A jester on stilts and an Oompa Loompa (of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fame) greeted guests at the front doors of the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (BIMA) last night, December 13, for a lavish evening to remember hosted by BIMA architect Matthew Coates.
In a kind of thank-you gesture, which happened to fall on the 6-month anniversary of the Museum’s opening, Coates pulled out all the stops to celebrate the impressive achievement of those who created the Museum, as well as those whose creations it was created to showcase.
As if the art itself was not adornment enough, the party featured a live Marie Antoinette serving table; intricately appointed mimes in green, blue, red, and gray; a magician full of surprises; a lively band; and twinkling holiday decor. Champagne, martinis, and wine flowed freely, as did the schmoozing among museum supporters.
Chef Greg Atkinson, his wife Betsy, and their Restaurant Marché crew dished up delicacies that included oysters on the half-shell, mushrooms on a bed of phyllo dough, steak kabobs, Brussels sprouts with squash, bacon-wrapped dates, and mini sandwich thingies with fresh greens. The “hearty appetizers” were followed by a colorful array of unusual and tasty desserts, such as plum cake, green tea cake, and chocolate balls.
An evening highlight was the presence of artist Gayle Bard, whose bold work is currently exhibited in the Museum’s lovely second floor space.
More surprises ensued. Coates presented founding visionaries Bill Carruthers and Cynthia Sears with original art works by Gayle Bard. With help from three volunteers, the magician levitated a woman about 1.5 feet out of her chair with what appeared to be a genuine Reiki-like energy. And going again with the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory theme, Matthew Coates surprised the crowd with a secret hidden golden coin in one of the boxes of chocolate handed out to guests. The winner received a hardbound copy of BIMA’s book A Singular Vision, about the Gayle Bard exhibit.
In another display of thanks, the Coates Design crew was treated to appreciative applause for their work on the Museum building.
Executive Director Greg Robinson proudly announced the Museum’s tally of 32,000 visitors thus far, and stated for the record that it would continue to welcome visitors free of charge through 2014. Robinson also told me about his journey from jobs in more renowned museums to the rewards of working for the fledgling BIMA, where he said he has the creative freedom to curate shows without the dictates of large prepackaged touring exhibits that often appear in more established venues.
Judging by the presentation of the two current exhibits by Richard Jesse Watson and Bard, in addition to the permanent displays, Robinson is doing an exquisite job of displaying an eclectic mix of artistic work with coherent narrative, thematic integrity, and aesthetic appeal, while optimizing places for visitors to engage with and contemplate what they are seeing.
The architectural achievement of the Coates design was evident in the versatility of the space as an appealing party venue in addition to a forum for displaying top-notch art, from hanging sculpture, to intimate viewing boxes, to large-scale paintings, and more.
The Bard and Watson exhibits run through January 5, 2014.
- Bainbridge Artist Gayle Bard’s Wallop of an Exhibit Headlines New Things at BIMA
- Bainbridge Island Museum of Art Gets . . . Art!
- BIMA Lecture Series Puts You up Close with Artists: This Week George and David Lewis
- A Sneak Peek at the Bainbridge Island Art Museum in Progress
Photos by Julie Hall.