Many people dream of quitting their jobs to devote more time toward artistic passions. Not as many actually do it.
Local artist and lighting designer Amanda Filori joined the ranks of the brave earlier this month when she left her job as a paralegal at Faulkner Banfield to turn her energy toward what she loves: making art and supporting other artists in their pursuits.
Filori — a painter, lighting designer and event planner, among other things — said the final push to make a full-time commitment to Juneau’s arts scene came this past spring, after working as the stage manager for Juneau Lyric Opera’s production of “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.”
“That pretty much convinced me, ‘Why am I doing anything else?’” Filori said. “So I’m taking a couple years and I’m just going to focus on the arts.”
Filori is now the events manager at Rockwell, a local restaurant and performance venue on Franklin Street owned by Deb Barry and Erik Emert. Her role involves helping plan and execute events like concerts and theatrical performances in the upstairs ballroom, while building collaborative relationships with other arts organizations such as the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council. Along the way, she’s gathering feedback from locals about what they would like to see in Juneau’s arts and music scene, with a larger goal of fostering a range of high-quality performance opportunities.
“I keep asking people what they want to hear, what they like and what they dislike about venues here, ticket prices, different things,” she said.
Through her position, Filori hopes to build support for emerging bands that might not have an opportunity to perform otherwise, as well as continue to stoke enthusiasm for popular local performers such as The Wool Pullers, a duo comprised of Liz Snyder and Alex Kotlarsz.
“There is some amazing talent going on in this town,” Filori said.
This weekend, she’s planned a big show at Rockwell: the Harrison B Summer Shakedown. Headliner Harrison B, a Tennessee musician who used to live in Juneau, will perform with Juneauites Cole Paramore on drums and J.R. Rosales on bass, a trio who recently finished a six-week tour of the West Coast. Harrison B’s set will include the premiere of a music video for his new single, “ME,” released in July and mixed by Paramore.
Also performing at the Summer Shakedown will be the Wool Pullers and the Shiver Twins, which features Rosales and Eric Mountcastle.
The event will be at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 16. Admission is $15 in advance (http://hbsummershakedown.brownpapertickets.com/) or $20 at the door.
Also this week, Filori's brother, blues guitarist Sammy Burrous, will be playing with his band Devil’s Club at 9 p.m. at The Rendezvous. Catch them tonight and Friday night. There is no cover.
Promoting local music is only one facet of Filori’s role. A trained lighting designer, she thrives on creating visually interesting spaces for musicians and others to perform. She recently designed the lights for Burrous' Tom Waits tribute show at the Gold Town Nickelodeon in March. Filori said for her, lighting design has similarities to another of her artistic passions: painting.
“It’s a way of painting, I guess,” she said. “You paint with light, and you’re making a moment for someone.”
As for painting itself, Filori is preparing a show for a Juneau Arts & Humanities Council exhibit in February, and she’s working on getting Rockwell’s back room transformed into a working gallery — another First Friday destination that could also double as a dining room for private parties and events. That space might be ready to go in October, she said.
Filori’s broad artistic interests were fostered in Ketchikan, where she was born and became involved in music, art and theater as a child. Early influences include playing in a family band that included Burrous, and hanging out with Ketchikan painter Dave Rubin. She moved to Juneau in 2004 after working as a lighting designer on the West Coast and for Perseverance Theatre. When her daughter was born eight years ago, she took a break to focus on work and family, and for the past few years has been slowly getting back into it. As of Aug. 1, she’s jumped in with both feet.
Though she confessed to being slightly overwhelmed by the scope of her new role, Filori said she’s excited about where that role is headed.
“It’s really coming together,” she said.
The Summer Shakedown event will be held at 7 p.m. at Rockwell on Saturday, Aug. 16. Admission is $15 in advance (http://hbsummershakedown.brownpapertickets.com/) or $20 at the door.
For more information on the Summer Shakedown, visit www.facebook.com/events/903039386389978/?ref=22
For more on Harrison B, visit www.harrisonbmusic.com
For more on The Wool Pullers, visit www.facebook.com/pages/The-Wool-Pullers/307429906068326
For more on The Shiver Twins, visiwww.facebook.com/shivertwinsmusic