The Magic of Underground, ArtLoveMagic's Annual Art Party

The 10 to 15 artists and musicians who performed at ArtLoveMagic's first "REACH" event in 2007 wasn't exactly what co-founder David Rodriguez had in mind.

"Since ArtLoveMagic started I had the vision of Underground in my head," Rodriguez says of the grandiose interactive art experience that returns this weekend. "It started with one or two musicians and some poets. It was successful but I really wanted to see the formula work on a larger scale with more of a variety of talent to exhibit, a little bit louder, a little bit crazier."

That requires a little more money, so for this year's event at South Side of Lamar, the nonprofit is working with a $10,000 budget -- a number Rodriguez says barely covers the cost, including stage, sound equipment, lighting, advertising, environmental designs and advertising.

"There's not a lot of money that passes through ArtLoveMagic," Rodriguez says. "Underground funds itself for most part, though truthfully it still requires more than what we are currently spending."

Sponsors, including Titan Comics, help them get the show rolling financially. ArtLoveMagic then raises enough money off its yearly Underground event to get ready for the following year. That, along with whatever shows they do in between, will become the budget for the following Underground and will cover any other operating costs for the organization.

This year's event will feature more then 100 of DFW's underground artists and musicians taking over the South Side of Lamar's Artist Quarters, Janette Kennedy Gallery and the Underground Room of the historic building. This year's musical artists include Larry g(EE), Katsuk and The Effinays.

Stretched funds, underwhelming turn-outs and creative differences can lead to turmoil within any group of friends working as a business. Rodriguez says any differences the group may have as individuals is tackled as a group.

"We care about it each other like real brothers, but we can disagree like real brothers too," Rodriguez says. "It may vary on approach, or certain communication, but we are usually unified on overall strategy and implementing innovative ideas. If there is a disagreement we try to settle it rather quickly. Not much can get done if you're ticked off at your bro."

Artist and lyricist Isaac Davies of Three Of One Arts has been working with the trio since the beginning, starting as co-producer with Rodriguez at the second Underground event, and has participated every other year since as a live artist.

"Underground is Dallas' best kept artistic experience, hands down," Davies said. "It's like half of all art studios in Dallas get transported into one space for four intense hours."

Being involved from the beginning means Davies has seen the ups and downs of the event as it has grown. Even though the organization is powered by many volunteers, all unpaid like the founders, Davies credits the founders for fueling the organization's growth.

"They have a solid foundation that's equally enthusiastic about their goal," he says.

Rodriguez has heard similar feedback from not only the artists involved, but the patrons as well.

"There have been many people, over the years, that have communicated to us as to how their lives have changed for the better for being a part of ArtLoveMagic," he says. "We are thankful to give opportunities to beginning artists, generating an easy platform that they can show their work and learn how to improve."

Looking back to that first event, Rodriguez reflects on the seed that was planted in that small audience.

"Over 300 audience members streamed through the doors, and the passion from both the artists and the audience was overwhelming," he says. "Before the night had even ended, we had booked our next show. It was clear, we were on to something."

ArtLoveMagic's Underground event is Saturday at 8 p.m. at the lower level of The South Side of Lamar. Tickets are $10 pre-sale for general admission, $20 at the door and $30 for VIP (limited time and quantity available). For more information visit undergrounddallas.com or facebook.com.

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