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John Lamb, Published April 30 2013

Spring Gala attendees wearing love for art on their sleeves

FARGO – With a silent art auction featuring more than 90 pieces of work, delicious wine and beer tastings, plenty of tasty food and lots of great music, the Plains Art Museum’s Spring Gala is always one of the biggest, most colorful parties of the year.

But really, one of the biggest attractions is seeing what people wear.

For 16 years, the annual event has given adults an excuse to get all gussied up for the night. But over the past few years themes for the evening have suggested a more creative flair for dressing up.

Masks and hats were recent subjects for the night.

This year the Gala, held Saturday night, reflects the “Andy Warhol: Creating Myth and Icon” show. Guests are encouraged to grab their 15 minutes of fame by dressing as some sort of icon or in some fashionable way.

“A lot of people may be struggling with what you can wear, but it can really be any icon for you, anything you come up with,” says longtime Gala-goer Brian Hayer.

“For me, Campbell’s Soup is what I think of when I think of Warhol,” he says, referring to some of the artist’s signature works with branding.

But spending the night in the can doesn’t mean he’s standing in place all night.

“I love dancing, but we’ll have to see,” he says.

Though he’s been attending the event since the beginning, his accompanying friends have grown steadily.

“A group of us started going about six years ago, and we started calling it our adult prom,” says Hayer.

He says the group would dress dapper, the men in tuxedos and the women in evening gowns. The whole ensemble would roll in style, being dropped off in a limousine.

But as the themes grew more creative, so did their outfits – and their ride. Hayer says the past few years his entourage has rolled up in a 1970s-era motorhome.

This year Hayer and his friends are rising to the costume challenge, channeling the era and art of Andy Warhol.

“What I remember about Andy Warhol was Studio 54,” says Ruby Kolpack.

She’ll be dressing for the club’s party vibe (though not actual fashion as the club operated from 1977 to ’81) as a “party girl” from the late ’60s, early ’70s.

Susan Neuenschwander is following Kolpack’s lead as a “party girl.”

“I was struggling a bit,” Neuenschwander says, explaining how she, too, became a party girl.

“I actually own these clothes, though I don’t wear these earrings much,” she says pointing to a pair of plastic yellow loop earrings. She also points to her feet to show off boots she bought as a 19-year-old in London.

Their friend Jim Sweeney is tipping his cowboy hat to a piece from the show, a portrait of Western movie icon John Wayne.

Neil Ebeling also gives a nod to pop culture, dressed in a slim suit and tie as a ’60s-era businessman.

“It matched up with the ’60s and ‘Mad Men,’ ” says the fan of the stylish TV show.

Jessica Magness says it’s easier for men to find a particular character to dress as.

“It’s really hard to find iconic costumes for females. I think more women will go for a decade look,” she says. Saturday night she’ll be dressed as a hippie.

But she tells her fiancé, Ebeling, that the era of free love ends with her and that he better not get too comfortable in the roll of “Mad Men” lothario Don Draper.


Readers can reach Forum reporter John Lamb at (701) 241-5533

If you go

What: Spring Gala

When: 7 p.m. to midnight Saturday

Where: Plains Art Museum, 704 1st Ave. N., Fargo

Info: Tickets are $100. (701) 232-3821