By Erin Letson Posted April 14, 2008, 2:19 PM EDT
The 1,500 guests attending the Art Gallery of Ontario's Massive Party fund-raiser at Muzik on Thursday got a taste of the night's Vanities and Vandals theme before even entering the venue. Outside the nightclub, spotlights drew attention to artist Dan Bergeron's graffiti art installation, which gave a dramatically different look to the typical red carpet entrance. Later in the evening, Bergeron and a troupe of graffiti artists went outside to work on the project in front of onlookers.
Inside Musik, seven other contemporary artists showed off interactive installation projects (while two sold their merchandise) amid rotating coloured lights, dry ice, and music spun by DJ Efsharp and DJ Whitney. “Each year, it's the artist projects that are fresh, new, and exciting,” said Geoffrey Chown, A.G.O.'s manager of development and special events. “It's all about the contemporary art.” Many of the artists, like Bergeron, participated in their installations.
Chown planned Massive Party with a volunteer committee chaired by Carolyn Lawrence and Som Seif. “We picked artists and musicians whose work we felt would work well with the theme,” he said, adding that the event takes a year to plan. The committee's artist choices included Jesika Joy, whose installation inside Muzik's Stila Beauty Lounge included pole dancers dressed in paper bags, and Thrush Holmes, who turned a raised platform into an impromptu art studio where a group of artists painted under a canopy of coloured glowsticks. As the event progressed, an installation by the Female Fighting Federation saw women breaking out into spontaneous fights around the venue.
The Vanities and Vandals theme continued with the servers, who wore bandannas, tiaras, and temporary tattoos. Couture Cuisine provided champagne with strawberries, plus two cocktails—the Prima Donna and the Cherry Bomb—and three hors d'oeuvres, including artichoke tartlets and do-it-yourself s'mores. Later in the evening, Sebastien Grainger et les Montagnes performed for the predominantly younger crowd.
The evening's main sponsors included Claymore Securities, Imperial Capital, and the Investors Group, along with media sponsors CTV, The Globe and Mail and Now Magazine. The approximately $125,000 raised at Massive Party goes to the exhibition and education programs at the A.G.O. The gallery's new Frank Gehry-designed building is scheduled to open in the late fall.