The countdown is on for the return of one of Birmingham’s biggest arts nights. After a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Art on the Rocks, Birmingham Museum of Art’s art, cocktail and concert event, returns tonight.
From 7 p.m., the halls, galleries and outdoor plazas of the Birmingham Museum of Art will be awash with dancing, DJs, live music and interactive art exhibits.
For years, Art on the Rocks has welcomed patrons into the museum to party alongside bands such as Durand Jones and the Indications and Tank and the Bangas.
Art on the Rocks is usually a three-part series – the BMA hosts a party every month. But this year, the museum is hosting an Art on the Rocks comeback event. Museum staff said planning for the return of one of the BMA’s most popular nights is a mix of emotions, mostly excitement.
“I feel like it just needs to be big because it’s been so long gone,” said Carey Fountain, public programs manager at the Birmingham Museum of Art. “And I really hope it reignites the excitement that Art on the Rocks has. So with us doing one, I think it’s going to set a unique precedent for the future.
In 2019, the theme Art on the Rocks was a nod to his exhibition “Ways of Seeing: Fashion”, a curatorial project documenting fashion through time and space. There is no specific theme this year, says Fountain. Instead, tonight’s concept of Art on the Rocks will be a welcome party for those who like to enjoy the museum after hours, as well as people looking for new things to do in Birmingham. .
Headed to Art on the Rocks tonight? Here’s what you need to know.
Tickets and parking
Tickets for Art on the Rocks are available for purchase online. Tickets will also be available for purchase at the Birmingham Museum of Art tonight. Tickets are $35 for members and early bird registration. Ticket prices will increase to $45 later tonight.
Art on the Rocks is from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. The museum will open at 7 p.m.
This year’s musical guest for Art on the Rocks is Grammy Award-winning Eric Bellinger, who will perform outside in the museum’s upper plaza on the Tito’s Handmade Vodka Stage. Bellinger, a veteran R&B songwriter, has collaborated with artists such as Brandy and Jennifer Hudson. Last month, Bellinger joined Usher and Vedo for Usher’s first NPR Tiny Desk.
Inside the museum
One of the biggest highlights of Art on the Rocks is the interactive community mural in the BMA lobby. For the creative pillar, the museum invites visitors to pick up a brush and paint alongside a featured artist to help complete the masterpiece. In 2019, artist Paul Wilm made the mural.
This year, the featured artist for the mural is Brooklyn-based artist Rico Gatson. The BMA commissioned Gatson as the next artist for its immersive installation “Wall to Wall”, a three-part series that invites artists to activate the museum’s lobby and cafe with works inspired by the city of Birmingham.
Gatson’s “Wall to Wall” exhibit features colorful vinyl compositions inspired by SunRa and influenced by SunRa iconography, as well as a life-size community mural dedicated to the late minister and civil rights icon Fred Shuttlesworth. On August 3, Ruby Shuttlesworth and Dr. Carolyn Shuttlesworth – daughters of the late civil rights leader – painted the first strokes of paint on the mural during “Illuminating Shuttlesworth”, a celebration of art and conversation for social justice icon.
The project will be one of Gatson’s largest murals to date.
“It’s the first time that I’ve invited other people to participate in the process and get involved. And that to me is spiritual. This notion of bringing people together as a community to help complete this piece,” Gatson said on Wednesday, where he shared the stage with Frances Foster White, Ruby Shuttlesworth, Dr. Martha Boyer, Hugh Kaul curator of contemporary art Hallie Ringle and New Siddartha Mitter, York Times reporter. “Of course the Shuttleworths kicked things off. So, I’m really excited about you, the community, as part of making this project happen. Your energy will transfer into the room and celebrate that person.
“I think this kind of artistic representation is long overdue,” said Dr. Martha Boyer, executive director of the Historic Bethel Baptist Church Foundation, in an interview with AL.com. “I believe we understand the story of the story better by using various mediums like art, music, poetry, all of which work to help tell a complete story.”
As usual, all galleries at the Birmingham Museum of Art will be open to visitors. In the cafe, hip hop dance collective Bham Beat Bullies will perform, accompanied by sounds from DJ Smartt.
In the Arrington Gallery, Fen Kennedy, Ann Trondson, Melissa Yes and students from UA’s Theater and Dance Department will present an evening of interactive dance and an art installation called “Surround”, activating music, dance and light projections from the gallery.
Outside the museum
Outside in the BMA’s Sculpture Garden Lounge, DJ and artist Stephen Finley will host a house music set and creative collective Cultured to Create will host an immersive Tik Tok-inspired art installation.
The Paper Doll Bar will also bring its craft cocktail magic to Art on the Rocks with a satellite bar, mixing specialty cocktails made with Tito’s craft vodka. Also on the outdoor lineup is a 360 photo booth, snow cone stand and drag show featuring Birmingham’s top queens.
Here is an overview of the full Art on the Rocks program:
7 p.m. to 11 p.m. | Coffee
Beats in the Museum Cafe by DJ Smartt
7pm – 11pm | sculpture garden
360 photo booth
7 – 11| Garden Lounge
7:30 am | Coffee
7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. | Lobby
Interactive mural with Rico Gatson
7 p.m. to 11 p.m.| Arrington Gallery
Art installation / Dance party “Surround”
8:15 p.m. | Upper seat
8:45 p.m. | Upper seat
Drag the show
9:30 a.m. // Tito’s Craft Vodka Scene