Avant Garden brings the party to the Sculpture Garden

JAHNA PELOQUIN | Updated 9/23/2013

Coinciding with the Claes Oldenberg retrospective opening, the Walker's fundraising gala capped off the summer in style.

The chance to get gussied up and party in the middle of the Sculpture Garden is too good to pass up -- and so we did accordingly at Saturday night’s “Avant Garden,” the Walker Art Center’s annual fundraising gala. With tickets starting at $100 and rounding out at $1,000, it attracted a crowd of stylish, art-loving young professionals and top donors alike, as well as arts-supporting Mayor R.T. Rybak. The “Gold Key” portion of the evening (accessible to $500-plus ticketholders) featured live and silent auctions with works by big-name artists like Jenny Holzer, Richard Serra and Gary Hume up for grabs -- plus a rare sketch by Claes Oldenburg, whose retrospective exhibit opened at the Walker proper the same night with an After Hours soiree. DJ Jake Rudh capped off the night, lending the dance floor his signature Transmission style. But the most memorable moment came at the end of the evening as guests posed for photos in front of a spotlighted "Spoonbridge and Cherry," which created a magical, shadowed effect. Speaking of the famous Oldenburg sculpture, we spotted a number of guests in "S&C"-inspired garb, from a jacket featuring a "Spoonbridge and Cherry" original print by local designer Christopher Straub (worn by gallery owner Anita Sue Kolman) and a handmade cherry headpiece worn by another guest.

Our only criticisms? Presumably out of incremental weather concerns, the gala was held entirely enclosed under a tent this year, leaving out much of the magic of having a dance party in the center of the Sculpture Garden -- not to mention the over-the-top, Alice in Wonderland-esque styling of last year's event. And the fact that it was held in conjunction with the After Hours opening party for Claes Oldenburg: The Sixties made it difficult to attend both parties -- and Twin Citians hate missing out on their art parties.

[Photos by Ellen Dahl Lawson for Vita.mn]