The Wrecking Ball gala

Westmoreland museum prepares for renovation with evening of fundraising

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What to wear to a gala that has every intent of morphing into the Kennywood midway?

"Wear something you don't mind messing up," advised Christie Black, public relations director at Westmoreland Museum of American Art, where the Wrecking Ball will be held Saturday.

It will be the last event before the museum closes for two years of expansion and renovation construction that will include a new wing. Programming will continue at a temporary location. Attendees will pay homage to the historic building on North Main Street in Greensburg. Then they'll get to work swinging a sledgehammer to dismantle walls that just don't fit the building remake, earning the right to take a piece home.

"Our goal is to make people feel they're a part of it. Roll up their sleeves and be part of the future of the museum," Ms. Black said.

It's also an opportunity for usually well-behaved museum visitors to act up a bit and "do things they don't normally do," Ms. Black said, "such as write on the walls or eat, drink and dance in the galleries. It's going to be really fun."

The night may offer the only opportunity for some to see their artworks displayed in the museum -- when they paint them on the spot in the black light gallery.

The evening will include music by disc jockey Mr. Owl and interactive graffiti with artists Gabe Felice, Mike Felice, Danny Devine, Andy Scott, Anthony Montagnese, Michael Budai, Brian Holderman and Terrell Crawford.

An old ball gown that you're tired of and work boots is one dress suggestion offered by Bree Larkin, museum manager of events and visitor services. "Wear your stilettos with your coveralls, your work boots with your tux," the invitation says.

Deciding what to wear is a challenge, Ms. Black admitted. Attendees may show up in home renovation project garb. "But we also realize that people like to dress up for things."

The choice may be easier for those attending the 9 p.m. to midnight After Party, which has a more casual vibe than the gala. The gala runs from 7 to 9 p.m.

If going to both, you could "bring a change of clothes for the deconstruction part of the party," Ms. Black said.

And, covering all bases, the museum will have white cover-up T-shirts for sale. Or, bring your own, Ms. Black said, and have it screened with a Wrecking Ball design. The bottom line dress code is come as a work of art or, at least, leave as one.

Tickets may be purchased at www.wmuseumaa.org. Reservations may also be made with Ms. Larkin at 724-837-1500, ext. 36, with the caution that staff is traveling between the old and new locations and may not respond immediately. Tickets may also be purchased at the door for either event.

Tickets are $150 for the gala and After Party and include catering by Bob Sendall of All in Good Taste Productions, an open bar and valet parking. Admission for the after party is $40 and includes light bites, beer, wine and signature cocktails and valet parking.

A groundbreaking for the renovation and expansion will be held at noon Friday. The Westmoreland plans to reopen in the spring of 2015.

On Wednesday the museum will open at its temporary location, Westmoreland @rt 30, 1000 Village Drive along Route 30 east of Greensburg. The building is the former Stickley-Audi Furniture building, and is located across from The Inn at Mountain View.

Museum activities will continue there, including Friday Evening Salons, Brown Bag lectures, family days, children's art classes, Art on Tap 5.2.7 happy hours and free Sunday Studios for families. The museum shop and light refreshments also will be retained.

A grand opening for the temporary site will comprise an extended Art on Tap 5.2.7 from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 9. The $15 admission will include a complimentary Westmoreland @rt 30 glass, local bites and brews, music and scavenger hunts.

Until Aug. 7, hours will be from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays and until 8 p.m. Fridays. They will then change to noon to 7 p.m. Wednesdays through Fridays and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m Saturdays and Sundays.

Details: 724-837-1500 or www.wmuseumaa.org.

neigh_east - neigh_westmoreland

Post-Gazette art critic Mary Thomas: mthomas@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1925.


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