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Artist fund-raiser promises fire, stilts, live painting and more!
by: Christina Dore
Carnival of Dreams Friday, March 15th, 8 p.m. • $7 Juggling Gypsy • 1612 Castle St. www.jugglinggypsy.com
STILT DANCER: Mezzanine Kowalski (with Jess James and Shannon Dunne) with stilt-dance at the Carnival of Dreams this Friday night at the Juggling Gypsy. Photo credit: Leigh Moose for Side Yard Studios Photography.
The Juggling Gypsy’s reputation tends to fluctuate in this town. Labels like “hippie hookah place” or “burner dive bar” are pretty familiar to its staff. The old motto of the establishment was proudly known as “where the strange go to be normal,” and indeed the place has always drawn in a diverse crowd. But what remains is a love for creativity, and the “weird” need not be excluded.
“I love this place for a lot of reasons,” Angelo Lambiase, patron and founder of nonprofit organization Wheels That Heal, says. Lambiase has hosted numerous benefits in Wilmington through Wheels, an organization which raises money for cancer patients and the American Cancer Society through car shows and entertainment events. Among others, one of the venues Lambiase always feels he can turn to is the Gypsy.
“The culture it attracts is great,” he says, “but the people I’ve met here have been exceptional. This place has always shown immense support for our cause, and now I really want to give something back to this particular community.”
Teaming with Juggling Gypsy owner Sebastian Gomez, Lambiase and other local performers are collaborating on the Carnival of Dreams, a fund-raiser event for Cape Fear artists, or as active local painter Mezzanine Kowalski describes it: “Wilmington’s chance to be a part of the circus and to support what is innovative in the art world: the odd, the beautiful, the grand scale, and what’s on fire in our own backyards!”
With this fund-raiser, Gomez himself will participates in a fire performance on The Flaming Trampoline. He assures, while the name is somewhat self-explanatory, it is advisable to leave much open to imagination. “What we’re doing is kind of like a live Kickstarter,” Gomez continues. “There’s a community of artists that have great ideas for unique, interactive projects, and we want to see them come to life. The Carnival of Dreams will help these artists raise funds for their creative endeavors and also share with the public eye a culture that has influenced a lot of our work.”
State fairs and traveling circus shows will be the inspiration behind Carnival of Dreams—from nostalgia to brilliant, blinking lights, the pungent smell of funnel cake to the ecstatic screaming after winning a prize, the illuminated colors and dark pastel hues… Whether it’s a 4-year-old or a 40-year-old, there is wondrous appeal for all. Readily available will be a 30-foot inflatable slide and a moon bounce. There will be games, too, like Mr. Imagine’s Amazing Bizarrium Balloon Boom, a dart-throwing, balloon-popping game with a pyrotechnic touch, created by local fire cirque collective Bizarre Entertainment.
“I personally see it as Tim Burton’s Disneyland without the morbidity,” Lambiase laughs. “I think this event will not only help a lot of talented artists, but it’s going to be the best way to introduce the influential culture that has shaped them.The ultimate goal is to encourage creativity from our Wilmington community.”
Performers will abound: sideshow, magic, fire, musicians, DJs, jugglers, comics and all around “freaks.” Artist and performer Mezzanine Kowalski will be appearing as a stilt-walker and will be raffling off one of her live paintings to raise funds for all the participating artists.
“The Carnival of Dreams contains so many elements that I’m attracted to and that show up a lot in my artwork,” Kowalski says. “It appeals to my artistic sensibilities and I love that it’s carnival-based, involves interactive projects and brings the community together.”
Kowalski hopes the Carnival of Dreams will assist artists and also her steam-punk and R. Buckminster Fuller-inspired project: the Beehive Disco Ball, which will “bring an element of [her] paintings into three dimensions in a glowing, spinning interactive lighting to dance under.”
“Through my art, I wish to gather people together and ignite a sense of wonder of the natural world,” she says. “The Carnival of Dreams will promote participation from everyone, and I hope it will bring out people’s inner child.”
The Carnival of Dreams will begin at 8 p.m. this Friday and is open to all ages. Admission costs $7, which will go directly to support local artists in their upcoming interactive cirque-style projects. Tickets can be purchased the day of or at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/350500.
When Lambiase and Gomez first started planning the initial concept for Carnival of Dreams, they wanted it to be a cancer benefit for the American Cancer Society, and to act as a memorial to Lambiase’s late sister, Anita, who lost her life during an arduous cancer battle. They have continued pursuing this avenue by doing a reprisal of the bohemian Carnival of Dreams on March 30th.
“For those who happen to miss the Carnival of Dreams this Friday, have no fear!” Lambiase states. “There will be another chance to experience the same atmosphere and fun at Anita’s tribute and cancer benefit [at the end of the month.] People will still be supporting the art scene here and at the same time, donating their time and funds to the American Cancer Society.”