Out of This World

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute underwent an intergalactic makeover last Friday evening (March 20) for Planet Clark, the last of three Clark After Dark events this winter. Washed in blue lights and filled with every sparkling, glowing or blinking decoration imaginable, the Clark packed in patrons dressed in various degrees of alien wear.

Every detail of the event played into the space theme, down to the planetary punch and the ‘onion rings of Saturn’ served.

The highlight of the night was a specialized print talk led by the director of the Center of Education and Visual Arts, Michael Cassin; a selection of works were pulled from the archives, and shown and discussed in the print room of the library for one night only. The small room only fits 14 people, and only four talks were given throughout the night.

“This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see this art collected and presented in this way,” said Lesley Anne Grow-Winfisky, events coordinator for the Clark.

“I have to find some way to connect the theme with things from our collection,” said Cassin. Cassin decided to focus on mythology, selecting five prints of figures that eventually ended up in the night sky, including the moon, Venus, Mercury, and the constellations Hercules, Andromeda and Perseus.

An engaging storyteller, Cassin brought these prints to life by weaving classic tales of love and brutality among the gods.

“Think of it as being the ancient equivalent of a daytime soap opera,” Cassin said. The presentation was conversational and entertaining, and afterwards people had the opportunity to get a closer look at the prints, which consisted of engravings, etchings and a drawing.

“My colleagues know how to make the best of me,” Cassin joked. “I’m not a party person—stick me in a quiet room with some pictures and some people to talk to.”

Clark After Dark, now in its fourth year, is organized by staff members from various departments of the Williams town, Mass. landmark. The other two events this year were themed around the Renaissance and Spanish flamenco; all three aimed to bring attention to the exhibits and events at the museum.

“It does bring a little bit of money in, but the goal is really to bring in young professionals and increase the diversity of the members of the Clark,” Grow-Winfisky said. While there were many young people in attendance, the crowd ranged widely in age, with specific aspects of the event attracting people of different ages.

“There’s some people who aren’t necessarily going to get up on the dance floor, but like to come to the events because they like to be around the excitement,” said Sally Morse Majewski, manager of public relations and marketing for the Clark.

The dance floor remained fairly empty until around 10 PM, when more young people began to show up to move to the sounds provided by DJ Tigerbeatz. A hula-hoop workshop that coordinated with LED hoop dance displays throughout the night grabbed the attention of all varieties of people—from a 20-something in a spandex space-suit to a middle-age man in a business suit.

Clark After Dark was created after the success of a marathon-like 50 hours of art and activities in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Clark.

“That sort of got us thinking, what we could do to get people to come to the Clark in the evening and experience that,” said Majewski.

Clark After Dark is expected to continue next winter, but in the meantime young professionals can attend a full calendar of summer events, including Cocktails With O’Keeffe, a small group gallery talk and wine party on July 10 at 5 PM.

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