A House Party For Creativity

Wax Fang. Photo courtesy of Wax Fang

Wax Fang. Photo courtesy of Wax Fang

In a mere matter of weeks, the Speed Art Museum will be re-opening. It’s an event years in the making as well as one that has been counted down at The Voice-Tribune for months. Beginning on Saturday, March 12, at 10 a.m., the Speed will be celebrating the occasion in a way that only this newest iteration can – with a 30-hour public opening.

You read that correctly. The opening event for the new Speed Museum – or rather, series of events – begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday and lasts until approximately 4 p.m. the next day: a duration of a whopping 30 hours. If that sounds absolutely insane to you, you’re not the only one. When Ghislain d’Humières, CEO of the Speed, presented the idea, he met some skepticism.

D’Humières, who served as the assistant director for the similar opening of the new de Young museum in San Francisco, explains, “We wanted to make a statement, a surprise for the entire community. When we talked to the staff, some of them were hesitant, but many of the younger staff members said, ‘Let’s do it!’” That excitement and passion is certainly evident in the Speed opening’s programming, a schedule of nearly 100 events, talks and other activities all together.

What will happen is the Speed Art Museum will reopen its doors to the public, and what will follow will be 30 hours of non-stop music, performances, interactive activities and art provided by distinguished local artists, musicians and cultural partners.

Jecorey "1200" Arthur at Access Ventures. Photo courtesy of Tim Harris

Jecorey “1200” Arthur at Access Ventures. Photo courtesy of Tim Harris

After the ribbon-cutting ceremony, patrons can enjoy the free celebration by attending gallery tours and art activities as well as performances and activities presented by such various and sundry local arts organizations as the Louisville Orchestra, Louisville Ballet, Kentucky Opera, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Walden Theatre/Blue Apple Players and The Center for Interfaith Relations. A diverse concert program, curated by Jecorey “1200” Arthur, will include live music by Wax Fang, The Tunesmiths, Rachel Grimes, Tyler Dippold, Anemic Royalty, The Junkyard Hawks, The Louisville Leopard Percussionists and many more.

Throughout the celebration, Tibetan Buddhist monks from the Drepung Gomang Center For Engaging Compassion will be creating a world peace sand mandala – a Tibetan Buddhist tradition involving the creation and destruction of religious and spiritual diagrams representing the universe made from colored sand – in the Special Exhibition South Gallery. The process normally takes several days, but the monks will be creating this mandala in just 30 hours. Do not miss this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Evan McMahon is the special events coordinator for the Speed, so his was the unenviable task of handling the logistics for this ambitious opening. “We had to juggle a lot, obviously, but when we sent an [email] blast off to arts organizations, we got an amazing response,” he says.

In addition to the already mentioned acts, Ben Sollee will be performing live music set to yoga with Shadia Heenan. This mixed-level vinyasa class includes a creative flow of asanas (poses) that will guide participants through meditative movement as they connect the mind with the body, deepen their breaths and begin their days with clarity and rejuvenation. This event start the day on Sunday at 9 a.m.

As if that were not enough, the events feature something for everyone and from various arts disciplines. There will be theatre performances from Stage One, Walden Theatre/Blue Apple Players and Kentucky Shakespeare; live readings of books and stories inspired by visual art from around the world presented by Carmichael’s as well as a late-night video game extravaganza, complete with Xbox One and Kinect setups. The Speed’s new state-of-the-art cinema will feature 30 hours of non-stop film, and there will be countless pop-up talks given by museum curators and other experts that will appear at certain times and at various location throughout the 30 hours.

“We want the new Speed Museum to be a house of creativity, a place that can be home for all the different kinds of art in the world,” says D’Humières. If that is so, this just may be the biggest house party in museum history. If there’s anything to lament about the opening, it’s that it’s impossible to do it all. That being said, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try. VT