story and photos by Stephen Carter, special to The City Wire
Nearly 200 Artinfusion members and guests enjoyed a night of entertainment, music and spooky art history at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Saturday (Oct. 25) during one of the affinity group’s annual activities.
Randall Shreve and the Sideshow, a local vaudeville rock group, performed. Members and guests enjoyed a haunted gallery tour, food and drink concocted by Eleven, the museum’s restaurant, and a costume contest.
“Artinfusion is a fantastic opportunity for young professionals ages 21-40 to get involved in museum happenings. We throw events for this group to give them a different way to experience the museum collection,” said Emily Ironside, membership program manager at Crystal Bridges Museum.
The second annual Halloween party educated attendees through “haunted tours” of selected portions of the museum’s gallery collection.
“People will be coming to have a good time, but they’ll also learn something,” said Ironside. “Our main goal is engagement, and getting visitors interested in art while connecting with their peers. A lot of young professionals in the area are seeking opportunities to connect and we wanted to provide something that might fill a gap.”
There are approximately 200 Artinfusion members.
Jamey McGaugh, development officer at Crystal Bridges, hopes “people realize the museum is not only a place one can learn about art, but socialize and network with people in one’s own age group.”
McGaugh, who formerly worked with the young professionals group at the Lincoln Center in New York, said “when the museum was in the development stage, there was a desire by the Crystal Bridges board to have a young professionals organization.”
Don and Jenny Wallace, new Artinfusion members who live within walking distance of the museum, said museum events provide a good alternative to other entertainment options such as going to see a movie.
Kris Holland, special events specialist at the museum, helped conceive the vision for the event. The Halloween party, the second in Artinfusion’s history, combined a “Tim Burton inspired, creepy feel,” said Holland. Taking cues from Beetlejuice, decorations contained a lot of black, white and red complimenting colors.
“I would love for people to come and think this is something they haven’t seen at the museum before and to feel like it’s a young and hip party. I’d love for people to think this is something they enjoy and something they want to see more of.
Holland worked with Crystal Bridges interpretation manager, Aaron Jones, to develop a haunted tour of some paintings in the colonial and early 19th century gallery to provide a background behind the works in a Halloween context.
“There are some really great stories involved with some of the painters in particular that lent themselves to what we were trying to achieve,” Holland said of the tour.
During one of the evening’s gallery tours, Kim Ratcliff, a volunteer guide, shared some of the eerie coincidences surrounding John Singer Sargent’s 1885 painting Robert Louis Stevenson and His Wife. To cap off the haunted tour, Ratcliff noted that two nights after the theatre production of Stevenson’s Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde opened in London, Jack the Ripper first struck and the closing night of the theatre production, Jack the Ripper’s infamous double murder took place. Joshua Everett, a party guest, and participant in Ratcliff’s tour, thought the story was creepy and “pretty crazy.”
The event closed with a costume contest. Jennifer Meltzer, dressed in a costume themed as a work by American pop artist Roy Lichtenstein, tied for first place in the most creative costume category. Crystal Watson and Jacob Krause, dressed as Yip Yips from the children's television show Sesame Street tied for first in the category. Benjamin Krum won the scariest costume award for his white eyed mask.
An after-party at 21c Museum Hotel in Bentonville began immediately following the festivities hosted at Crystal Bridges Museum. The event cost $25 per person (free for Artinfusion members). Artinfusion offers regular events for its membership that feature art talks by curators, artmaking activities, live music, and specialty food and drink.
Members may enjoy the year’s final event, Winter-A-Go-Go on Dec. 21. The event, inspired by Richard Benedict’s 1965 comedy, will feature an après-ski theme.
The cost for an Artinfusion membership, in addition to an annual membership, is $30 for individual members and $50 for dual/family members. As an Artinfusion member, one receives free admission to all Artinfusion events (an annual value of approximately $100 per person). For more information, contact the member call center at 418-5728 or email email@example.com