When Malina Rodriguez and Blake Beckham first joined forces, it was to bring dance to the people from the back of a pick-up truck. After collaborating on performances like last summer's site-specific PLOT, Blake and Malina's creative partnership showed itself to be a match made in heaven. But some ideas just don't fit in the bed of a pick-up truck.
Seeing Dance Truck succeed gave Malina and Blake just enough confidence to start contemplating some of their bigger ideas. Thus, the Lucky Penny was born as both a vehicle for presenting the work of other artists and an organization to house Blake and Malina's creative work—their ideas and projects that transcended what could be accomplished in the back of a truck. Within a few months of its inception, the Lucky Penny had thrown itself headfirst into Atlanta arts with 11.11.11, a festival packed with sixteen hours of programming that encompassed literature, visual arts, music, and film, in addition to dance. "We want to support all kinds of artists," Blake told me, "and we look for people who make their work with a spirit of risk."
The Lucky Penny has made it their mission to dig a little deeper for arts that embody that spirit of risk. "There's a place in Atlanta for this kind of curatorial voice, embracing the experimental," says Blake. "We can't really be the kind of presenter that the Rialto Center or the Ferst Center can be, so we're reaching out to a different part of the artistic community, and we're connecting peers."
In the year since its creation, the Lucky Penny has brought some high-profile national artists to Atlanta, but it's not just about showing work from around the country. "It's about engaging Atlanta artists in a bigger dialog with their peers, giving national artists a chance to sit down with local artists and have a dialogue"—whether that dialogue is happening at an artist talk, or in Blake's own living room.
And in the next year? Oh, just a little production that'll require 50,000 square feet of cardboard and 130 gallons of glue, to start. The funding for Threshold kicked off last week, jumpstarting the ambitious performance project that the Lucky Penny will present in mid-August. In the meantime, the Lucky Penny's celebrating their birthday this Thursday evening in Castleberry Hill, and they're doing it up right with drinks, cake, and a special preview performance from Threshold. And, of course, a cardboard dance floor upon which to bust a move. Sounds like a pretty righteous day of birth shindig for a one-year-old. But with the work they've already accomplished in a year, we can say it's well-deserved.