On the Town: Henry Art Gallery Gala + Dance Party

Posted on February 17, 2016, 6:18 pm
4 mins


Photography by Christopher Reicks

The Henry Art Gallery, a leader of Seattle’s contemporary art scene, transformed from gallery to party venue on Saturday February 6 for their annual Gala + Dance Party. Beginning with a cocktail hour, dinner and a raise-the-paddle fundraiser benefiting the museum’s programs and exhibits, the evening then transitioned into a vibrant dance party that continued on until the clock struck midnight.

Guests dressed to the nines–and then turned it up to eleven–to stay with the theme of “Dress {UP}: Let It Go To Your Head,” which encouraged funky headpieces, hats and all manner of creative head-toppers. As the Gala attendees arrived at the Henry’s on-campus entrance, they were greeted with a flute of champagne and a red carpet step-and-repeat. Continuing down onto the mezzanine, featuring a bar fully stocked with drinks by event sponsors Big Gin and Our/Seattle vodka, party-goers were able to catch up with friends and appreciate the imaginative outfits of their fellow attendees.

The party was simultaneously festive and filled with mystery, goaded on by masks and makeup, fascinators and fanciful outfits, artistic lighting on the dance floor and a suspiciously enormous top hat in the dining room. Gala Committee Members, employees at the Henry, artists, donors and arts appreciators alike all mingled together for pre-dinner cocktails. At 7:15, the dinner bell was rung by entertainer Martha Joyce, sporting a sky-high red pouf sentimental and calling the guests into the dining room.

As attendees were sitting down to dinner, a sudden swarm of performers in black surrounded and mixed amongst the long tables–a flash mob of minimalistic hand claps, tone clusters and modern dance that only added to the intrigue of the evening. As dinner was served, compliments of Lark and Chef Jonathan Sundstrom, the top hat split open to reveal artist Jeffry Mitchell, who proposed a “toast to the future” of the Henry Art Gallery. Auctioneer Kevin Joyce–dressed as Salvador Dalí, waxed mustache and all–took the stage to engineer the raise the paddle fundraiser. “Raise it like your creative soul depends on it!” he goaded, and the guests readily obliged: Business leader and arts patron Bill True immediately pledged $10,000 towards the Henry, and the auction ended with an astonishing 100 donors at the $100 level. Henry director Sylvia Wolf took the stage to thank the Gala Committee, chaired by Jean Bender Jarvis, and the guests continued to enjoy the food and the company.

Dance party guests started to filter in around 9pm, and what was an elegant cocktail venue just hours before transformed into a raucous dance floor, fueled by Chateau Ste. Michelle wines and Big Time Brewing Company pints. Performance and installation artist Graham Downing advertised “Really Shitty Caricatures – Free!” throughout the night, sketching Sharpie portraits with his non-dominant hand in a genius stroke of entertainment. Creatively costumed guests got down to entertainment by Al + Andrew of Amateur Hour entertainment, celebrating a successful evening of generosity in support of the Henry Art Gallery.

Check out the gallery below for a taste of The 2016 Henry Gala, and see how Seattle lets it go to their head!

Claire Biringer is a Seattle-based music lover, educator and writer. She holds an MA in Music History from University of Washington, where her primary research involved contemporary opera and its social implications. She enjoys using music and writing to build communities and broaden minds.