Why would the Record review “a lively evening for young professionals?” Good question. I found myself ruminating on this very query as I walked from the parking lot towards the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute last Thursday, a few feet behind two men in their mid-twenties, both of whom were sporting suits. I looked down to remind myself of what I was wearing: a t-shirt, jeans and sneakers. Damn.
I was on my way into the inaugural Clark After Hours event last Thursday, an event I was made aware of by a poster hanging in Paresky. I kept reminding myself that, surely, the good people at the Clark would not have advertised an event that was not meant for students in a student center. As I followed my fellow young people into the Clark, I began to feel as though that was wishful thinking…
Things did not improve upon entering the lobby of the Clark, where I was effectively robbed. Newsflash: Conversation and craft beers with the Berkshires’s finest young professionals do not come cheap. And forget the craft beers – it’ll run you about $16 per person just to get into this chic affair. And by “chic affair” I mean that my 19-year-old girlfriend and my 21-year-old self attended, and although we are young, neither of us is a professional and, don’t forget, I was wearing jeans. We paid our respective fees and, feeling not unlike feudal peasants forced to pay an annual tithe, headed downstairs for the real nitty-gritty. I’m talking silk screening stations, a cash bar, some “music” and, lest we forget, the young professionals.
In truth, the setup was rather meager. As I descended the stairs, my eyes were immediately drawn to three images on display. No, not real paintings. The Clark had printed out images of three pieces in their collection and attached them to cardboard or foamcore – I’m not sure precisely what the material was, just that it was underwhelming. The pieces included the bronze cast of Edgar Degas’ “Little Dancer Aged Fourteen,” Antoine-Louis Barye’s “Tiger at Rest” and Frederic Remington’s “Friends or Foes? (The Scout).” These three images were the inspirations behind the three different designs one could silkscreen print onto a tote bag, with the words “The Clark” underneath. The silkscreening was fun and the finished product was complimentary – I was feeling a little less robbed.
I decided that I needed to celebrate my new tote bag – I chose to silkscreen the scout from Remington’s painting on the side – with a nice alcoholic beverage from the bar. Huge mistake. Above, you’ll notice that I described the bar as of the cash variety. So I begrudgingly forked over nearly seven dollars for a rather small glass of beer from the folks over at the recently opened Bright Ideas Brewing, a local microbrewery housed in MASS MoCA. The beer – I had the IPA – was admittedly good. (Sorry, Evan, if I’m stepping on your toes… Go read a review of the place by Evan Wahl ’17 in Features this week.) But I couldn’t help but feel as though my beer would have tasted that much better if it had been free or at least a tad more resonably priced.
To conclude my largely negative review of the event, I’d like to offer some advice to the Clark, but also to anyone thinking about throwing an event that brings together large amounts (or even medium-to-small amounts) of people. Don’t use the same Bose SoundLink Mini Bluetooth speaker I have in my dorm. If your event advertises music, then I better damn hear it.
Now, to actually conclude my overwhelmingly negative review of Clark After Hours. First, I am, without a doubt, not being understanding in this critique – I did mention that this was the first ever Clark After Hours event. Mistakes were made, and I’m sure the Clark staff will improve for next time. But perhaps most importantly, I am no young professional. This event was not intended for me, and that was made abundantly clear just before I left the Clark. I realized that, all around me, the real young people with jobs were talking with one another, drinking good beer and making new friends. Perhaps the Clark After Hours succeeded after all, and I was never meant to go. But, in my defense, they did advertise in the student center.