RAW, the local satellite of the nationally franchised art series, went down again Oct. 11 at Powerhouse Events Center. The evening offered up more visual artists, pole dancers, musicians, short films and runway-strutting.
The supply of visual artists felt a little thinner at this month's event, something that improved traffic flow greatly in the upper balcony of the Powerhouse, but it could just have been that the participating artists had less bulky displays.
Highlights of the visual arts section included a series of recycled jewelry from Monica Macha, photography from Synchrnyze, aka Ronnie Soldano, and a series of extremely zen, stark black-and-white paintings of snowy landscapes from Aaron Bell.
"Where else can you pay $10 and get all this entertainment?" Bell asked of the event.
But whether the crowd actually found it entertaining was debatable. As has become par for the course at RAW events, the dressed-to-the-nines and loud-mouthed paid minimal attention to what was happening on stage and spent their energy creating a general din of chitchat that made it even more difficult for the interested few to follow the action.
If the intention of RAW is promote and celebrate art, it struggles for that reason. But if the intention is to use art as an excuse to throw a fancy shindig, it is a paragon of success, packing The Powerhouse monthly with faces new to both the production and consumption sides of Boise's arts scene.
But perhaps the biggest sign of audience disrespect was during the evening's final fashion show, during which attendees randomly walked through the runway area, blocking and cutting off the models on several occasions. Granted, it was toward the end of the evening, when people's attention was waning and the crowd was thinning, but if you walked on the runway at a legitimate fashion show, you would likely find yourself getting a close examination of the fashionable underside of a security guard's boot.
The main fashion show, by Sara Murray, was a strange collection best summarized as post-apocalyptic space hooker chic. Between the ruffles, wings, found pieces and outlandish makeup, the outfits were a cross between Mad Max and Marie Antoinette.
In a twist on the old barrel and suspenders gag, one model wore a hatbox suspended around her waist like a skirt. Another wore a large crown and shoulder pieces that made her look a bit like a boss from one of the Megaman games. All of them could have been cast as citizens of The Capitol in The Hunger Games. It was fine for Burner outfits or cosplay, and was strong as a conceptual collection that leaned toward the experimental, but its usefulness outside of that was questionable.
RAW remains an enigma, an event with tremendous potential, occasional brilliance and a lengthy list of valid criticisms. If nothing else, it deserves credit for showcasing the beauty and athleticism of pole dancing outside of strip clubs.
The series has two more events for the year, including the RAW Awards, which will take place at Revolution Concert House, Thursday, Nov. 15.