Guests and art both glittered at AVAM gala

THE BALTIMORE SUN

The glitter at the American Visionary Art Museum's 10th Anniversary Gala went beyond the newly installed mirror-mosaic Icarus sculpture, further than the gazillions of reflective discs dangling from table centerpieces set up for the party, and past the glitzy sequins and beads adorning a polka troupe dancing to the Tommy Thomas Trio's tunes. We're talking the glitterati scattered among the 400 guests.

Former talk-show host Rosie O'Donnell and South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu were there, for starters. But also in the crowd were: Maryland-born actor John Glover (Smallville) and friends; famed whirligig artist Vollis Simpson, with granddaughters in tow, and some of his fans; and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Taylor Branch and his wife, Christina Macy. Fashion-design couple Albert and Pearl Nipon enthused to friend and AVAM board member Sandra Magsamen how awestruck they were with both the museum and the party.

"It's more than fabulous. ... Just watch Rebecca, and the way she talks about this place. Her soul is in it. It's a part of her!" Pearl Nipon declared, describing AVAM founder / director Rebecca Hoffberger, whose smile capped off an evening full of dazzle.

SATURDAY: 20th Annual Gift of Life Gala. Benefits National Kidney Foundation of Maryland . Open bar, hors d'oeuvres, seated dinner, live music, dancing. Hyatt Regency Inner Harbor, 300 Light St., 7 p.m. Tickets $225. Call 410-494-8545.

A DRINK WITH CARL FILIPIAK

This jazz musician's doing what he loves

Carl Filipiak, 55, is considered by many to be Baltimore's premiere jazz / rock guitarist. Well known to jazz guitar aficionados around the mid-Atlantic region, Filipiak has just finished shooting an episode of Miles of Music, a syndicated television series that features a musician each week. He has also just finished producing a record for a protege, 17-year-old Randy Runyon Jr. In addition to regularly performing at places like the Cat's Eye Pub and the New Haven Lounge, Filipiak is working on his next record. With a release date set for early next year, this record will be "Jimi jazz," music inspired by Jimi Hendrix.

Jimi Hendrix?

He was one of the greatest players on the planet. And it's fun to play. He's just as important as Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, or the Beatles. I've always done a tune or two of Hendrix's when I'm doing a set of my own material. My band and I started doing full Jimi Hendrix shows. We have a big screen in the background with all this psychedelic stuff. ... So, people have asked over the years, "When are you going to do a whole record of Hendrix?" So, now I'm writing music that's not Hendrix covers. My music has always had a rock influence. I'm not doing Hendrix the rest of my life. This is just another thing that I want to do.

What do you think of everything you've done, and continue to do?

I'm amazed that I'm able to make a living in this town doing everything I love. I love playing Hendrix. I love to play my material. I love making records. I love producing records. I like writing [guitar instruction] books ... and the fact that there's a lot of great talent in Baltimore, with not enough venues to show all that material, it makes me amazed. I shouldn't be doing this here, because my music is so un-mainstream.

What do mean by that?

It's not pop music. It's not following a pop culture.

But, you made it onto the Billboard list ...

Yeah, but that doesn't mean we're selling hundreds of thousands of records. Nor am I trying to. It also means I don't have to dance or put girls in my videos.

Your wife, Irene, has certainly hung in there with you.

Thirty-three years! I couldn't have done it without her. She's the one who keeps it all together. She books all the gigs. She does everything. Maybe that's why I'm so happy. Uh oh. Looks like I have to buy something for her now.

When younger musicians ask you for advice, what do you say?

Think about what it is you want to do. Do something about it every day. Detach from the outcome.

Because ...

Because any time you set any kind of conditions on what you're doing, you're setting yourself up for disappointment. In other words, you say "I'm going to sell a million records." You're already in trouble. I can guarantee you when you do something about what you're thinking about, some door will open. I don't know which door. It may not be the gateway to fame and fortune. The point is to just do it. Do it because you love it.

CARL FILIPIAK'S DRINK: NIPOZZANO RISERVA 2000 CHIANTI AT THE ORCHARD MARKET & CAFE IN TOWSON

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