Expert analysts say it was a hot one on Friday. Luckily, this month’s animal-themed Art Party at the San Antonio Museum of Art was cool enough to make attendees forget (or forgive) the outdoor heat. The cold beer and cocktails provided by The Blue Box probably helped as well, which at $4 and $7, respectively, seemed more reasonably priced than might be expected. For anyone needing further relief, one of three scheduled, specially-themed gallery tours provided an excuse to escape into some air-conditioning.

The monthly cocktail hour is a partnership between the Museum of Art and Trinity University’s KRTU radio station, who takes it upon itself to book the music for the event. As may be rightly assumed, the act is usually jazz, and station manager Monica Reina says the station usually reaches out to bands it has relationships with and plays regularly on the air. In all likelihood, if you’re in a jazz outfit, you’re among that number already, but sending an inquiry to KRTU wouldn’t hurt if you’re keen on landing this gig.

Although the featured performers are normally local, this month’s event brought in The Nightowls, a youthful ensemble with plenty of brass out of Austin. They were particularly energetic and poppy, exhibiting much of the same character as an episode of “Glee,” except enjoyable. And they were fond of Prince covers.

A solid effort was made to provide something for everyone. Tucked into a corner far opposite the bar crowd, children and other sorts who don’t partake could find a table set with implements to enable their creative expression. Eldria and her daughter, pictured below, were first-time visitors to the museum. They were “just stopping in,” she said, but found themselves enjoying everything so much that they stayed.

San Antonio Museum of Art Party
Eldria and daughter bond over art at SA Museum of Art’s monthly Art Party in June.

This event holds a significance beyond a simple good time. Cultural institutions across the nation, and art museums especially, struggle to keep themselves visible, valuable, and viable within their communities. Though few would argue their importance, such places simply do not represent a regular product or service to the average citizen. They are places visited maybe once every few years, or maybe even just once. They are places that many would like to visit more often, if only they had more time or more money, if their friends weren’t doing other things, or if they could just plain remember to go.

The two-hundred or so people present at Friday’s event – two hundred admissions that probably wouldn’t have been sold on a regular day – are a sign that the San Antonio Museum of Art may have found a solution. All it had to do was turn itself into San Antonio’s most indispensable commodity: a party.

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