Todd Takes On… Claes Oldenberg

Say what you will but The Walker knows how to throw a party.And on Saturday, 21 September, it threw two of the most anticipated parties of the fall. While my l’étoile colleagues were dancing the evening away at the annual Avant Garden gala (which you can read all about in Beth Hammarlund’s review of the event), I ended up going to the Walker After Hours party celebrating the 1960s.

Since this was my first time at a Walker After Hours event, I was surprised by several things. First off, I was astonished and delighted that there was so much going on all over the gallery; from art projects in the art lab in the basement, to DJs and live music in the McGuire Theatre (including a glorious 60s girl group set by Annonymous Choir – fronted by Nona Marie of Dark Dark Dark), there was plenty to see and do. And eat and drink (though I was initially confused by the option of mini sliders and french fries in paper bags, until I realized that it played into the theme of the night and the reason for the party – more on that in a minute).

Of course the theme of the night was the 1960s which lead to some exquisite people watching throughout the night; the fashions ran the gambit from mod inspired looks, to full on hippie mode and everything in between. One woman served up Edie Sedgewick realness, while another sported a fascinator inspired by the iconic sculpture “Spoonbridge and Cherry.”

The Walker always ties their After Hours parties with the opening or pre-opening of a major exhibition, and this one was no exception. Walker After Hours attendees got to see the new exhibition Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties. This landmark retrospective of the Pop Art and soft sculpture pioneer (and guest of honor at the Avant Garden party) is an examination of his work in that turbulent period; collecting major pieces from all of his various phases in that decade (his early graffiti-inspired series “The Street” and “The Store,” his soft sculpture work, the Geometric Mouse projects, the Ray Gun museum, and the Monuments series which includes “Spoonbridge and Cherry”) along with rare films and process pieces on his work. This is one of the times where the hype is true; it is a staggering display of and introduction to Oldenburg’s key works. (Click here for a whirlwind tour of the exhibit in fifteen seconds.)

If there was one complaint I had about the evening it was that with so many great activities spread out over the museum it felt like everyone was missing something; some people didn’t know that the Oldenburg galleries were open, some missed Anonymous Choir’s set, and so on. Also the event felt incredibly short to have so much going on at one time. But that is a small price to pay for an event that was stuffed to the gills with so many interesting things to see and do at The Walker.

Click here for my colleague Beth Hammarlund’s review of the Walker’s “Avant Garden” 2013 Gala.

Photo Credits: Walker Art Center, Todd O’Dowd

Originally published on 23 September 2013 for l’étoile magazine.

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