Last Friday, Gilcrease Museum held the first event in their Gilcrease After Hours series, free late-night exhibits the last Friday of every month. The event, TGIFrida Friday, focused on the life and work of Frida Kahlo, a prominent Mexican painter best known for her symbolic self-portraits. Her influence could be seen everywhere, from the colorful decor to the acoustic music to the members of Gilcrease staff costumed as Kahlo.
The entrance, past the Gilcrease’s gardens and bust of Simón Bolívar, featured a snake handler and a photobooth with props operating out of an old VolksWagen van. It did an excellent job of setting the fun, exotic, and vaguely Mexican vibes that persist once one enters the door.
Music from local musician Kalyn Fay Barnoski could be heard in the hallway leading to the main room, where visitors found Barnoski herself and some delicious Mexican appetizers to snack on. The atmosphere was enticing, but this was also the point when I saw the crowd and discovered that there were far too many people at this event.
Those snacks were never going to last the obscene amount of time it would take to actually get into the main exhibit, which wasn’t even actual artwork by Frida. Instead, on display was the “Frida Kahlo: Through the Lens of Nickolas Muray” photo exhibition. The photos could have been interesting in their own right, but I didn’t manage to get in to see them and was told that there were so many people crammed into the exhibit that the art itself was barely visible.
Even 15 minutes before the museum closed, after an hour of looking at an interesting west Mexican ceramics exhibit on the other side of the venue, the line to get to the photography still had at least 30 people in it. Who knows if they would have kicked me out if I was still in line at 9:00, but at that point I didn’t want to waste the staff’s or my own time by trying.
The Gilcrease After Hours series certainly started off with a bang. It was clear that a lot of thought went into planning the event, as the venue felt colorful and engaging. Unfortunately, the event was too popular for its own good. Perhaps later events in the series won’t be as crowded, but for TU students who get in free any time with their student ID, it’s easier to leave the atmosphere behind and actually get to see the exhibits on their own time.