The Muzeo stands in the heart of the city of Anaheim. Within its main gallery, the Carnegie Building, and Anaheim Heritage Center are contained artifacts and documents which tell the tale of the town's history as well as galleries which display the works of local artists and touring exhibitions. The Muzeo museum and cultural arts center are also available for hosting events, and on the evening of Saturday, March 22, OC Weekly set up shop in honor of its 2nd annual OC People issue.
As the name of the event, Artopia, indicates, this celebration highlighted the arts. Vendors of quality culinary delights as well as those of non-perishables lined the Muzeo's courtyard and occupied some of the gallery space, which was principally set up to showcase the artwork of 10 local artists, who were selected by the public. As it frequently turns out in events such as these, the overall programming can threaten to eclipse the focus on the featured artists. However, since the programming was principally made up of local musicians and vendors, the result was a well-balanced milieu in which patrons of the arts, scenesters, and locals could mill about between the hours of 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The impressive line of folks wanting to gain access to Artopia stretched about 200 ft., through one of its two connecting courtyards, from the entrance of the event to West Center Street Promenade, for an hour before it finally tapered off. Part of the $20 admission fee (or $40 for a VIP ticket) contributed to the operational costs of the event, but the proceeds principally sponsored the 501(c)(3) non-profit Muzeo and its ongoing operations.
Once guests were through the gates, they could sample varieties of free food, use tickets to sample a few drinks (and buy additional ones), and patronize the non-food vendors (including booths featuring: the designer swimwear of Syrup; the men's barbershop, Hawleywood's; and, the smokey stylings of Majestic Hookah and Vapor [what 21st century event wouldn't be complete without the ubiquitous vape shop?]). Of course, as prominently placed as the vendors were, they and their goods were periphery to the featured aspects at this celebration of the arts.
In the main gallery, the spotlighted artists displayed their works and greeted the guests; in the courtyard space between the main gallery and the outdoor VIP lounge, performers provided additional eye and ear candy. The evening started out with DJ Kurtis spinning music appropriate for the backdrop of a gallery opening. The first to hit the courtyard stage was Brit Rodriguez, who plugged her ukelele into the sound system and provided guests with a charming serenade during her 20 minute set. Following her set, the crowd grew slightly more attentive as Moanna Moon and Drew Daria mounted the poles and demonstrated their skills on behalf of their Unveiled Fitness pole-dancing classes (which they describe as pole fitness and dancing for the everyday woman). For the final act, Tapioca and the Flea made more than a few people tap their toes as their psychedelic rock music filled the courtyard and made the residents of the local loft spaces pull their shades aside to take pictures of the band with their cell phones. Though the closing act's sound is somewhat gimmicky and relies heavily on walls of reverberation and digital delay, Tapioca and the Flea is definitely an entertaining band, and it was a nice choice for a grand finale at Artopia.
Most people associate the city of Anaheim with a signature pair of mouse ears. This is fine for tourists and for locals who profit from that association, but there is life below this surface. Some of it can be seen in the numerous formal and informal fiestas that regularly occur in Anaheim's public parks. Some of it can be gleaned from the hearts of the curators who seek to keep the town's history from being buried. And, sometimes, it can be witnessed when the good folks at OC Weekly assemble Anaheim's disparate artists and artisans into a gathering which demonstrates that the town is a culturally rich ecosystem — complete with visionaries, good hearts, and open minds.
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