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Thursday, April 18, 2013


 CHERISHING OUR VALLEY               2013

By Carolyn Uhri

Today I realized that it only takes forty-eight hours to make friends with someone.  I’m talking about a good, solid friendship.

It started with our “A Manifesto for Murals” event last night and ended with an opportunity to speak frankly with Councilman Englander in his City Hall office at today’s ArtsDay L.A.

Kent Twitchell, Judy Baca, Levi Ponce, Isabel Rojas-Williams and Felicia Filer…artists, activists, educators and art supporters.  Seeing these names written on paper is pretty powerful…to know that we had pulled together the best of the best was quite an achievement. But seeing them all together in one tiny room upstairs at The Madrid Theatre was absolutely mind blowing.  It was transcendent.

World famous muralist Judy Baca visits with the new Valley video artist and mural painter Levi Ponce. Both painters have childhoods in Pacoima in common.   (Photograph by Phyllis Hansen. Click on images to enlarge them.)


The great Kent Twitchell (left), Isabel Rojas-Williams leader of the Los Angeles Mural Conservancy and Judy Baca at The Museum's reception prior to their panel presentations. (Photo by Phyllis Hansen)

Maybe it was the close proximity at our intimate reception, or maybe it was simply the camaraderie in knowing that we were all there for the same thing…to support mural art.  The tone of the talk was uplifting, hopeful, passionate and even a little reverent.  Throw in some wine and healthy fare from Follow Your Heart (our sponsors) and the formula was definitely a winner.  Top it all off with a little jazz from Center Stage Opera and we had them hooked.  It was going to be a very good night.

Center Stage Opera star entertains and thrills guests at the Mural Manifesto reception.
(Photograph by Phyllis Hansen.)

Downstairs, the audience waited anxiously.  Scott Sterling set the mood with his gracious introductions and wit-filled banter.  The panel discussion itself was simply amazing.  Everyone who attended was riveted to what our panelists had to say.  Dr. Jerry became both teacher and moderator and even had the panelists nodding their heads in agreement.  I felt like I was back in college, soaking up all the knowledge.

Jerry Fecht, Ph.D. and immediate past president of The Museum of the San Fernando Valley moderated the Mural Manifesto panel.

After the discussion ended and questions from the audience had been answered, there was no doubt that they wanted more.  The crowds moved in to talk to our panelists, take photos and tidy up the loose ends of the evening

There was only one problem that night.  No one wanted to leave.  The lobby was full, spirits were high and we all walked out knowing we had made new and important friendships.

The next morning, I headed out on the Hollywood Freeway to attend ArtsDay L.A. 2013 at City Hall, sponsored by Arts For L.A. and Danielle Brazell.  I just barely made it into the council chambers on time.  It was standing room only.  I was in awe of the beautiful architecture of this room.  Tom LaBonge (District 4) was his usual jovial self and really got into the spirit of this celebration of the arts.  Councilmen Rosendahl, Huizar, Reyes, Buscaino, Koretz, Krekorian, Zine and Englander all gave wonderful speeches about what the arts mean to them.  This was all recorded by the City and I was able to relive it on TV later that evening (Channel 35).

Roger (Dolin) and I kept bumping into people we had met at the mural event, or others we had met at other functions.  We experienced this wave of friendship…this urge to want to work with these people we had just met and where we ended our short discussions with hugs.  I thought to myself, “How could it get any better than this?”

Roger and I then headed to the media presentation where we worked on specific exercises to help us focus on how to approach our councilman.  After that, we were treated to a lunch upstairs in the Tom Bradley Tower Room on the 26th floor and a speech from Mayor Villaraigosa.

We headed down to Councilman Englander’s office and were able to speak one on one with him about the issues that concern us.  We shared this time with representatives from the Valley Performing Arts Center and Twisted Gypsy (a drumming group).  Mr. Englander gave us the low-down on the mural ordinance and how difficult it was to get to a final version.  We also talked about the Museum, SFV Arts Council and Valley Arts Alliance and how we could find a permanent location.   There was talk of creating an art based oversight committee which could report to him and he, in turn, would work with us on various projects within his district.  Another friendship forged.

Forty-eight hours to make great friends.  That’s all it takes when it concerns the arts.

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