Museum event welcomes community, expands cultural awareness

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This Saturday the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth is trading its quiet, contemplative atmosphere for a lively and upbeat celebration featuring its annual fall festival, Modern ‘til Midnight.
The museum hosts the event in an effort to draw a younger audience and promote exposure over some of the Modern’s more serious subject matter in a more approachable and entertaining way.
This year’s Modern ‘til Midnight is themed Beats and Baroque. The event takes place from 6 p.m. to midnight at the museum.
Media Relations Coordinator for the museum, Dustin Van Orne said this year he and his team really focused on marketing Beats and Baroque to a younger, more diverse audience who may not visit on a regular basis.
“It was really important for us to come up with a program that was going to get people into the museum – an audience that may not necessarily come into the museum that regularly,” Van Orne said.
Beats and Baroque will feature a variety of outdoor musical performances, gallery tours, dancing and prize drawings for guests.
“We find with these events, people go into the galleries and really engage with the work,” Van Orne said. “It’s not a ‘Oh, I’m going to post up, watch a show and have a beer’ type deal. People are embracing the whole museum experience.”
Van Orne said he and his team try to draw parallels between the types of amenities and music offered at the event and the content of current exhibitions.
For Beats and Baroque, he said the music scene will feature an array of regional bands and musicians performing different styles of music from hip-hop, to R&B, to soul-funk.
“A lot of times, listening to music is a lot like looking at art,” Van Orne said. “It’s a critical experience. People can actually sink their teeth into it, like they can with the artwork in the galleries.”
The Modern’s current exhibition features a collection, A New Republic, by Harlem-based portraitist Kehinde Wiley.
“The main message of Wiley’s work is to call attention to absence in history of people of color,” exhibition curator Andrea Karnes said. “The umbrella themes that run throughout all his work are messages of race, class and gender.”
Karnes said Wiley began to pursue drawing and painting as an 11-year-old. She said throughout his upbringing, he studied art history and began to see a pattern among portraitists in Western art.
“What [Wiley] noticed very early on was that the art world in western culture in general was really focused on the white heroic male,” Karnes said. “So he developed a desire to want to place [people of color] within the same field of heroism and importance. He wanted to give a voice to people who have been omitted or absent from history, art history.”
Karnes said Wiley is strictly a portraitist, but his attention to detail proves how intentional he is in wanting to educate his audience, as much as relate to them.
“He allows background elements [in his pieces] to come to the foreground,” Karnes said. “So often, we as viewers think the background is something we’re not supposed to pay attention to. It’s a like a metaphor for people of color, and how they’ve been treated historically in paintings and art history.”
Since Wiley’s exhibit has opened, Karnes said she has seen how positively Wiley’s work appeals to different types of people.
“We’ve seen many new faces,” Karnes said. “Younger people and people of very diverse backgrounds have come through to explore Wiley’s work and the rest of the museum. It’s something we want in the museum, but we don’t always necessarily get both of those categories.”
Van Orne said guests can easily draw connections between the amenities offered at Beats and Baroque with the subject matter of Wiley’s exhibition.
“Wiley’s work is so inclusive,” Van Orne said. “It lends itself so well to a musically eclectic night, in incorporating styles like opera, hip-hop and R&B.”
During the night of the event, Van Orne said the Cafe Modern will offer its normal dinner menu and pre-packaged picnic-style baskets can be ordered in advance.
Van Orne said Modern ‘Til Midnight extends an opportunity for the public to engage with the museum’s serious subject matter in a way that’s entertaining, comfortable and inviting.
“I think sometimes [The Modern] has less accessible work, sometimes more challenging work,” Van Orne said. “Wiley’s work is approachable, it’s beautiful, it’s graphic. We try to put on exhibitions or shows that are important and valuable to see, both socially and culturally.”
Ticket Prices:
$15 – in advance
$20 – at door
Free for Modern members