Creativity, self-expression, celebration, celebrity. The latest exhibition at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis seems like a good excuse for a party.
So the museum is throwing one Friday, the first in a series called Art Up Late. The doors will be open until midnight on another Friday in spring and again in the summer for parties based on other exhibitions.
“So rather than just everybody come in and have a ball, we actually have a theme that hopefully the exhibition on hand is going to inspire the party and inspire folks to come,” says CAM spokesman Eddie Silva.
The parties are also a good way for the museum to reach a broader audience and to celebrate artistic expression.
The St. Louis Art Museum has hosted its SLAM Underground series since 2014, partly to better utilize space after its East Building opened and to attract visitors in their 20s.
Organizers were surprised by the initial success of the event and have added funding to book bands and other entertainment, spokesman Matt Hathaway says. The Guggenheim in New York City and the art museums in Baltimore and Boston host similar events.
CAM’s costume party this week was inspired by its current exhibition, “Mickalene Thomas: Mentors, Muses, and Celebrities.” The film, photography and video installation pays homage to people important to the New York artist: Scenes from the movie “The Color Purple” take on a strong significance, as well as videos or images of Whitney Houston, Eartha Kitt and Josephine Baker.
Local hip-hop artist Eric Donté will premiere his new EP, “A Lamp in the Room,” DJ Prather will provide music and a costume contest will be judged by representatives from the St. Louis Fashion Fund. Guests are encouraged to dress as a mentor, muse or celebrity who inspires them.
Food will be available for purchase from Farmtruk, parked outside, and a silent auction will include artwork and art experiences; one experience includes a visit to Mickalene Thomas’ Brooklyn studio with CAM executive director Lisa Melandri.
Art Up Late on April 13, “Faster,” will be based on Salvatore Scarpitta’s racing cars and racing-related artwork. On June 15, “Louie, Louie” will be based on local artists of the Great Rivers Biennial exhibition.
Art Up Late events will help raise money for the museum’s exhibitions and education programs, and organizers hope they will help expose CAM to a wider audience.
“The museum is not just a place for reflection or spending time looking and spending time with art,” Silva says. “It’s a place where people gather. It’s a place not only to talk and hear about ideas, which we certainly do plenty of — it’s also a community place.”