The Gailies in full

I’m always elated at the end of the Gail Rich Awards, but only partly because my gig as the show’s emcee is over and done with it. The greater part of that elation has to do with the evening itself, and Wednesday night’s event at the Rio Theatre was one of the best ever.

The Gailies saluted six individuals in the Santa Cruz County arts community — artist/writer T. Mike Walker, sculptor Rose Sellery, singer Lori Rivera, photographer Bob Barbour, singer/songwriter Bryn Loosley and musician Rick McKee.

In our 15th year doing this event, it’s become clear that a certain tone prevails, even though our honorees are different every year. We have “awards” to offer, no big checks or bowling trophies, just sincere gratitude, or as Lori Rivera put it, “It feels like the whole arts community is patting me on the head.”

As a result, the Gailies are disarming in that they present people at their most geniune. There is no Oscar-style stiffness, just real folks standing before their friends and neighbors speaking from their heart.

Rose Sellery, known for her dazzling wearable-art creations, spoke movingly of her difficult childhood and how it has effected her relationships, and how her art helped to heal. Bob Barbour spoke without notes about the surf community from which he springs, and both gave moving tributes to their respective daughters.

It was a terrific night all around, if for no other reason it exposed the music of talented singer/songwriter Bryn Loosley to a wider audience. Bryn closed the show with a great rendition of a funny, endearing little original song, I’m sure the first song I’ve ever heard about ex president Chester Arthur.

Afterward, everyone I spoke to talked about the unique quality of the Gailies, its intimacy, its lack of stuffiness. I always expected to feel drained after the experience of hosting the show, but instead I feel excited for the whole process to begin again, and to again exercise my privilege to introduce great artists to the community.

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