The Daily Gamecock

Columbia Museum of Art hosts Black and White ball

Young professionals organization draws crowd for '60s themed costume party

A trio stepped into the Columbia Museum of Art Friday for the Contemporaries' Black and White Ball dressed in go-go boots and a series of printed mod dresses. With their hair stacked high, it was abundantly clear that they'd done their homework and were indeed dressed for the '60s "British Invasion" themed event.

"I love [the ball]," said fourth-year political science and environmental studies student Heather Clarkson. "I love all the fun stuff that goes on with the Contemporaries and I love that it actually supports the arts."

Clarkson, wearing a printed dress with capped sleeves, said that while she did dress for the '60s, she didn't have a certain muse in mind. She was one of many dressed in only black and white with outfits ranging from an Odette applique tank and pencil skirt in black and white, to a floor-length black Notte by Marchesa gown.

One of the dresses was a dead ringer for the dress depicted in Lauren Maurer's art piece "Vintage Celia Dress." The piece of art was a part of the silent auction of her work, which was a series of black and white watercolors depicting dresses on dressmaker's dummies.

Of course there were some outliers, one being a gentleman with a painted face and royal gold and red robes that seemed a bit more suited for the 1600s than the 1960s.

Yes, even some of the guys dressed up with more than the standard pleated tuxedo shirt and black suit or even white dinner jacket. One of the male servers instead opted for a bit of drag, wearing a short black wig and a printed mod dress.

The ball is the sixth annual event put on by the Contemporaries of the Columbia Museum of Art. This year's chair, Jodi Jenkins, said that the Contemporaries always attempt to incorporate a masquerade element to the event, which is held Halloween weekend annually.

"This year when we started talking about ideas, we started talking about The Beatles' 'White Album'," Jenkins said. "And then there was the royal wedding and all of this interest in British culture: it just seemed really appropriate."

Jenkins said that these conversations began right after last year's ball. The event is one of the group's largest fundraisers, and benefits the Contemporaries' Art Acquisition Fund. The Contemporaries are responsible for the commission and purchase of the Chihuly Chandelier in the atrium, a project costing more than $360,000. The organization and the ball grow every year, with the first year's ball hosting about 100 guest while last year's hosted 500.

The committee planned every aspect of the ball, which included a Beatles tribute band, The Return, free makeovers by Urban Nirvana, an authentic British pub and a photo booth staged with a London phone booth.

"I think there is huge interest in art from the young people," Jenkins said. "Through the universities and young people who've grown up here, there's a lot of support for the arts and I think that's exciting."