A.G.O. Adopts "Massive Uprising" Theme With Mock Protests, Riot Police

For its Massive Party—the Art Gallery of Ontario's first on-site benefit since its grand reopening last fall—organizers played up a "Massive Uprising" theme with mock protests, riot police, and cocktails called the Capitalist and the Moscow Mule.

By Susan O'Neill April 3, 2009, 1:36 PM EDT

Riot police greeted guests

Photo: Nikki Leigh McKean for BizBash

The Art Gallery Of Ontario's Massive Party
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The redesigned Art Gallery of Ontario played host to its fifth annual Massive Party benefit Thursday with a sold-out crowd of 1,600 guests. “We've held it off site at Muzik for the past few years, and we are thrilled to come back to the A.G.O.,” said Geoffrey Chown, its manager of development and special events, who planned the event in conjunction with a committee co-chaired by Gillian Hewitt and Som Seif.

Songs like “We’re Not Gonna Take It” by Twisted Sister played as guests arrived for the party, which was dubbed “Massive Uprising” this year. Riot police wielding billy clubs greeted attendees as they entered Walker Court, where a group of models dressed as hippies conducted a sit-in in the middle of the floor. Placards with logos like “Fight for Your Right to Party” and “Join the Up Rising” were placed in black metal bins around the venue, and black linens and camouflage netting topped bars throughout the space.

The party took place in the gallery's entrance hall, Walker Court, Baillie Court (the A.G.O.'s new event space), and in Zacks Pavilion, where the “Surreal Things” exhibition opens in May. (In addition to the party areas, guests could tour the contemporary art displays on the gallery’s fourth and fifth floors.) The event showcased installations and performances by contemporary artists such as David Armstrong Six, Emelie Chhangur, Anitra Hamilton, Jay Isaac, Sarah Maple, Eric Mathew, Christof Migone, and Franco Mondini-Ruiz.

Red lighting filled Baillie Court, where actors dressed as John Lennon and Yoko Ono re-enacted the couple's famous bed-in for peace atop a bed on a riser in the centre of the room. Video footage of the couple was broadcast on the walls, and linens with graffiti tags topped tables. Specialty cocktails created by Diageo—called the Capitalist and Moscow Mule—added to the theme.

A.G.O. executive chef Anne Yarymowich oversaw the catering, with staff from The Butler Did It—dressed in all black with red berets and arm bands—offering a selection of hors d’oeuvres like mini Cubano sandwiches and risotto croquettes. DJ Efsharp, DJ M, DJ Richard, DJ Whitney, and Dr. Draw entertained guests until 1 a.m.

Event sponsors included CTV, Claymore Investments, Equity Transfer & Trust Company, Investors Group, Interbrand, Merrill Corporation Canada, and NOW Magazine. Proceeds of this event will support the A.G.O.’s exhibitions and education programs.

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