The Austin Chronicle

From Bloom to Boom

This pop-up gallery fundraiser might just blow your mind

By Kate X Messer, June 17, 2011, Screens

What's in a name? The name of the kickoff to the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival's fundraising year used to be Bloom. This year, it's Boom.

Launched in 2005, the then-springtime event was "named as a metaphor for spring pollination, the germination of the rest of the festival," according to ex-aGLIFF board member (and Chronicle staffer) Brian Carr. "We were soliciting seed money for the year." The fact that it was held those first few years at landscape nursery Big Red Sun furthered the narrative.

Right out of the garden gate, Bloom became known and loved for its lavish spread of finger foods, posh lounge areas, big-ticket raffles, and its focus – not so much film, but the opportunity to explore and connect with other visual arts.

Fast-forward to 2011.

"The name 'Bloom' sounds like a tea party or a luncheon, and this is definitely not that," says interim aGLIFF Executive Director Jason Rosen. "Boom is an exciting new identity. We hope to win back the people who know and love aGLIFF but perhaps haven't been, well, shall we say 'hugging' aGLIFF, at least in terms of supporting fundraisers and events beyond our regular screenings."

This year the fundraiser will see tweaks beyond the name.

"While the spine of [this fundraiser] has always been to offer local visual artists outside of the film community a place to share their stories in the same way the film fest is a forum for filmmakers to share stories," says Rosen, "this year we are expanding the idea of visual arts into a variety of performers, including fire-breathers and contortionists."

The event will still feature more than 45 works for sale from over 30 artists. Artists who donate artwork to the exhibition split the purchase price right down the middle with aGLIFF, so parties on both sides of any transaction remain invested and both benefit.

The work of local artist Marcus Sanchez is becoming familiar to folks who attend local art events. In addition to acting as curator of this year's Penis Project during ArtErotica (hosted annually by the Octopus Club, one fundraising arm of AIDS Services of Austin), his work has appeared at Project Transitions' Red Hot Summer Party and ASA's Viva Las Vegas. "It's great that aGLIFF is highlighting art other than film in our community. It gives artists from a variety of disciplines the chance to network with each other and check out each other's work. For many new or new-to-town artists, it's a chance just to get their names out there," says Sanchez.

This is the first year Sanchez is contributing work to aGLIFF. He's creating a Lotería-themed triptych which will be for sale at the event.

"We can elevate people in our network," says Rosen, "grow that network, and bring queer artists from all disciplines together in this one pop-up gallery. And what we have lined up for this gallery is so 'pop-up,' it's blowing my mind.

"The main purpose of Boom is to bring people together," adds Rosen. "This party has nothing to do with VIP lounges or any sort of exclusion zone. Regardless of what your donor status is, your pocketbook brings, or what your corporate connections can influence, this is a night for everyone to celebrate who we are, together. That's what Boom means to me."

aGLIFF's summer fundraiser, Boom, takes place Saturday, June 18, 9pm-12mid at East Side Stages (3000 E. Cesar Chavez). See for ticket info.

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