Masquerading for Maryville Arts Coalition

Donning masks they created for the Midsummer Night’s Dream Masquerade Ball are, from left, Monika Vincent with daughter Luna, Annamarie Gundlach and Katie Gamble.

Donning masks they created for the Midsummer Night’s Dream Masquerade Ball are, from left, Monika Vincent with daughter Luna, Annamarie Gundlach and Katie Gamble.

For anyone who ever wanted to transform themselves by slipping on a mask, the Maryville Arts Coalition has just the ticket: an evening of fun, dancing, music, good food and a celebration of arts in the community, all in a masquerade setting.

The hall at St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church will be transformed on Friday, March 5, into the world of the Shakespeare classic “Midsummer Night’s Dream” as guests enjoy a masquerade ball fundraiser for Maryville Arts Coalition.

Planners said the event will be an opportunity for people to support the arts in the community by becoming art themselves. “We knew we needed an annual gala fundraiser, and we thought, what better way to have a gala party that celebrates all aspects of art than at a masquerade ball,” MAC board president Katie Gamble said. “You come as a piece of art. We figured we could use literary arts as an inspiration, hence the ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream.’”

Guests will also be treated to a contemporary dance performance, a live art auction and hors d’oeuvres. Blount County’s own David Dwyer will keep the evening animated as “Puck” and master of ceremonies.

Gamble said the Foothills Community Players will be participating and two of their members will perform a scene from the play. Sarah Dickinson is choreographing a dance performance. “We’ll have live music and a live art auction. What is more exciting than having a live art auction incognito with everyone in masks, so you don’t know who is buying what,” she said. “That’s fun, I don’t care who you are. We also are going to have great food. Something Savory will be catering.”

Festive attire is encouraged, but masks are required. Guests are encouraged to use their imagination to create a unique mask or buy one at the door. Masks and costume prizes will be awarded.

The ball will be held at St. Andrews Episcopal Church, 314 West Broadway, at 7 p.m., Friday, March 5. Tickets are $50 and may be purchased at Boyd Thomas Clothing, Dandy Lions Gifts, Razberries, Village Tinker or from MAC board members. Masks may also be purchased at those locations during the Last Friday Art Walk on Feb. 26.

“We thought a masquerade ball was an excellent way to celebrate all the disciplines of art - theatre, music, dance, visual arts and literary,” Gamble said. “We hope everyone will come out for an evening of fun to help us promote the arts.”

Gamble said Blount County sculptor Mike Janke is creating a sculpture decoration for the masquerade ball. “He’s creating a forest scene for the “Midsummer Night’s Dream” theme. It’s a three dimensional sculpture you’ll be able to walk through and become part of the experience,” she said. “It’s almost like you’re part of the performance.”

Realizing a need to raise funds while raising awareness in the arts, MAC organizes the monthly Last Friday Art Walks. Even though the walks are now into their third year, MAC has never done a fundraiser to underwrite expenses from the event.

“We realized we needed to do a fundraiser because it takes money to do the things we’re doing, and we haven’t had any kind of fundraising,” Gamble said. “The theme will change each year but it will always stay a masquerade ball.”

Monika Vincent is on the committee planning the event and said the gala is a great idea as a fundraiser. “It is nice to have a fixed event that is going to come back every year. We can start looking forward to it every year and getting excited. I’m looking forward to dressing up and enjoying the evening.”

Gamble, Vincent and Annamarie Gundlach gathered recently at Fine Arts Blount ArtSpace Gallery on East Broadway Avenue to make masks to sell for the event. “We have some fabulous masks. Some are from Italy, and Italy has a tradition of masquerades and the masquerade ball,” Gundlach said. “We’re trying to make the masks very elegant and whimsical. Every mask is a work of art.”

Gamble said planners opted to make and sell the masks as an additional fundraiser.

“People can create their own mask or buy the mask from us. They will be able to have their own souvenir,” she said. “It will be part of a wonderful memory of something new that Maryville hasn’t experienced.”

Gundlach said patrons will be impressed with the masks. “They’re going to be lined for better quality,” she said.

Gamble said the masks are high quality Italian masks they ordered on line. “We’re embellishing them ourselves. Each one is different and unique,” she said.

Gundlach said planners have all the bangles and bobbles, feathers and ribbon to create unique masks. “The tradition to make them elegant and whimsical,” she said.

Gamble said some masks will be made to compliment one another for couples who want to have a similar look. “We plan to have men’s masculine masks and women’s feminine masks,” she said.

Masks are priced anywhere from $15 up to $30. “Some of the feathers are expensive, and it takes a lot of time and material to create some of the masks. That is why some of the more elaborate ones will be more expensive,” Gamble said.

Gundlach said masquerade balls are way for people to get outside of themselves for the evening. “This is a good opportunity to hide behind a mask and reinvent yourself. If you want to be a coy vixen, you can, or if you want to be phantom of opera type, you can be that type,” she said. “This gives you the opportunity to reinvent yourself and escape for the evening.”

Gamble said people are surprised by the masquerade ball fundraiser. “I think everybody is really excited about it. There has been a lot of interest and tickets are selling and we’re hoping for a really good turnout,” she said. “We decided to limit the tickets so there would be enough room so everybody could see each other in their art. If you get it too packed into a room you can’t really see everybody. Part of the fun is to see and be seen.”

In addition to dancing, live music and plenty of food, Gamble said there are going to be door prizes given for the most creative costumes and masks for people who make their own.

The Maryville Arts Coalition is a non-profit dedicated to enriching the community through the arts through a collaboration with multiple discipline events and opportunities.

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