The Henry transformed its gallery into a woodsy fairyland for its annual gala Saturday, February 9. They took inspiration from the recently exhibited artist Jeffrey Mitchell whose whimsical style often includes bears and owls. Clever cardboard art decorated what is normally the top floor gallery space. Large cutouts of bears, deer, birds and other wildlife occupied corners and walls. The small spaces in the gallery created an intimate atmosphere and some had a unique vibe of their own. One room was converted into a Whisky Lounge with vintage velvet sofas and a large fire projection, while another was partitioned for dancing to the DJ’s tunes and colorful light effects. Tables were decorated with birch branches, fern leaves and candles. Capitol Hill restaurant Lark catered the event, including themed cocktails—which were perhaps a bit too themed, with sap resin bitters and chamomile liqueur.
Fashion-wise, the theme had its positives and negatives. Some people interpreted the forest theme as an excuse to dress like a lumberjack. This seems to be the constant conundrum of Seattle fashion; the moment the casual seems to be allowed, people jump at the chance to maintain a scruffy, sometimes frumpy, apathetic appearance. The line was crossed by a few who wore jeans—simply disrespectful in the context of a event where people invest time and care in their appearance as a sign of respect to one another. It is not surprising that there was an abundance of plaid, but this is not to say that plaid is always a negative. The tartan look can be avant-garde and inventive. There were men in checked dress shirts under their dinner jackets, and one gentleman in particular stood out in a plaid blazer. Artist Anna Telcs dressed up her sleek plaid button down with a full-length black skirt.
Some guests simply wore classic dresses paired with beautiful jewelry and accessories, showing that they know how to dress for a gala of any theme. But the real fashion stars of the night were the themed accessories, which included fanciful bird nests, butterflies and feathers accentuating the hair and decorating lapels and hats. Those who really committed to their style choices stood out among the crowd—people even seemed to be magnetically drawn to them. Someone with a bird in their hair has to be more fun, naturally! Other less traditionally feminine accessories also added to the theme of the night. Fur hats and vests created a darker, more animalistic quality. One women even went to the extreme of pairing her ensemble with a sheath of arrows and a feather headpiece.
The downstairs gallery remained open for the event, giving guests a rest from the party atmosphere and the chance to explore the new exhibit, Now Here is Also Nowhere. Volunteers were present to answer questions about the work. To peruse the art in gala attire has its own allure and elegance, but perhaps it was an instinctive retreat for those who felt awkward about dancing in a nearly empty room or maneuvering the tightly packed tables. That said, the night felt like a success, and no matter what people were wearing it is always a delight when people are supporting and experiencing the arts.