Tickets on sale for HMA’s ‘It’s a Mod Mod World’ fundraiser

April 16, 2019

HUNTINGTON — The forecast for Friday, May 31, in Huntington — cool.

It’s like Don Draper suit-wearing, martini-drinking while gazing upon an iconic Charley Harper-drawn cardinal cool.

Break out the Jello molds, the pimento cheese and all the Blenko Glass, as the Huntington Museum of Art has dreamed up a fabulous mid-century-style party called “It’s A Mod Mod World.”

The Friday night cocktail party soiree that runs 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, May 31, will give patrons a sneak peek into the highly anticipated Charley Harper exhibit that will be open to the public the next day.

Tickets are on sale now online through Eventbrite and also at the museum for the themed dress-up event that will feature themed hors-d’oeuvres and drinks, music by crooner John Eric Booth, both themed and non-themed silent auction items, and a first chance to see the Harper exhibit before it opens.

Tickets are $65 for general admission (includes beer and wine) and are $100 for VIP (which includes VIP lounge access, signature cocktails, craft beer and wine). Due to space, tickets are limited. There are also three sponsorship levels as well.

For ticket information or sponsorship opportunities, contact HMA Board of Trustees Member Jessica Pressman at Jessica.Pressman@gmail.com. All proceeds benefit the Huntington Museum of Art.

Pressman, a museum board member known for helping organize such large parties as Rails and Ales (through the Better Beer Coalition.) She said the idea for “Mod, Mod World,” came about after she found out Museum senior curator Chris Hatten was reeling in a summer show highlighting Harper.

The Frenchton, West Virginia, born and raised modern artist has spent his career in Cincinnati, and is also known around the world for his very recognizable style.

Harper, (1922-2007) was best known around the world for his highly stylized wildlife prints, posters and book illustrations.

He illustrated The Golden Book of Biology, magazines such as Ford Times, as well as many prints, posters, and other works for such naturebased groups as The National Park Service, Cincinnati Zoo, Cincinnati Nature Center, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and the Everglades National Park.

Pressman said she thought it would be a blast to theme out a mid century fundraiser and specifically tie it to this art exhibit since Harper’s minimalist realism style was birthed in that post World War II era.

“When I found out we were going to have an exhibit here, and because I love to plan events and I am on the museum board I was talking to Terry (Deppner) about this idea of wanting to have an event at the museum that is inspired by art,” Pressman said. “So we’re not just having a fundraiser but tying it into the art. This artist in particular appeals to generations of people. Lots of young people are into Charley Harper and lots of people who grew up in this era are into Charley Harper. What is interesting is that people have come out of the woodwork from around the state contacting me because they love Charley Harper — he is just beloved. We are

trying to get that next generation of museum lovers and supporters engaged into the art and into the building.”

Deppner, who just finished up organizing Uncorked for the Marshall Artists Series a couple weeks ago, said they’re already having a great time thinking of things to theme out to the era from furniture from Charleston’s Purple Moon, lots of Blenko Glass, updated twists on so much fun 1950s party foods, and a photo booth to capture the spirit of the evening.

At the event, patrons will get to see the not-yet-opened exhibit titled “Macy’s Presents Charley Harper: Works from the Hausrath Family Collection” that goes on view at the Huntington Museum of Art on Saturday, June 1, and has a free public opening reception from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, June 2.

Hatten said the neat thing about the weekend is not only did the party naturally evolve out of the exhibit, but that the exhibit came about somewhat serendipitously as well.

After chatting with Pressman about Harper’s work, Hatten was in Cincinnati at the Cincinnati Art Galleries, a successful commercial gallery that happens to be owned by someone with a Tri-State and Huntington Museum of Art connection. That owner, David Hausrath, and his wife Debra lived here for 18 years before moving to Cincinnati. She worked for a time at the Education Department of the HMOA, while David was the Senior Vice President and General Counsel for Ashland, Inc.

“It sort of fell into our laps literally,” Hatten said of the summer exhibit. “We were at the Cincinnati Art Galleries and I said, ’Hey do you know anybody here in Cincinnati that collects Charley Harper we would love to have an exhibit. He said I have a great collection personally. We have been to his house to see it and it is unbelievable.”

Hatten said although they have a number of Harper’s works in the HMOA Permanent Collection that there had not been a Harper solo exhibit in at least 30 years.

Pressman, who didn’t know Harper was from West Virginia until a conservation a while back with Chuck Hamsher of Purple Moon, said that she thinks when local residents connect with the familiar birds and animals drawn in Harper’s style that they will feel that magic that she feels looking at his work.

“What is very special to me is that I am a birder and those are birds that I see in my backyard every day because he grew up here in the state,” Pressman said. “Those are familiar to me, and that is a really cool piece of this too — that I think people will be able to relate to.”