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Rhythmix celebrates its third birthday Saturday

Submitted by on 1, June 11, 2010 – 4:50 amNo Comment

Rhythmix Cultural Works is racing into its toddler years with an all-day Third Anniversary Jam & Open House this coming Saturday. The all-ages event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and it’s free and open to the public.

The festivities include music by Maze Daiko, African drumming and other performances; a craft fair featuring the work of local artisans; local art and talks in the K Gallery; and a host of free workshops and demonstrations of belly dancing, capoeira, circus and more. A full schedule is here.

Rhythmix is the brainchild of East Bay artist Janet Koike, who was looking to create a home for her Maze Daiko taiko drumming ensemble (then called RhythMix) and RCW’s cultural exchange programs, which had coordinated trips to Cuba and Japan. They found a home in the old Clamp Swing Pricing Co. building at 2513 Blanding Avenue and set out to build it into a community center for the arts.

“We spent a number of years looking around the East Bay for spaces,” Koike recalls. “When the Clamp Swing building became available, it just seemed like the right place.”

After working for five years and overcoming a series of hurdles – including an unsuccessful lawsuit brought by a resident who said the artist living spaces to be built at Rhythmix violated Measure A and a stint as guinea pig for Alameda’s then-new live/work ordinance – the center opened in June 2007. It has since hosted dozens of parties, live performances, art shows, community events, classes, camps and more, drawing audiences from the Island and beyond.

Highlights for Koike include performances from international groups including Germany’s Theater R.A.B. (for Random Acts of Beauty) and members of Kodo, a Japanese taiko group (their singer, Yoko Fujimoto, is performing with Maze Daiko this coming July 23-24). They also include local efforts like Rhythmix’s circus art program, its sold-out, monthly 3 Ring Bingo fundraiser and an inauguration celebration that brought together artists and community members.

“We were really serving as a community arts center at that point,” Koike says of the January 2009 event, which she called “a potluck for 400.”

Saturday’s bash, its staffers say, is a thank-you to folks in the East Bay for their support and an effort to “inspire more people to celebrate the arts.”

The event will feature workshops from Wendy Allen of Fat Chance Bellydance, Sam Batchelder, Skilly Circus, Betty Lucas, Alyssa Gangemi, Maze Daiko, Afia Walking Tree, Ava Levias-Square, Harry Best & Shabang and a Bean’s Got Rhythm class. And in the gallery, you can catch the Clint Imboden-curated “Locals II” exhibit, which features the work of local artists Jon Kerpel, Ginny Parson, K.C. Rosenberg, Peter Tonningsen and Danielle Wallis.

The event will also feature activities for the kids, including face painting and arts and craft activities.

Koike said that she’s glad Rhythmix laid down roots in Alameda.

“It’s a rare place, probably the only place left in the Bay Area that has charm and small-town warmth,” she said.

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