Tell Maurice Sendak we know where the wild things are. They’re raging in a rumpus in Alabama Contemporary Art Center (ACAC) a week before Halloween.
The sleek showplace at 301 Conti St. will host its first Wild Things Ball on Thursday, Oct. 24, 7 p.m to midnight. It is multipurpose mania.
“We wanted a closing event for Urban Wild because it’s been such a wild success,” Director of Exhibitions and Public Programs Elizabet Elliott quipped. “It’s a good opportunity for us to celebrate how far we’ve come, where we’ve been and where we’re going.”
The exhibit equating contemporary DIY work, much of it public, with what was previously tagged “outsider” art concludes Oct. 26. Its pieces run an expansive gamut of styles and influences.
Over the last year, ACAC was also the recipient of $100,000 from the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts and $50,000 from the Daniel Foundation of Alabama. A recent $12,500 from the Alabama State Council on the Arts will pay for guest curators next year.
Altogether, it is reason enough for a party. With that decided, local focus remained primary.
“We’re turning the video gallery into a swamp, like building boats to suspend from the ceiling. We wanted to shape the event around celebrating this place and what it means to be Southern, which means a lot of things to a lot of different people,” Elliott said.
Appropriately, the event has a little Mardi Gras flavor, hence the “ball” aspect. That’s why attendees who don’t have a Halloween costume are instructed to wear their “dusty old formal attire.”
The Delta Swamp Sirens, a Joe Cain marching society, will be there in full regalia. Another group organized by Neu Dawn impresario Courtney Matthews will be on display.
“They wanted me to dress up people like I normally do and have them standing around, but when Allison [Skoda, director of K-12 education] described it, she said, ‘Like how the Azalea Trail Maids stand around.’ I couldn’t get that out of my head,” Matthews recalled.
Matthews told around 15 artistic pals to design something around traditional design elements of the Maids — hoop skirt, parasol, hat — but let loose with material, color and theme. Katie Vogtner, Brandin Stallworth, Angela Harley, Richard McGill Hamilton, Jessica Price, Sarah Thompson, Valerie Iliff and others will unveil their work that night.
It wouldn’t be a Mobile happening without libations, so a trio of bars will dole out a signature cocktail: Wild Whiskey Fizz. Serda Brewing will provide more potables and Greer’s will assist with finger foods.
The Underhill Family Orchestra will supply live music. DJ Hot Lobster will spin sounds when the musicians aren’t in the spotlight.
The tastiest bits in this trick-or-treat bag are the wealth of prizes available. There are prizes for costumes, naturally, and more for intermittent short-fire dance contests.
The prize packages being raffled are the big booty, though. They run in value from $675 up to $1,220 and include things like spa days, dinners, boat charters, beach-front cabin stays, salon appointments, photography sessions, kayaks, Mobile-Tensaw Delta tours, tubing trips, artwork, concert tickets and far more.
“We want it to be as big and as fun and as crazy as possible so we’re calling in all the favors that we can possibly call in,” Elliott said.
Raffle tickets run from $5 to $20. They’re drawn at night’s end.
“Anybody who chooses to live this deep in the South, they care about the specific kinds of experiences that you can have here that you can’t have other places,” Elliott explained about assembling the prize packages.
Entrance tickets start at $35 for singles and $50 for two, and any entrance ticket carries with it ACAC membership. Other deals with reciprocal memberships for other cultural institutions and VIP Lounge access are available, too.
Rainbow Mobile is helping staff the event with “the most beautiful Kings, Queens and In-betweens our fair city has to offer,” per the ACAC website. Apropos, since it sounds like the Wild Things Ball will do for Azalea City Halloween shindigs what the Order of Osiris did for Mardi Gras balls.
The Thursday date keeps the Wild Things Ball out of conflict with the abundant Halloween parties sure to follow on Friday and Saturday. It also makes a perfect kickoff to what has become one of our nation’s biggest holidays.
How big a soiree? How much work goes into this?
“We only plan on doing it once every two years. We can’t commit to every year, but we probably won’t change the name,” Elliott said.
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