Thanks to the Burbank Arts For All Foundation, a beautiful thing happened in Burbank last Saturday night. Actually, very beautiful things: original works of art by celebrities, working artists and local high school students. In a bit of pre-holiday magic, the ATB Studios became a delightful one-night gallery of four-inch by six-inch paintings, drawings, sketches, photos, collages and doodles.
But which of the 800 pieces of art went with which of the 381 artists? Ah, those are the “secrets” that were revealed at BAFA’s second annual The Secret Art Show.
And besides their secret identities, each and every opus had one other thing in common: their creators want to nurture the next generation of artists, whether they fill a canvas or grace a stage. So did the several hundred people who surged through the aisles of art, enjoying the live music, the wine and the food. On a first-come, first-served basis, the art lovers donated $40 per piece. Every penny went to support BAFA’s mission, which is to “ensure that every student in Burbank public schools receives a quality arts education as part of their core curriculum.” (To read more about the huge impact BAFA has made, click here.)
The “secret artists” were revealed after you had chosen your piece and made your donation, and the guessing game was a great part of the fun. If you’re a fan of The Simpsons, maybe you were lucky enough to have picked a piece by Matt Groening. Perhaps a Hitchcock fan had hit the jackpot and had chosen a work by Eva Marie Saint, who co-starred with Cary Grant in North By Northwest, recognized by critics as one of the greatest films ever made. A Pirates of The Caribbean aficionado may have made off with an artistic treasure by director Gore Verbinski.
Or maybe you got a doodle by Conan O’Brien. Or evidence that past Burbank Mayor and current Council Member Jess Talamantes has an artistic side. Or a miniature from a working artist. Or charming sketches from veteran animators hailing from places like Disney, Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon. Or a collage from a talented high school student that made you say to yourself, “Wow. I thought this piece was made by someone a lot older and more experienced.”
And if you were that person surprised by the talent of a teenaged artist, you may have been the luckiest BAFA supporter of all. Especially if you realize that, but for BAFA and the committed people like you that gives it life, that young person may never have connected with their talent and produced the amazing work you’re holding in your hand.
BAFA Board Chairperson Carrie Brown and Board Member Heidi Trotta were visibly pleased at the high turnout for their major fundraising event, already on its way to being a BAFA tradition. (For the story of BAFA’s fundraising success, please see companion piece.) Carrie’s husband and noted character actor W. Earl Brown (“from a long line of bootleggers and used-car dealers—the perfect lineage for becoming an actor,” especially for being in the cast of the acclaimed Deadwood, one might add) was one of the secret artists. Carrie says her husband re-connected with his inner muse on the plains of Texas, in those long in-between waits between film shoots.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that more than one creative outlet can reside in the same person. When the seedling of creativity pokes above the ground, who knows how many branches there will ultimately be? And for some actors, spending time with the pencils and brushes may be a good way to maintain one’s sanity in “the business.”
Local artists like Randall Williams are helping students to find their inner muse while still in elementary school. Williams has taught the afterschool “latch key” program for Edison Elementary, and also helped secure a grant for Providence Elementary to illustrate the history of Burbank on the inside of the school’s community room. “I learned a variety of techniques growing up, and that’s what I try to teach the kids to help them discover their talent,” says Williams.
“Williams is one of many examples of a community of BAFA supporters that go beyond check-writing and give of their time and talents,” remarks Trena Pitchford, BAFA Executive Director. “It’s up to all of us to do what we can and we’re so grateful. Because of our dedicated Arts for All community, our Burbank schools continue to be recognized as having some of the best arts education programs in the county.”
And, as The Secret Art Show revealed, some of the coolest art in the county as well.
“Community and business support for arts education is evident in the amount of work donated, guests who attend and the ‘fun factor’ at The Secret Art Show,” said Board Member and The Secret Art Show co-producer Alexandra Helfrich. “Local creative industries like Nickelodeon, Disney and Warner Bros., along with established fine artists, award-winning illustrators and designers of all types were represented along with amateurs, students and emerging artists.”
“The excitement is seeing it all come together in a great party,” Helfrich continued. “With over 60 volunteers, including every single member of the Burbank Arts for All Foundation Board of Directors and our Secret Art Show Event Committee, wonderful sponsors, and a large number of local businesses who provide in-kind services, we’re able to create a vibrant atmosphere for guests unlike any other event in Burbank.”
BAFA reports The Secret Art Show netted over $30,000 for the organization’s arts education funding program. Remaining artworks from the event are available for purchase online from November 26 through January 9 and can be found here.
Associate Editor Lisa Paredes also contributed to this article.