Arty party: TMA welcomes the community back with Howl

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I saw the best minds of my generation trapped indoors, quarantining and away from museums. But those days are coming to an end as venues reopen and community events fill downtown Tucson. Although the Tucson Museum of Art has held some events since reopening, their upcoming Howl at the Museum will be their largest event in more than a year, and serves to invite the community back to the beloved historic block. 

Howl at the Museum, which takes place on Friday, Oct. 29, is part food tasting, part costume contest, and part concert, all while serving as a fundraiser for one of Tucson’s oldest art museums. Howl is also a rebranding of TMA’s annual Crush fall festival. Museum staff say TMA is keeping the successful elements of Crush, but aligning more with Halloween and art. 

“For many years we’ve had a fall party, but this is the first year for Howl,” said Cami Cotton, TMA director of development. “It’s a little different, because this year we’re putting it right next to Halloween, so we can have a costume contest and other Halloween games. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be connected to Halloween, either. Two years ago, we were under construction, so we had to hold Crush in the street and parking lot. And last year was of course COVID, so this year is really a celebration of being back.” 

Like their previous fall events, Howl will feature a variety of local food and drinks for sampling throughout the museum plaza. So far, Commoner and Co., Flores Market Run, Prep & Pastry, Café a la C’Art, Portal Cocktails, La Cocina and Finley Distributing are on the food and drink list. In addition, Whiskey Del Bac will be hosting a special Del Bac Showdown cocktail competition. 

“With this, we’ll have four contestants and they’ll be mixing their drinks and there will be samples for attendees to taste and vote on for the best,” Cotton said. “That can get pretty exciting, with a lot of cheering for different contestants.” 

With more of a focus on art, Howl at the Museum will also feature multiple local performers: Alternative Latin band Los Esplifs will perform with a mix of cumbia and rock. DJ Herm will spin records. Drag queens will put on a fabulous show. Tucson’s hip-hop dance group The Drop Dance Studio will shake things up. And Tanline Printing will be doing letterpress art. 

As the event is only two days from Halloween, there will also be a costume contest judged by the aforementioned drag queens. Guests can arrive to Howl in their costumes, but Halloween costumes are definitely not required. But if you need a costume quickly, TMA invites you to visit the nearby Tucson Thrift Shop & The Other Side Vintage/Costume Shop. 

“We brought over the food and drinks from Crush, but we’re placing more emphasis on art with Howl,” Cotton said. “Of course, Howl can refer to Halloween, but it can also just be about getting excited about the museum.”

Guests are also invited to take a break from the festivities to explore the art in the museum. Although TMA is not unveiling any new art for the event, Howl will fall in the middle of their premiere exhibition of Swiss-born, Tucson-based painter Olivier Mosset. 

Over several decades, Mosset’s massive, limited-color paintings have challenged art norms. According to TMA, the exhibition, simply titled “Olivier Mosset,” presents important paintings from the 1970s, 1990s and 2000s, including new large-scale modular paintings and both constructed and ice sculptures. Through such works, Mosset “consistently engages viewers’ expectations about art and how they encounter it.” (Masks are not required outdoors in the museum plaza, but they are required in the indoor galleries.)

“We’re trying to get people into our museum that may not have been in before, or haven’t been in a while,” Cotton said. “So the museum is completely open for people to walk through and see the exhibitions if they want to take a break from the party and wander around.” 

Howl at the Museum

Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block, 200 W. Alameda Street

Friday, Oct. 29, 6 to 9 p.m.

Tickets: Member $35 / Non-Member $40

Proof of vaccination or negative test required

tucsonmuseumofart.org/howl

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