DT: Barbara Brussell sings, Jon Weber swings, and Aldon James talks up arts as vital as oxygen

On the sleetiest, slushiest day ever the hardiest Dutch Treat members and their guests turned out Tuesday undaunted for a good lunch (salmon after superb Vichysoisse, open bar), lively songs with wit and feeling from the brave Barbara Brussell with Jon Weber at his bouncing keys, and finally, cheerleading for the arts in education from the speaker, Aldon James of the National Arts Club, where the lively weekly gathering of arts performers and lovers has found its home for the past decade.

In the videos of Barbara singing you may see the extraordinary way in which her face reflects the emotions in her song, very like the clouds or the sun reflected in the surface of a lake.

All  pics and videos are at  this link http://photogenie.smugmug.com/Clubs/DutchTreat/Dutch-Treat-Jan-18-11-Aldon/15506305_xih6Q#1161453028_CtcWX

You can also glimpse in video her high energy acting out and the sheer vivacity of her presence on stage, well complemented by Jon Weber’s vigorous and  inventive backing, and all the more winning because it showed no trace of the heavy burden of the double bypass that felled the Sacramento lass for much of last year.  In an interview afterwards (see same SmugMug pages) she tells how she recovered her momentum in eight months, helped by massage which so helped to reinvigorate her that she took up the training herself.

After this rousing and moving introduction Aldon assumed the lectern to give a hooray for the arts as the vitamins of culture and in particular their vital role in our schools, too many of which have responded to budget pressures by cutting them out entirely.   Acknowledging the contributions of the Dutch Treat and many present from Nobles Lowe, one of our older members at 98 last September, to the sculptor who fashioned the fountain in Gramercy Park outside its front doors, now the only private park in the City, Aldon presented a film by Carol Wilder about Malcolm Sidney, the black pug bequeathed to the Arts Club by her film star owner, who immediately became a fixture at social events even though the aging canine had extreme difficulty in mounting the stairs (see clip).

Against the neighborhood trend exemplified by the Zeckendorf conversion of the Salvation Army building into a tall condo in which the real estate magnate planned to reside, Aldon vowed that the Club would remain its own master and always “only belong to the National Arts Club”, and remain dedicated to “educational and cultural purposes.”

Steve Downey, husband of KT Sullivan the DT president, wondered if the original promise of provincial chapters of the Arts Club could be realized as a way of fighting the trend to remove art teaching from schools . “Couldn’t we have state chapters?”   he suggested, and Aldon allowed that “You’re right. We do need to expand and reach out.  We were never intended to be a Lincoln Center.  It’s the immediacy that counts here. We are here to enable our committees to do what they do. We had motorcycles here before the Whitney had them, we had tattoos done in front of 300 people, we had the Art of the DJ”.

A new committee has been formed on Art and Technology, Aldon added, and “this year we will be at Burning Man!”  The Burning Man’s founder Larry Harvey has appeared at the Club, which has held benefits for the uniquely way out, participant driven California desert arts costume dance and sculpture bash. (Ten minutes of Aldon’s talk can be viewed in the SmugMug link pages.)

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