Inside the MAM’s annual Bal du Lac
There have been many times we’ve stepped into the grandiose, white, gleaming Windhover Hall of the Milwaukee Art Museum and felt the grace of a magical themed evening. But this past Saturday evening at the 52nd annual Bal du Lac (translated “Ball of the Lake”), many in attendance were raving about the transformation of the space.
For this year’s gala fundraiser and dance event, which saw the likes of many local corporate names like Kohl’s, Johnson Controls, and main sponsor Baker Tilly, along with many public figures, executives, and personalities like Betty Quadracci and Chris Abele, the theme was “Alice in Wonderland.” This was a reflection on the current Accidental Genius: Art from the Anthony Petullo Collection, which is said to be a recurring pattern in this gathering of self-taught artists.
The designers and hosts Christine Fenske Eben and Eric Eben, and Laura and Jeff Lukas brought in giant inflatable mushroom and flowers illuminated by copious amounts of LED lights. Organizers had arriving guests pose in their black-tie tuxedos and formal gowns alongside Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Queen of Hearts and other Wonderland performers in a trippy, hypnotic hallway. The main hall itself was decorated with a smiling Cheshire Cat, day-glo ottomans, high-top tables, chandelier lamps, and sported a private stock of available wines for the evening being guarded by a winsome smoking caterpillar. Copious amounts of well-placed LED lights then filled the normally white room with an aura of wonder.
The $300-a-plate event was furnished with appetizers and tapas from Shully’s Cuisine and Events, which were devoured while attendees chatted and pored over the items up for bid at silent auction. The MAM relies on members, donors, and sponsors to come up with $8 million a year to bolster the $14.1 million in operating expenses for one of the city’s shining jewels and educational meccas*. The Bal du Lac was certainly the place to put a face to these names we often see only on a wall or wing of the museum.
TCD got an exclusive look at this year’s event, and we have chronicled it through select images below in our slideshow. To visit the whole set, you can visit our flickr set here. Accidental Genius closes after this week, at which time there is a pause in feature exhibitions, although there are special exhibits by Tara Donovan (watch TCD this week for a preview and interview by Tom Strini), Isaac Julien’s True North, and one of the new Kohl’s art education rooms feature art at the movies through animation. The next feature exhibit starts June 1 with The Posters of Paris.
Mar 16th, 2015 by Jeramey Jannene
The warm weather drew a large crowd, including Mayor Tom Barrett and the Wacky Wheeler.
Nov 27th, 2014 by Jeramey Jannene
The 88th annual downtown parade lit up a gloomy weekend, as our photos attest.
Oct 21st, 2014 by Michael Horne
Man-about-town Michael Horne captures and comments on the scene, with photos, of course.
Oct 21st, 2014 by Richard Davis
Acclaimed production captures love affair tested by Civil War. Our photos capture the action.
Oct 14th, 2014 by Heather Meuret
The beer and music flowed and there was a great turnout, all captured in our photos.
Sep 30th, 2014 by Garrick Jannene
It was a slice of DIY heaven, as attendees could get lessons in 3-D printing, blacksmithing, wooden bowl making and robotics.
Apr 10th, 2015 by Richard Davis
Unusual joint exhibition at two Milwaukee galleries offers the nostalgic work of Rafael Francisco Salas.
Mar 24th, 2015 by Rose Balistreri
Robin Jebavy’s large, still life paintings are showy, but how much is below the surface?
Mar 4th, 2015 by Richard Davis
Grohmann Museum show offers paintings, prints, maps and photos of the peak days of Milwaukee Road train line.
Feb 20th, 2015 by Richard Davis
A photographic exhibition captures the drama of polka culture in Wisconsin.
Feb 17th, 2015 by Rose Balistreri
Ukrainian photographer Mila Teshaieva captures three Asian countries now adrift in a haunting exhibition at Haggerty Museum.
Jan 20th, 2015 by Michael Horne
Great art and great crowds, but I couldn’t help imagining what it would be like with a streetcar connecting all the galleries.