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This Art Museum Gala Used Vibrant Decor to Celebrate Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera

Harbor Entertainment infused Norton Museum of Art’s 2022 gala with bright colors and textiles as a nod to the South Florida museum’s Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism exhibit.

The Norton Museum of Art's 2022 gala raised more than $2 million to benefit the South Florida museum’s exhibitions and public programs. This event makes it possible for the Norton to fulfill its artistic and educational mission. This year's theme centered around an exhibit dedicated to Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism.
The Norton Museum of Art's 2022 gala raised more than $2 million to benefit the South Florida museum’s exhibitions and public programs. This event makes it possible for the Norton to fulfill its artistic and educational mission. This year's theme centered around an exhibit dedicated to Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism.
Photo: Capehart Photography

WEST PALM BEACH, FLA.—Beloved Mexican artist Frida Kahlo lived most of her life in a home known as La Casa Azul, or the Blue House, named after its cobalt-blue walls. The structure, which is now a museum in Mexico City, houses paintings by Kahlo and her husband, Diego Rivera, among other personal objects, and is a bright display of color—so it’s only fitting that a gala for a museum displaying a large collection of Kahlo and Rivera’s work is just as vibrant.

On April 7, more than 500 guests arrived at the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Fla., for the museum’s 2022 gala, which raised over $2 million to support museum programs and exhibitions. This year’s theme celebrated its exhibition Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, which is the largest grouping of Kahlo and Rivera works ever to be on view at the Norton.

The Norton Museum of Art's 2022 gala was held in a tent built on the northeast corner of the museum’s campus. Nashville-based event management company Harbor Entertainment, who produced and designed the event for the sixth time, incorporated yellows, blues and terracotta reds into the decor.The Norton Museum of Art's 2022 gala was held in a tent built on the northeast corner of the museum’s campus. Nashville-based event management company Harbor Entertainment, who produced and designed the event for the sixth time, incorporated yellows, blues and terracotta reds into the decor.Photo: Capehart Photography

“The color scheme was really pulled from her home,” said Kasey Dedo, creative director for event management company Harbor Entertainment, which counts 2022 as its sixth year producing and designing this event. “A lot of yellow, blue, a really saturated terracotta red—that’s really the base of the inspiration.”

Dedo added, “There’s a great virtual tour you can take of [La Casa Azul], so you can see everything. She has a lot of very traditional Mexican handicraft items in the home, so that was a huge piece of inspiration as well—especially pottery and textiles, pulling a lot of those pieces in.”

This year’s gala celebrated the Norton's exhibition Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, which is the largest grouping of Kahlo and Rivera works ever to be on view at the museum.This year’s gala celebrated the Norton's exhibition Frida Kahlo, Diego Rivera and Mexican Modernism from the Jacques and Natasha Gelman Collection, which is the largest grouping of Kahlo and Rivera works ever to be on view at the museum.Photo: Capehart Photography

Norton’s 2022 gala was held in a tent built on the northeast corner of the museum’s campus, where guests were treated to cocktails in the garden, dinner, live music and late-night dancing. Dedo said a tent environment can be a challenge decor-wise, compared to a space with preset rigging points—"it’s a bit different than coming into a room and being able to hang anything you want”—but a fun challenge. “We have a big, blank space to work with, which is the dream.”

Decor highlights include floral linen that Harbor Entertainment had custom-made from Nua Fabrics, a Mexican textile manufacturer. Dedo discovered Nua Fabrics through another show Harbor was producing, and at the time they were promoting a new line based on traditional Mexican embroidery.

Mexican textile manufacturer Nua Fabrics custom made floral linens for the event as a nod to Frida Kahlo's beautiful embroidered clothing, some of which was on display at the museum's exhibit.Mexican textile manufacturer Nua Fabrics custom made floral linens for the event as a nod to Frida Kahlo's beautiful embroidered clothing, some of which was on display at the museum's exhibit.Photo: Capehart Photography

“Part of the exhibit at the Norton displayed Frida Kahlo’s actual clothing, which is beautiful,” she said. “Everything is embroidered with bright colors and tassels.”

Large chandeliers hung above guests and were created on steel frames with fabric wraps and hanging tassels in all of the event's colors. Dedo said to make the ceiling decor stand out, it had to be large to match the expansiveness of the tent.

These large chandeliers were created on steel frames with fabric wraps and hanging tassels. Harbor Entertainment creative director Kasey Dedo said to make the ceiling décor stand out, it had to be large to match the expansiveness of the tent.These large chandeliers were created on steel frames with fabric wraps and hanging tassels. Harbor Entertainment creative director Kasey Dedo said to make the ceiling décor stand out, it had to be large to match the expansiveness of the tent.Photo: Capehart Photography

But Harbor Entertainment’s team, which is based in Nashville, is well-versed in this particular event, and counts its cohesive workflow with the Norton team as paramount to its continued success. Drew Dedo, Harbor’s founder, said the museum team also creates interesting challenges to keep it new and different each year.

“Fostering a really positive working relationship with your client is probably one of the best pieces of advice that I could give to any [event pro],” he said. “From our end, we really have enjoyed it. I was born and raised in West Palm Beach, and I used to go to [Norton] as a kid before that museum expanded to the size that it is now. It’s a full-circle moment to be from South Florida and be able to come back and do something on the home turf.”

Dedo added that working with the blank canvas of the tent means the event looks vastly different every year. "Having the inspiration of the museum and to have a set exhibit to work from as well gives us such a clear place to start. It makes it really fun on our end, design-wise."

VENDORS
Design and Production: Harbor Entertainment
Florals: Tom Mathieu and Co.
Lighting: Fusedog Media Group
Catering: Constellation Culinary Group
Valet: Palm Beach Parking
Band/Entertainment: The Millenials (talent provided by Zanadu Group)

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