There was some great energy Saturday night at MACLA's 16th annual Latino Art Auction in downtown San Jose. Maybe it had something to do with the celebrity emcee, El Vez -- aka the Mexican Elvis -- who kept everyone entertained while dressed in a tiger-striped orange jumpsuit (complete with tail).

The big-ticket item of the night was "Notes," a wood collage by San Jose-based artist Samuel Rodriguez, which went for $2,000 in the live auction. Ray Ashley, a pretty well-known collector on the local art scene, won the piece, but only after some competition from Daniel Garcia of Content Magazine, photographer and artist Robert Ragazza and Miguel Salinas, who recently joined the Packard Foundation.

"It is very telling about our times that this piece, Sam's interpretation about mixed-identity portraiture -- which also references music, graphic design, digital, 3-D architecture and graffiti marks -- got people excited," said Anjee Helstrup-Alvarez, executive director of Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana.

There were about 50 pieces of Latino-themed art or art by Latino artists for sale, and two others that inspired bidding wars were a print with ink drawing by Victor Cartagena and a pastel drawing by Tino Rodriguez.

SAN JOSE REP CELEBRATES: "The Snow Queen" was a big hit for San Jose Rep last winter, and audiences across the country may get a chance to see it now that it's been accepted to the New York Musical Theatre Festival this summer.


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Rick Lombardo, the Rep's producing artistic director, said he's gotten most of the original cast back together to make the trip to the Big Apple in July. "Mostly this is about raising the show's profile," Lombardo told me during the Blue Box Bash, the company's signature fundraiser that drew hundreds of supporters to the Rep's theater on Sunday.

One goal for the future of "The Snow Queen," he said, would be to have regional theaters consider it as a family-friendly winter show that isn't one of your traditional holiday favorites. "Of course, a short New York run would be great," Lombardo added.

DINE OUT FOR A CAUSE: There's one tradition that I'm glad to see Brad Goldberg, former general manager at San Jose's Billy Berk's, continued when he opened Vault 164 in San Mateo, and that's the annual Autism Awareness Day.

On Wednesday, Vault 164, on South B Street, will donate 15 percent of its sales to the Autism Society of the San Francisco Bay Area. Sounds like a great reason to cheat on your diet.

GEOGRAPHICALLY CHALLENGED: There were a lot of people in downtown San Jose on Sunday for the second annual Songkran Thai New Year Festival. I spotted a gender-mixed group of revelers taking a break in Plaza de Cesar Chavez, with at least one person whose internal GPS was way off.

"So are we in San Francisco right now?" he asked his friends, who quickly set him straight.

Contact Sal Pizarro at spizarro@mercurynews.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/spizarro.