Amidst the increasingly ridiculous buildup of snow in the Twin Cities, horrifyingly slick streets, and formidably long lines for the coat check, Saint Paul’s artsiest and finest pressed their velvet suits and sported their tortoise shell glasses to attend the Walker Art Center’s After Hours party on February 14th. In celebration of “Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take,” guests gathered for a night of food, drank, dancing, music, and of course, Hodges’ new exhibit. Promising a night filled with art, “small bites,” and an escape from Turck’s nightly shenanigans, the Walker’s After Hours Preview party served as a fun way for a girl to enjoy some good food and fly solo on Valentine’s Day.
The event itself offered many epicenters for enjoyment. As was mentioned above, and was obviously important, there were various stations for food, serving black bean cake sliders and smoked gouda. Though the event drew people of all ages, the food counters and areas with tables specifically attracted a younger, more social crowd. Many attendees seemed to recognize other guests either from the art world or the neighborhood.
Also attracting the younger scene, perhaps due to its proximity to the bar, was the “Photo Booth.” Visitors were given various props, hats, oversized glasses (not dissimilar to those already worn by the guests), and feather boas for posing. Following the themes of Hodges’ creative exhibit, the “Photo Booth” served as a fun way to capture the candid, natural and colorful moments of the night.
Another important and interactive aspect that truly made this night distinct was the hands-on art activity entitled “Memento.” After being inspired by Hodges’ use of often simple materials (“works on paper, and objects rendered in mirrors, lightbulbs…”) visitors could “capture [their] experiences of love and loss by transforming [their] emotions into ephemeral objects and adding them to a collaborative web” (as stated in Walker’s program). This “collaborative web” brought adults together by embodying the arts and crafts projects of their childhood — you could practically smell the Play-Doh.
After waiting on a line swirling up the stairs for the highly anticipated DJs and live music, attendees were treated with multiple musical guests including Olga Bell, Angel Deradoorian and Sisyphus. Though many a flannel-shirt-wearer gave me a dirty look for carrying an oversized notebook and nudging my elbows through to get a better view, it was evident that the crowd was completely engaged with the entertainers on stage. Throughout the psychedelic shifting lights, the head bobbing proved that the musical aspect of the night was also an ultimate success.
While the Walker After Hours Party had much to offer, the main reason for the gathering was, of course, Jim Hodges’ opening. Guests spent most of their time staring for minutes on end at some of Hodges’ most creative, organic and engaging work yet. Whether it was watching their fragmented shadows dance in the reflection of Hodges’ “Movements,” or walking in the encompassingly large panels of “And Still This,” guests were completely swallowed up and stunned by each aspect of the exhibit. Every gallery room was filled with chatter as guests snapped pictures on their iPhones of their favorite works.
Upon recovering from my gouda cheese coma, I realized what I had just experienced. Not only had Walker After Hours created a fabulous, cultured, educational, and enjoyable escape from Valentine’s Day, but it created an indie and artsy open house. Not only was Hodges’ exhibit debuted—but the Walker welcomed new visitors and new artists to see and explore their museum.
In an interview with Olga Viso by the Walker, Hodges claims that when he and his brothers were younger they would build “perfect hiding places and spaces of fantasy.” As guests ducked in from the frigid vortex into the hot pink lights of the Walker, they truly did experience Hodges’ “spaces of fantasy.”