In the leeward pool behind a holiday for remembrance, various moments and faces drift. Among them is an encouraging signifier from spring 2018’s last beautiful weekend.
Wonderful weather — breezy, dry and temperate — gave Sunday, May 6, the perfect touch for CoCo Matthews’ NEU DAWN mega-creative mashup. Everything about it exceeded expectation. Matthews’ amalgam of painting, costuming and makeup didn’t just entertain. It injected hope, and not just from the $1,200 it raised for Mobile Arts Council’s arts education efforts. It was more about gestalt.
At some point, I looked across the crowd packed into Sway Downtown and swooned over the happening. The array of personalities and individual styles was striking.
“Doesn’t this entire gathering look like something you would envision in a much bigger city?” I quietly asked an old friend next to me. She agreed.
Good thing Matthews’ original plan of inhabiting a larger, industrial space didn’t work out. Sway’s coziness lent the show bustle and sent the overflow spilling into a gorgeous afternoon and evening.
Well done, Ms. Matthews! Looking forward to the next incarnation.
Speaking of sprawling, warehouse-style spaces, there’s early word about an annual arts shindig inhabiting a roomy new spot this fall. The Mobile Arts Council’s Arts Throwdown will venture from the cozy confines of downtown for the first time.
Its seventh incarnation happens Thursday, Sept. 20, 5:30-9 p.m. at 23 East (1886 Fifth St.) at the Brookley Aeroplex. The 15,000-square-foot event hall is a new venture in a sector of town that’s slowly reawakened over the past decade.
“The great thing about this place is — I timed it — you take Broad Street from MAC and you can get there within 10 to 15 minutes,” MAC Director Shellie Teague said.
The fundraiser has become a welcome sign that hurricane season’s zenith has passed and our cultural season is back in full swing. The umbrella organization’s honcho pointed to herself as the source of the early campaign and relocation.
“I thought, ‘why don’t we do something different, why do we always have everything downtown all the time, in the same places?’” Teague said.
She wanted the event to grow, to add artists to its centerpiece competition, and couldn’t find a downtown venue with the dimensions desired. Her personality is reflected in how she ironed out the Throwdown in record time.
“I’m a planner. The moment you are done with an event, you have your wrap-up meeting and go ahead and set your date for next year,” Teague said.
She decided to chair the event herself this time around, to delegate tasks and get it on a new timetable. She bumped the competing artists up to six — returning champ Devlin Wilson, Ardith Goodwin, Cat Pope, conz8000, Ben Kaiser and Jordan Atchison — and added a live band, Yeah, Probably.
As has been customary, Heroes and Royal Scam will cater. Assuredly, the infamous Red Roosters will flow.
This was all done before March. It was just a matter of knuckling down.
“I was able to move a lot quicker by doing this. [MAC staffers] Lucy [Gafford], Angela [Montgomery] and I can get things done faster,” Teague said.
Then there was the date. When Teague heard about it last go-round, the calendar was already jammed.
“I thought we should go ahead and stake our claim on this date so people can get it in their minds. Other events will happen — a football game or this or that — but they will be like ‘too bad, I’m already going to the Throwdown,’” Teague said.
Tickets will be available soon. An imminent MAC website revamp will make that easier. We’ll see if Mobilians can exercise their memories and stifle their notorious last-minute ticket habits.
Now they can concentrate on building silent-auction items. Another priority will be promotional videos starring the artists, something a few competitors used in years past.
“Previous videos were on individual artists to do but they don’t need to do that on their own. That’s what we should offer them because they’re giving us their time and talent for free,” Teague said.
Next year, another chair can just step into the new cycle. Precedent will make it easier.
MAC has revived Art After Hours and seems to be steaming ahead. The director credits a “great team” working with her.
“We’re in a good place, staffwise, eventwise, planningwise. I’m excited for the fall,” Teague said.
It’s a good thing since she has her own creation premiering soon. Teague returns from maternity leave in July.
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