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Birmingham’s Museum of Art rocks out with summer concert series
By Dagny Leonard
Just picture it: you are strolling quietly through the galleries of Birmingham, Alabama’s beautiful Museum of Art, your footsteps echoing in the quiet hallways filled with beautiful artwork.
Now picture yourself doing that again, but add a warm evening, a summer dress, a glass of wine in your hand, and the live music of New Orleans’ legendary Dirty Dozen Brass Band in the background. You are at the first Art on the Rocks event of 2011, a special summer event series hosted by the Birmingham Museum of Art.
“We saw a need in Birmingham, specifically downtown Birmingham, and a lack of involvement with the cultural organizations that went beyond just daytime visits to the museums,” said Cate McCusker, associate director of communications at the Birmingham Museum of Art. “We looked at our membership and noticed that we had a lot of older members and we really just wanted to recruit more young people and show them that the museum can be a cool place.”
In 2004 the museum debuted its solution in the form of Art on the Rocks.
In addition to the after-hours tours of the galleries, every Art on the Rocks features fun activities for guests, such as the scavenger hunt sponsored by Bromberg’s Jewelers (the scavenger hunt winner is prized with a fabulous piece of jewelry).
This year’s series draws its theme from the much-anticipated exhibition Who Shot Rock and Roll: A Photographic History, 1955 to the Present. The bands and activities have been chosen to engage guests in a way that reflects the “rock and roll” nature of the exhibit. Featured bands for the series include: The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, The Posies and the Dirty Guvnahs.
The first Art on the Rocks will take place on June 17, just a week before Who Shot Rock and Roll opens in the museum on June 24. There will be activities to gear up your rebellious rock side, like dueling graffiti artists in the Sculpture Pit, the area that rests between two large walls between the museums gardens. Guests will be able to watch as the battling graffiti artists create artwork throughout the night. Then, if watching the artists in action has you inspired, you can take your ideas over to the Creation Station, where you can make graffiti of your own. In addition to the live performance by The Dirty Dozen Brass Band, guests can listen to Dueling DJ’s and watch the breakdance moves of a b-boy dance crew. Then indulge your sophisticated side with a guided tour of the contemporary art gallery given by the curator of contemporary and modern art.
Come back on July 22 for Art on the Rocks and experience the Who Shot Rock and Roll exhibit. The museum will be giving VIP passes that will include free drink tickets, admission to the section right next to where The Posies’ are playing and night access to the Who Shot Rock and Roll exhibit. Local Birmingham funk/soul artist Sharrif Simmons will also be giving a spoken word performance. For those interested, a curator-lead tour will take you through the “rebel” pieces of the museum, describing the bizarre stories behind the pieces.
The final Art on the Rocks of the summer is sure not to disappoint. The Dirty Guvnahs will close out the series as August’s live performance group. A runway will cut through the museum as Gus Myer puts on a rock star fashion show. If watching the rock and roll runway gives you the fashion bug, you can mosey on over to the Creation Station, where guests can create “wearable” art. You can even take a picture of yourself and your wearable accomplishment in the photo booth that will be set up in the museum for the evening.
Guests buy tickets at the door, $10.00 for members and $20.00 for non-members. Each event averages about 2,000 guests, and draws a wide range of adults.
“It really was popular right out of the gate because there was just such a need for it,” said McCusker. “Birmingham is such a word of mouth place, so it didn’t take much for the word to spread.”
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