Bring Your Sweetheart To "Sugar Smack" Valentine's Day Party At The Clark

For Immediate Release

January 23, 2004

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA (January 26, 2004) -"Maple-sugar sweethearts" are invited to celebrate Valentine's Day at the Clark Art Institute. On Saturday, February 14, from 8 to 11 p.m., the "Sugar Smack" party will celebrate the romantic holiday and the Clark's winter exhibition, Sugaring Off: The Maple Sugar Paintings of Eastman Johnson. Festivities indoors and out will include campfires, sleigh and wagon rides, live entertainment, dancing, and the creative, decadent desserts that have made the Clark's Valentine's Day party the popular annual event of the winter. Five area restaurants are offering special pre-party prix fixe dinner menus. Cost is $45 per person ($35 for members), which includes complimentary wine bar and hot drinks. Special Maple Sugar Bonus packages are also available for $100 per person. Proceeds from the party support educational programming at the Clark. Reservations are required. To reserve, call 413-458-2303, extension 324, by February 7.

The festivities are inspired by Eastman Johnson's images of the New England tradition of the "sugaring off," a party in the woods at which townspeople and farmers gathered around a bubbling sap kettle for a feast. Outdoor activities planned include horse drawn sleigh rides and torch-lit sledding. Partygoers are encouraged to dress warmly, and jeans, plaid, and flannels are welcome. Prizes will be awarded for the most creative use of flannel.

Live music will be provided by the Starline Rhythm Boys. The Vermont-based trio play honky tonk, rockabilly, and "hillbilly boogie," perfect for dancing. Their 2002 CD Honky Tonk Livin' was #1 on the Freeform American Roots chart. 

Desserts and savory snacks will all have a maple sugar twist. Treats will also include Valentine's Day chocolates. In addition to the complimentary wine bar, the featured drink will be maple-infused hot buttered rum.
The Maple Sugar Bonus Package includes admission to the party for one, a premium sleigh ride, an exhibition catalogue, a bottle of the Clark's Massachusetts-made, "Sugaring Off" maple syrup, and other treats.

Partygoers may begin the festivities early at one of the area restaurants offering prix-fixe dinner specials before the party. Space is limited, and reservations are required. To reserve a dinner package contact the restaurant and mention the Clark's "Sugar Smack" party. Dora's Fine Dining in North Adams (413-663-9449) will offer a three-course meal off the regular menu for $35. Eleven in North Adams (413-662-2004) will offer a three-course meal off the regular menu for $38. Gramercy Bistro (413-663-5300) in North Adams will offer a three course meal off a special menu for $25. Mezze in Williamstown will offer a three-course meal off the regular menu for $62. Milan@55 Main in North Adams (413-664-9955) will offer a five-course meal off a special menu for $50. All prices are per person.

Sugaring Off: The Maple Sugar Paintings of Eastman Johnson reunites a series of paintings by Eastman Johnson representing maple-sugar-making traditions in New England. Known in his day as "the American Rembrandt," Johnson (1824-1906) is one of the most important American painters of the 19th century. At the time of the Civil War, Johnson created a series of oil sketches depicting the charm of Yankee life-kettle tenders, storytellers, children with sleds, and woodcutters-culminating in large oil sketches of the "sugaring off" party. Fifteen of the best of these works will be featured in the exhibition, along with a video about maple sugar making past and present, and a selection of period maple pitchers. Organized by the Clark Art Institute, Sugaring Off will be on view at the Clark January 18 through April 18 and will later travel to the Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens in San Marino.

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5p.m. Gallery admission is free through June 26, 2004. For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.

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