers); and myself (and here, for my bio, I’ll use the short form as used by Drew Mayer-Oakes, the San Antonio Film Commissioner: “Erik Bosse is, um, something of a man-about-town”).

We set up a buffet, some tables, comfy chairs, and we hunkered down for five and a half hours of watching about 45 films, ranging in length from 45 seconds to 20 minutes.

George and I had previewed all the submitted pieces, which was over a hundred. We functioned as a filter to keep from subjecting the judges to an additional 6 hours of films of a lesser quality. But George and I, who have seen all the submissions to this festival for the last four years, are enthusiastically unanimous in recognizing that this year is the best crop yet. Through our increased outreach, the bar has slowly yet steadily risen.

I hope the handful of people who read this blog and who also live near San Antonio can make it to at least one night of our three night event. July 8, 9, 10. Each night will be a different program.

These kids kick ass!

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I started my Tuesday off over at URBAN-15, helping Steven add up the numbers from Sunday night’s scoring. Steven Garcia is a recent addition to the URBAN-15 staff. He’s a very capable and competent guy, and because of this, I forget that he’s also pretty damn young. For those theater and film nerds out there, Steven is the brother of the great actress Samantha Garcia….who inexplicably moved away to some place called Chicago.

But around noon I had to head out. I picked up Deborah and drove to the humble westside taqueria where the Proyectos Locos team meet to discus our projects, whether they be individual or collaborative. Ramon, the third member of our loco group was waiting.

The three of us are putting together an event on the westside. This October we will be producing Noche de Recuerdos, a night of floating, illuminated altars on the smaller casting pool of Woodlawn Lake.

The three of us were there to meet our fiscal sponsor. Ramon’s son, also Ramon (some confusion there), runs a small, successful cultural non-profit organization, AIT-SCM (The American Indians in Texas at the Spanish Colonial Missions). He gave us some pointers on how best to retool our proposal so that his board will warm to our proposed event.

We can expect some funding from AIT, but not enough. We–the Locos–have about four funding schemes to flesh out the rest of the costs.

The most important thing to come out of today’s meeting: this event will happen!

That’s pretty cool!

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Later on Tuesday, I headed over to the Southwest School of Art and Craft for a Luminaria meeting–it was titled, in the email, as the “Luminaria Visioning” meeting. I found myself at the table with 19 other people. The full list of invitees was 28.

It’s strange that I was on the steering committee for Luminaria 2009 and 2010, and yet I don’t know who the current board members are. I don’t even know how many. Is it five? Seven? Recently I learned a board member had resigned. When his name was mentioned (and I know OF him) I was surprised, because I didn’t even know this person was a board member. Now I want it made clear that I’m not really interested in who is on the board of this or that organization, but, when I click over to the Luminaria website, there is nothing about the leadership–not the board, executive committee, nor steering committee. The Luminaria website is appallingly deficient of real and important information.

But back to the meeting. It lasted four hours. We got some important work done. Those of us who were at the table were mostly good people with a respect for one another and a respect for the arts. (Hell, even some of the attendees are artists–though not as many as I’d like to have seen.)

The next two weeks are crucial. We’ll be working to interface with the mayor’s office and propose a new leadership structure. But our advice is only useful if it’s embraced by both the major (and his staff) and the Luminaria board.

I had entered the meeting fearful of conflicting agendas (such as giving the sponsors too much power over the programing: the danger of partnering with other art and cultural institutions with divergent notions concerning the presentation of public art and performances: and the desire by some to shift the entire event so that ART is only incidental to a larger schema)–but it seems that we might be able to move this wonderful event into the future without too much corporate compromise and institutional bickering. Luminaria is at a crucial crossroads. It seems that there is enough political and fiduciary willpower to make a spectacular 2011 event happen. My biggest concern is to keep key members from the arts and cultural communities (whomsoever they may be) at the table during all important discussions as we move into the new logistical and leadership structure of Luminaria 2011. As antithetical to my sensibilities are all things capitalistic, I’m enough of a realist to know how crucial it was to have the serious and committed financial sponsors at Tuesday’s meeting. They do need to continue to be at the table. Art and commerce, in this case, need to constantly be reminded of one another’s perceptions and expectations. Things seemed to be basically warm and collegial by the end of the meeting.

But time will tell.

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