A Different Kind of Party

Last weekend’s party at the Addison Gallery celebrating the “Birth of the Cool” exhibit offered students a new, unexpected way to spend a Saturday night: in an art museum. While the event immersed its guests into the “cool” 1950’s, Southern Californian culture, students couldn’t help but feel older and more mature. Thanks to the organizers’ effective advertising and creation of a sophisticated atmosphere, many students dressed up for the occasion. “Birth of the Cool,” in comparison to other exhibitions at the Addison, was an exhibit that naturally called for an interesting dress code. The exhibit featured over 150 objects, including paintings, graphic designs, architecture, furniture, film and music from the modernist era and payed homage to Los Angeles as a key American cultural center. Guests were asked to dress semi-formally or “mod,” a 1960’s-born fashion trend that features geometric shapes and wild patterns, which created a festive ambience for the attendees. Contrary to popular belief, the Student Activities Board (SAB), of which I am a member, was not associated with the planning of this specific weekend event: it was an independent student initiative. SAB in fact only advertised it on the Weekender. Jacqueline Hall ’08 had been organizing this student-directed gallery event since Fall term. She deserves great praise for this well-received artsy student soiree. The Addison also deserves our praise, as this event not only effectively appealed to students, but was also inspirational. It should not be forgotten and and should definitely be repeated. There was a great turnout despite competing with the Mardi Gras dance in Borden the same night. Some people did not attend because of conflicting events like “A Taste of Honey.” Brenna Liponis ’10 thought that, “the posters were very well done” and had she had the opportunity to go, she would have. There were many good reviews from all attendees, who seemed to be predominantly girls. Michelle Mariko ’10, who only briefly attended the event, said, “They used an interesting variety of mediums for the exhibit. It was just a little repetitive. I was impressed with some people’s attention to detail when they were dressing in mod.” As Andover students, we are so used to dressing down and getting by each class-filled day in casual dress. Having the opportunity to wear formal clothes to an event other than a trivial Sadie Hawkins dance allows students to experience something new. In the spirit of Miles Davis’s album “Birth of the Cool,” from which the exhibit derives its name, this showcase looks at the masterpieces of all types of artists during the Californian postwar-era society, a period of culture to which many students had not been exposed. In the showing rooms, there was a theme-based display, whether house structures or old cartoons. There was a media piece with animation, film and television shows. As some curious students paused to gaze at the pieces on the walls, others rested on mod furniture, engrossed in the Californian lifestyle. Everyone felt more mature gazing at art while listening to smooth jazz. Instead of just being young, stressed students shuffling from commitment to commitment, an Andover student had the chance to be a grown-up. Michael Scognamiglio ’10 commented that he “felt like an adult. It was almost like I was at a big New York City party with supermodels all around me.” Though he was joking (mostly) about the supermodel part, he was not far from the truth. The majority of guests said that it was nice to do something that was different from normal gallery events. It was also interesting to dress up in a different style other than the normal and more casual weekend attire. Though it may not seem apparent at the moment, “Birth of the Cool” introduced something new. On the weekends, students do not always have to dress down and attend the same old dance in the “U-room.” They should go to more events like this one to experience sophistication and art all while staying on campus. We should have more events like this that allow students to go to a mature event because it creates a new, valuable experience. A sophisticated event like “Birth of the Cool” does not always have to occur at the Addison Gallery. It is possible for such events to happen in the Underwood Room, as well. But every once in a while, students need that opportunity to be able to sip mocktails and look at art, and pretend that aren’t actually at school but someplace far “cooler”: a museum.