Last week I photographed the ribbon cutting and grand reopening of the Cultural Center at Ocean Reef. Though we've all been there before, for twenty years, this moment represented an update.
While update means making new… restoring… refreshing, for me the cultural experiences I’m exposed to while working there, is nothing but new.
My camera allows me behind the scenes access to cultural events; the likes of which I had not even a clue existed. A couple years back, when the Philadelphia Orchestra asked me to photograph their musicians for use in their blog, I got to stand on stage during a warm-up for the evening’s performance. There I stood, frozen, mere inches from the musicians and the conductor, beside their instruments and close enough to read the musical score. Especially then, knowing when to click the camera, is like the etiquette of not applauding between the movements of a musical score… you have to do it at the right time. The slightest noise of my camera clicking would be enough to cause a distraction. When music is loud is usually the best time, and never any flash.
I wandered backstage through a makeshift assembly of tents, drapes and traveling instrument cases, those specially designed trunks that also serve as a personal dressing armoire. A musician told me he had been a musician with the Orchestra for 30 years; as a child he wanted to be a portrait painter, but when that didn't work out he learned of music, the classical kind, from a program on TV. And that was it… he became a musician in the town of Philadelphia that just so happened to have a great orchestra.
Just this weekend as I sat backstage drinking a coffee between performances, I was in the company of world renowned guitarist and singer John Pizzarelli, as he bantered with the Quartet about jazz, the performers, the legends, their lives and their work. After a time, he looked at me and asked if I was there to take a picture. I said no… I am just enjoying being the fly on the wall. I told him If you were to ask me about my idea of a cultural event growing up in Fort Lauderdale, It would have been attending a world premiere at the Gateway Theatre of the movie “Where the Boys Are”. And the closest thing to an art show back then, would have been the Sandcastle Carnival on Ft. Lauderdale beach, where I watched as my father set up the PA system and my brother climbed coconut trees to position the speakers. Life. It’s kinda nice how things work out. As a kid I was able to experience the three S’s… sun, surf and sand, and as an adult I'm learning about the performing arts.
Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit. Growing up, we did have a chance for cultural exposure and events but we had to travel 25 miles west of town to the Hollywood Sportatorium. Built in 1969 it lasted just 22 years, and the good part about being older (and a little deafer), there we got to see all the great rock bands perform.
And thinking back to 20 years ago, prior to the Ocean Reef Cultural Center’s establishment, it was a minimum 40 mile drive to see a movie; it was a major social event to board a bus and take in a live performance in Miami. Today we have a venue with world class performances, and it is just a golf cart ride away.
Oh, and by the way, as the musician from Philadelphia told me, it’s feedback that tells the musician if he or she is doing a good job. It’s not the establishment… the supposed authority… it is the people, the audience that you move. Only they can decide if a musician has done well.
Now I just need to figure out when it is ok to applaud.
Or maybe I will just save it for the Beach Boys.
This photographic website provides me the opportunity for self-expression, for sharing