April 22, 2009

SBMA NIGHTS "Uncover Cultural Myths"

A night of delectable unadulterated pleasures for the eyes, ears, and mouths....

The Santa Barbara Museum of Art out did themselves with this year's first "Nights" event. Themed "Uncover Cultural Myths," SBMA had rooms filled with Afro-Pop/Nu-Jazz remixes, an 18h century themed film, a scantily clad Baroque ballet troupe, and a parlour "play" portrait studio. As a Museum Nights veteran, I made sure to take in the sights instead of just socialize. I passed on the craft tables where patrons could make a message in a bottle (upstairs, for those in the know) and other tables where they could make masquerade styled masks. Far too often I have missed out on the music, performances and art by giving in to other distractions. This time, I found the Company XIV dancers and followed them until I planted myself as close to center as possible in the crowded museum to their performance area. Backed by a contemporary string quartet infused with african drums, this Neo-Baroque dance troupe stepped out on the floor in gender-bending costumes and danced an erotic tale of lust, jealousy, and deadly competition. I was enthralled by the tale, enough to forget that I had ditched my friends and only had five minutes before they cut off the alcohol.

After replenishing my champagne, (therefore utilizing my last drink ticket - they are not refundable), I meandered into another room in search of my friends. To my delight, I wandered into The Parlour Play Portrait Studio, a "Victorian Gothic/Steampunk" themed portrait parlour. Here my friends were dressing in costume peices supplied by the museum and posing for professional portraits with the beautiful Kendall and cross dressing Matt. I was instantly pulled into a portrait, handed a fake pistol and cane, and posed provocatively for the camera.

As always, there is way too much to see and do, and I ended up missing some of the installations. Music (check), performance (check), photos (check). Still there were rooms I did not even get to in my 2 plus hours at the museum. I did see an interesting exhibit with life sized hounds and a fox, but couldn't tell you why it was there. I missed the film with what looked like 18th century aristocrats. I missed the crafts, but that was fine with me, although the message in a bottle looked as if it could be worth doing. I missed the live poetry reading recited by a costumed Tunisian/French Hip Hop Artist in five languages. But most of all, I missed the food, which is almost always the case at these events.

The SBMA Nights are usually some of the best events of the summer. It is always good to plan ahead so you can thoroughly enjoy the experience and don't get too distracted by all the fun. I find it's best to try for three different experiences, which I luckily was able to do this night at the expense of ditching my dear friends. But that's just how I roll.

For more information on upcoming events visit www.sbma.net/nights.

To see photos from THE PARLOUR PLAY PORTRAIT STUDIO visit www.sbma.net/nights/parlour.