The Art of the Summer Social


The napkins may or may not be pressed, but the champagne glow of soft lights will soon beckon us to cozy up to breezy summer cocktails and easy conversation with friends.  It is June, and “Summer Social” season is upon us.  Officially defined as an informal gathering, a “summer social” is a well-loved tradition of Southern, as well as Appalachian, culture.  From backyard barbeques to slinky soirees, the warm temperatures make formality more of a nuisance, rather than a hallmark of style or manners.  It is a time of year when etiquette rules seem more flexible, like the new growth of a willow, rather than the rigid oaks of other seasons.  Thus, it is the perfect time of year for folks to try something new, take a risk with party plans, and give folks a wider range of social experiences at events and functions.  Rose Center Council for the Arts is taking full advantage of the opportunity to break traditional molds by offering a very limited number of guests a special evening of art and conversation.   


There is mighty buzz surrounding this latest endeavor undertaken by the creative folks on the Artist Advisory Council at Rose Center.  If all goes according to plans, the evening will prove to be a truly unique event in the Rose Center calendar.  According to the buzz, the event is strictly limited in the number of guests permitted, with early bird ticket purchases being the key to inclusion.  Also, word in the local art scene is that a whole collective of artists is busy readying work, so that each and every guest goes home with a high-quality original work of art.  However, in true topsy-turvy summer social fashion, Rose Center is interjecting some irreverent fun into the event by allowing guests to trade and swap their pieces.      


Normally, when we think of owning art, we think about a highly personal choosing experience, where we thoughtfully select pieces that move us or speak directly to us in some intimate way.  However, this unique event promises to demystify that process and bid us rethink how we approach our ownership of art.  Word is, that as guests arrive, they will be given a number which matches up to a piece of art that now belongs to them.  They can keep it and take it home to treasure forever.  Or, and this is where the fun begins, they can take a look around at what other folks received, and try to tempt someone to trade with them. In this very simple way, the entire notion of sacred exchange between artist and buyer is entirely upended, challenged, and debated.  This is the awesome power of the summer social—the power to make the sacred mundane. (Had it been a winter month, guests could be listening to Bach and wondering if the demi-glace will come out of the fine silk of a black tie.) It is also sure to produce some wonderful conversation, hilarity, and unusual exchanges during the event. 


Won’t the artists be offended by all the trading, you ask?  We asked that, too, and were totally amused to find out that the entire event was planned and developed by the local stalwart artists of the Rose Center Artist Advisory Council, namely Peggy Brewer, Jim Palmer, Carol Rouse, Beccy Hamm, Dan Gibson, Liz Michael, Heather Ehret, Bob Spirko, and Vicki Kinser.  Apparently, artists want their art to be viewed, owned, talked about, and shared, only slightly more than they want to find the perfect fit between buyer and piece. Of course, we can’t speak for all artists or buyers here, but we can still be thankful for the easiness of the season.  


So with a tasty, yet light, dollop of irreverence, Rose Center reminds us to take life a little less seriously, to give generously when we can, to engage in great conversation with friends, and to slow down to a cocktail and good food this summer.   Ensuring guests embrace the ambiance of the event, Cool Breeze Jazz will be providing a steady stream of tunes featuring,  Hank Hussen on keys, Jason Conway on drums, Jim Patterson on bass, Todd deMaria on Trumpet, and Stuart Green on guitar.  And, for those who like to choose what they get, there will also be a silent auction during the event with a variety of items from which to choose. 


Sponsored by Commercial Bank and Aubrey’s Restaurant, Rose Center definitely puts the Art into the Summer Social on July 18th, from 7 – 9 PM. Tickets are $35 per person and are on sale beginning July 1st.  There will be a cash bar, and complimentary food will be supplied by Aubrey’s Restaurant. For more information, visit rosecenter.org or call 423-581-4330.  

The Midsummer Social is an event developed by the Artists Advisory Council of Rose Center Council for the Arts. 


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