Mighty Fine Art
The most ambitious West End Celebration yet draws Los Lobos to help salute the arts.
Thursday, August 19, 2010
“There’s always so many different types of artists,” West End Celebration coordinator Deirdre Bascou says, “and there’s always something new.”
To help commemorate host municipality Sand City’s 30th birthday, this year’s gathering certainly features different types of artists, with as versatile an array of creative expression as the festival has seen, including 50 visiting artists and hours of free performances. But it’s the something new that is, well, something huge: the appearance of world-renowned Tex-Mex blues rockers Los Lobos.
The East L.A. outfit (playing Sunday, 3:30pm) – one of five groups performing West End, including Forrest Day and Persephone’s Bees – represents the crowned jewel of the two-day festivities. For a town where 20 votes wins an election, it’s no small coup to pull a group who performed on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno last week.
Organizers say the group is performing in tiny Sand City to show their support for the organization Guitars Not Guns. About a year ago, the nonprofit established roots in the miniature municipality, becoming the first satellite branch in Monterey County.
Audiences can expect many tunes from Tin Can Trust, the group’s 17th album, and first LP of all original tunes in four years. Like previous releases, this one is as all over the place, from the Latin-flavored “Yo Canto” to the instrumental Cali-surf inspired “Do the Murray.” But it’s tunes like the otherworldly, heart-on-the-sleeve “All My Bridges Burning” that reminds us why we love this band so much.
“Just making music, keep my feet on the ground,” leadman-guitarist David Hidalgo sings, “couldn’t live without it, helps me to stick around.”
“For this record, we decided to let the space be the sound,” saxophonist Steve Berlin told Diablo. “We got into the idea of playing everything live with the entire band. Probably four tracks were recorded on the first two takes, which is kind of unusual, to be able to play them that well that quickly. It was very inspiring to be in a new place, and try a new methodology for recording.”
The album also includes a cover of “West L.A. Fadeaway” by longtime pals the Grateful Dead.
“Back in ’88 we opened for the Dead at Laguna Seca in Monterey, California,” Hidalgo told American Songwriter. “I was invited to sit in with the band and we did ‘West L.A. Fadeaway.’ There was some history with that song.”
In addition to the bountiful live music lineup, West End will also feature Phase 2 of the New Enterprise art project, an ongoing plan sprouted from the mind of Elizabeth O’Malley, the executive director of fine art base.
“The project is about new directions, new processes and new attempts at pursuing our mission in Monterey County,” O’Malley says. “Because of the economy, a lot of nonprofit arts organizations are losing their funding.”
“The project is about new directions, new processes and new attempts.”
New Enterprise catalyzes artists working with other artists to keep art alive by avoiding large overheads – whether it’s by sharing materials or using the natural materials of Big Sur or leveraging the open Seaside Community Center as a gallery space.
Its Phase 2 is a documentary video – about these unique projects displayed in nontraditional rural and urban settings – that will run 11am-5pm on Saturday (the space will be used on Sunday for the CSUMB Youth Film Festival).
Around 75 community members who have been involved with fine art base were invited to leave posts on the forum.
“The ideal art community is high profile and multidimensional,” Paulette Lynch, executive director of the Arts Council for Monterey County posted. “People of all ages and stages of development as an artist have opportunities to produce and present their art form.”
Artist Craig Hubler (who’s directing the signature West End time capsule this year) added, “For me an ideal art community is all about collaboration. We cannot sit at home and hope that someone else will be creative. We must take on the responsibility of nurturing it in our own backyard.”
A number of local students posted to the forum. CSUMB student Robyn Tiffany wrote that her ideal art community “is one where each artist comes together for purpose.”
“We’re just hoping the video will be a mirror for the arts community in Monterey and what their unique voices have been,” O’Malley says.
Organizers hope West End will accomplish much of the same for the artists that live and work in Sand City. One of the many artists that call the small and inspiring community home is Suzka, who along with painting her own works of art is known for designing the stages at the Monterey Jazz Festival.
Suzka is particularly excited about one of Sand City’s newest galleries, Sylvan Design Studio, who she is collaborating with on a couple of pieces that will be showcased at the celebration.
“I like the concept of combining artists’ work,” Suzka says. “You could really create some miracles. With the economy being as bad as it is, it does something to artists – they just go out and start to either reinvent or change.”
One thing won’t change, though: West End will be as lively as it will be artistic.