Departments — 02 November 2013
Behind the scenes at the Beaux Arts Gala

Editor’s note: This story about the annual Beaux Arts Gala first appeared in the November issue of City & Shore. Watch these pages for details about upcoming events.

By Greg Carannante

You raise your flute unusually high – not to make a toast, but to have it filled by the acrobat bartender suspended above the crowd from a chandelier adorned with bottles of champagne. You look to the left and a ballerina pirouettes, to the right a costumed couple strides the tango. Around one corner, masked Carnival revelers drum on congas. Over there, two young violinists are playing hip-hop. One wall is covered with glowing projections of digital graffiti. Others are arrayed with the works of famous artists.

Indeed, you are inside the Museum of Art | Fort Lauderdale and the show is going on all around you. And then it moves onstage, where the act of painting is transformed into a tour-de-force performance by a man in a splattered tux, a rock artist with brushes for guitars and moves like Jagger, a one-man invocation of the power of art.

This kaleidoscope in which you’ve found yourself is the annual Beaux Arts Gala, and while artist-performer Michael Israel is the star of the show for the second year in a row, he is not alone in personifying its theme – Art Is.

“We bring in artists of all different genres so that our guests can really experience art happening all around them constantly throughout the night,” says Courtney Jacobi, event co-chair. “There are pop-up ballerinas, dancers, DJs, live music.

“Art is so many different things. Art is something different to every person. To be honest, for a theme we initially were trying to come up with ‘Art Is’ and a word, but the more we talked about it, the more we realized that ‘Art Is’ was the most fitting thing we could think of.”

Israel was invited back for generating both high energy and high numbers. Last year’s gala took in $125,000 for Beaux Arts, which has been raising funds and awareness for the arts in Broward County for more than 50 years. Jacobi says that most of the money goes to the museum, and this year the beneficiary will be its studio school, the AutoNation Academy of Art and Design. A curriculum-centered program that helps offset the county’s art education budget cuts, the school provides scholarships for students in grades 1-12.

One such student – now a teaching assistant at the school – was on scholarship for over five years. “He rode his skateboard something like five miles each way every day after school to go to this program,” Jacobi says. “He greatly attributes his success in life to the school by making sure that he wasn’t on the streets every day. He will say that he didn’t get involved in gangs and drugs because he had this wonderful outlet, and that it’s really the reason he’s alive.”

Naming rights for one of those $10,000 minimum scholarships will be up for grabs at the gala’s live auction, as will a private guided tour of Art Basel by new museum director Bonnie Clearwater and vacation experiences from the Abacos to London. Also, the five paintings created by Israel during his show will be auctioned immediately afterward.

“Last year, people were on their feet screaming while he was painting,” Jacobi says. “Honestly, the auction is just as exciting as the performance. People are really moved and motivated. They get connected to the piece and, last year, they were throwing crazy numbers in the air!”

“There’s a very big buzz around town regarding the museum with Bonnie coming aboard,” Jacobi says, “It’s the perfect time to showcase the museum at its finest.”

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