“There’s not going to be a moment that lacks for something weird and wonderful,” says Asheville Area Arts Council executive director Kitty Love. While that sentiment could sum up many an Asheville-based event, it’s exactly what revelers want to hear when making plans for either Halloween or the arts council’s annual Color Ball. Happily, both occur on Saturday, Oct. 31, with the ball held at the suitably atmospheric Masonic Temple. Think “three floors of wild entertainment [and] deliciousness for the palate and the eyes,” says Love.
The fundraiser for the local arts council had become a tradition, with each year’s theme built around a particular color. Past balls have been decked out in Emerald City green, oceanic shades of turquoise, angelic white and regal purple. Since the chosen shade evokes not only a mood but plenty of cultural references, no two color balls are alike. This year’s hue, perfect for Halloween, is onyx. The color, says Love, “is evocative of the deep dark mystery within, which can come a bit more to the surface with the help of a secret identity.” She’ll be dressed as a silver spider and says those adorned in the dark shades will fit right in with the enigmatic adventures inspired by the Masonic Temple.
“I love the dark, and the unique perspective creative people bring is enhanced when they have delved into dark places,” Love continues. “The ball has a history dating from the early 2000s and has always had a color theme, but we like to spin the color around a deeper thematic element as well these days. In this case, we chose the lusciousness of onyx and the mystery of the masquerade because everyone loves wearing black and trying on a persona other than their own. Especially on Halloween.”
Local Afro-pop band Zansa will perform, and a live art auction is planned. The Color Ball also includes an installation by local artists, including works by Jonas Gerard, Hayden Wilson, Anna Jensen, Court McCracken, Anthony Pulitano, Colby Caldwell, Jessica White, John Dickson, Josh Copus, Justin Turcotte, Karen Brown, Margaret Cogswell, Molly Sawyer, Ralph Burns, Randy Shull and Ron Laboray.
Love says these contributions, ranging from stark sculptures and fall-themed mixed media to vibrantly color-splashed oil paintings and black-and-white photography, all focus on the cycle of life and death.
The event’s setting is a work of art itself. The Masonic Temple, aka Mount Hermon Lodge No. 118, was designed by Richard Sharp Smith (a Freemason himself, known for his work on the Biltmore Estate and numerous contributions to local architecture) and opened in 1915. Its membership makes up the oldest fraternal organization in Western North Carolina. The building’s theater houses 48 backdrops installed and hand-painted by Chicago artist Thomas Gibbs Moses. In 2010, under the direction of John R. Yarnall, the Asheville Masonic Temple opened to the public and local entertainers, a move that helps earn revenue toward renovations.
“The night and the space are such a perfect match,” says Love. “The history and the specialness are an absolute gift to the event.”
WHAT Asheville Area Arts Council’s Onyx Ball, ashevillearts.com
WHERE The Masonic Temple
WHEN Saturday, Oct. 31. VIP reception at 5:45 p.m., Color Ball at 6:30 p.m. $35 general admission/$100 VIP