The Halsey Institute’s 5th Annual Membership Event felt a lot like Heaven: bright white light, walls covered in what looked like stain glass, and crowded with people who seemed confused, wondering how they had gotten there. On the topic of Heaven, if the Friday image stands true, there will be wide food spreads, free wine, and no option of coat check. That being said, the warmth of the Halsey interior was pleasant, considering the chill of the Charleston night. The upbeat tunes of Garage Cuban Band increased the illusion of summer heat, as did the aforementioned overhead lighting.
For me, a Charleston artist’s single print set the tone. Colin Quashie, whose “wry, ironic, and irreverent art” shoved the night full-force into an unavoidable religious epiphany, opened my eyes to a thematic stage of Holy City delight. Quashie is one of many “Hall of Patron Prints” creators. These featured patrons have had shows at the Halsey, and in remembrance, they leave a special print with a Halsey focus when they leave. Left by Quashie was a print of the fictional magazine CQ, featuring a bearded man on the cover with the headline, “Can the Lord Jesus Christ Be Gay?”
The unexpected celestial imagery continued in the main hall. The College of Charleston Art History and Studio Art departments collaborated to create an “Illuminating Pages” series, wherein the students copied medieval style in what resembled church stain glass windows. The featured artist of the night in the main gallery was Aldwyth, a collage and assembling artist, and yet the idea of God watching carried forth into his Casablanca (classic version), including a multitude of famous artists’ works, surrounded by eyes of all sizes and shapes, watching the audience. (Perhaps, judging the audience?)
The patrons of the Halsey event were somewhere between Heaven and Hell, drinking their wine and dancing to the percussion. Some even resembled works of art themselves, and as they interpreted the works of talent—Charleston and beyond—they fit in with the bright overhead lighting and the old school foreign beats. Dancer Beth Coiner portrayed a drunken and yet precise Cuban gentleman, in her wide-brimmed white hat and black ensemble for an upbeat audience. Romantic couples took their turns on the full-sized Halsey signature moon backdrop, doing their best to make it into the celestial sphere. What can I say? I suppose attendees touched the heavens upon entrance, whether they expected a heavenly journey or not.
See more Charleston events in the City Paper HERE.