In a city with so many theaters, so much music, so much incredible architecture and so many nationally recognized restaurants, it can be hard to stand out as an artistic organization. What will make you exceptional? Fancy cocktails are everywhere and after a while all arts organization fundraisers blur together, unless it's a Redmoon Theater fundraiser.
On Saturday March 15th, I attended Redmoon's "Scale of the City - Spectacle Lunatique 2014" at the theater's headquarters on the South side for what was an experience that stays with me even now. Redmoon seeks to intentionally open our minds to take in all that is possible and all that is wonderous within us and around us. Redmoon invites us in to be a part of the mystery that is the human imagination. The Spectacle Lunatique Gala was no exception.
Stated best by Producing Artistic Director, Frank Maugeri "Redmoon's mission is to create celebrations and spectacles at the scale of our city which generate and galvanize community... and that is what our gala did... create a monumental experience that was dream like, fantastic and interactive driven by our complex mechanical and gorgeous aesthetic resulting in moments of unexpected surprise and overwhelming joy. The evening accomplished its financial goals and will support manifesting our free work that we are uniquely known for, this summer in over 15 south and west side neighborhoods."
Located at their home HQ between the Pilsen and Chinatown neighborhoods, the festivities took place in the two level warehouse and featured gymnasts maneuvering on pulleys, bringing down appetizers from the sky at your request, violin playing bears serenading the guests, theatrical bicyclists riding contraptions that poured wine as they rolled by and ladies wearing big tables moving throughout the evening offering goodies for the taking. A man wearing a fish head blew out bubbles as he walked loftily through the party to usher in the sushi appetizers. Ladies wearing big top hats with truffle cakes as big as your palm crouched down low to let you pluck your preferred pound of plump from their brims. The revolving BBQ platform featuring at least 6 grills spun 'round and 'round handing out plates of chicken and rice, while the silent auction offered unique opportunities like sitting down with Schwa Chef Michael Carlson for an intimate tasting. My personal favorite was playing pool with a big, burly (and loveable) bear.
Along with 8 chef stations (312 Chicago, Dusek's, Embeya, Flemmings Prime Steakhouse, Nightwood, Schwa, Tuesday night Dinner, Vera) and almost as many mixology stations, there were also several bars and an ever-flowing Manhattan fountain. All this, plus a rocking DJ who took us as all late into the night!
Hopefully the above helps you understand how Redmoon aims to turn life on its head so that we see the world anew. And they succeed. Always. At the mid-March Spectacle, Redmoon turned a blank slate of an old warehouse into a trip down the rabbit hole for a truly, other-worldly, fantastical, Alice-in-Wonderland type experience. We went willingly.
Redmoon reminds us that the world is a big place, that ingenuity is important and that we are only as limited as we let ourselves be. Most importantly, Redmoon gives us art that is memorable. As the great musician Yo Yo Ma has said in interviews on the Internet, "Once something is memorable, it's living and you're using it. That to me is the foundation of a creative society."
In helping to form Chicago as an innovative creative society, Redmoon does us an important service. Successful Chicago businessman and Redmoon Community Galvanizer Award Recipient, Howard Tullman, said this in a previous interview about the importance and competitive edge of living in a creative society. " The best business leaders I know are great storytellers and the arts (in all forms) are how we best tell stories, connect facts and data with real emotion, and excite our people to accomplish great things together. This kind of collaborative and innovative growth and team-based learning simply can't take place in a sterile environment. Art stimulates us and leads us forward in all things."
Through its collaborative art, Redmoon helps Chicago and its neighborhoods to tell its fantastic stories and excites our people to accomplish great things together. It leads us forward to be creative and empowered in seeing all that is possible in the world and to champion that. Thank you, Redmoon, I am grateful.