Saturday night's IS183 gala isn't just an event, it's an experience

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GREAT BARRINGTON — Camp starts early this year in the Berkshires — at least for the county's night owls.

On Saturday night, they will flock to Eisner Camp for IS183, Art School of the Berkshires' annual fundraising gala. This year's event, titled, "Camp Kitchykinky," includes a pre-party dinner curated by Main Street Hospitality vice president of culinary development Brian Alberg, a silent auction and a dance party. But that's not all the night entails, says IS183 marketing coordinator Carrie Wright.

"It's not just a gala, a dance party, a dinner — it's an experience," Wright said by phone.

Specifically, it's a visual experience. IS183, which has been running art classes for people of all ages and skill levels since 1991, has turned its annual fundraisers into one-night-only installations that showcase area artists' talents. These feats of creativity are well-coordinated.

"In general, IS183 likes to mix at least two or three main themes together to give partygoers and galagoers a little taste of what we are and who we are," Wright said.

This year, the school draws much of its inspiration from film. John Waters' "Cry-Baby" and "Pink Flamingos" as well as Wes Anderson's "Moonrise Kingdom," among others, were influences for the school's gala this year.

"It's like camp-y movies, B-rated movies," Wright said.

Artists began working on their installations about three months ago, according to Wright. Seth Nash, Michael Rousseau and Ben Evans created a lifeguard deck for the dee jay. Parker Chandler and Liam Tierney constructed a camera obscura. Joe Wheaton worked on a 10-foot tall troll. And all of these individuals helped finish a larger-than-life camper that will serve as the bar, according to Wright.

Those are just some of the artists and installations contributing to the Kitchykinky experience. Wright stressed that all staffers play important roles in creating the art and putting on the event.

"A lot of sweat — not so many tears," Wright wrote in an email.

Attendees can help make IS183's a visually stimulating experience by wearing items related to the theme.

"Partygoers are already planning their outfits for the gala, as every year they try to devise costumes that will be more elaborate than last year's," the school's press release for the event said. "Some will be dressed for the party in the retro campy vibe or bad boy biker jackets and greased up hair, or preppy squares mixed with khaki Girl Scout garb."

Costumes are not required, the press release goes on to note. But this would certainly be a night to dig a little deeper in the closet or browse some local racks (Wright was on her way to BerkChique! when this reporter called) for creative attire.

No camp-themed party would be complete without a bus. IS183 will be running three — one leaving from The Porches Inn in North Adams at 6:45 p.m. ($20), another from Hotel on North in Pittsfield at 7:15 p.m. ($15) and a third from The Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge at 7:45 p.m. ($10). Tickets are round-trip and cash-only. Return buses depart Eisner Camp at 12 a.m.

Wright hopes those making the trip not only enjoy themselves but understand the evening's purpose.

"You're helping a community build creation and art-making and hands-on experiences," she said.

Benjamin Cassidy can be reached at bcassidy@berkshireeagle.com, at @bybencassidy on Twitter and 413-496-6251.


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