Published on August 20th, 2019 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


Experience an Evening of Serious Whimsy at the Columbia Museum of Art

Both exhibitions have sparked wonder and joy in visitors.

Party celebrates closing weekend of exhibitions Wow Pop Bliss and Ordinary Sagas

Columbia, S.C. – The Columbia Museum of Art presents An Evening of Serious Whimsy on Friday, September 6. Held largely on Boyd Plaza, the party celebrates closing weekend of the absurdly fun summer exhibitions Mimi Kato: Ordinary Sagas and Wow Pop Bliss: Jimmy Kuehnle’s Inflatable Art, on view through Sunday, September 8. Both exhibitions have been wildly popular with visitors.

The evening features original, playful contemporary classical music inspired by the art of Kato and Kuehnle. Attendees can also party in the Keuhnle-inspired dance bubble; Instagram their experience in a Kato-inspired immersive photo backdrop with props and fashion help from O.P.T. Collective; sip on beer, wine, or sake from a cash bar; and nosh on food available for purchase from Fleur de Licious.

In the 8:00 p.m. concert, musicians from USC’s School of Music perform works that explore new and fresh ways of merging music with visual inspiration. Known for their work with Spark Collective, the musicians include bassoonist Avery Dabe, soprano Hannah Thompson, flutist Sabrina Raber, pianist/accordionist/composer Grace Shepard, pianist/composer Peter Underhill, and percussionist Ben Haimann. The program includes:

Jacob Wylie (b. 1994): Inflatable Sagas
Erik Satie (1866 – 1925): La belle excentrique
Grace Shephard (b. 1994): Women’s Work
Nathan Daughtrey (b. 1975): Azul
Peter Underhill (b. 1995): The Flowers of Reminding
Jacob ter (b. 1951): Night (from Night & Day) Veldhius
Grace Shephard (b. 1994): Caged Cipher
In Ordinary Sagas, Mimi Kato draws on the rich history and visual traditions of Japanese culture as well as the absurd everyday elements of contemporary life and merges them in imaginary landscapes. In her lengthy artistic process, Kato photographs herself as a range of costumed characters — from everyday Japanese citizens to fantastical creatures in the forest — and embeds these images into large photomontages. Her work is narratively complex and darkly humorous.

“Ordinary Sagas is a colorful fantasy world where different, somewhat familiar dramas unfold, occasionally with the help of sharp pointy objects,” says Kato. “I want visitors to spend time in the galleries with the narratives that my work offers.”

Jimmy Kuehnle is a performance and sculpture-based artist who creates large-scale, high-tech inflatables that expand our notions of abstract art. In Wow Pop Bliss, Kuehnle fills four galleries with touchable, interactive environments using inflatables that combine, sound, light, space, and texture to create unexpected experiences for visitors as they move under, through, and around these works.

“I want visitors to experience real delight and joy,” he says. “I want them to forget where they are and what they were doing just a moment ago and experience light, sensation, space, and interaction. I want them to bump into strangers as they navigate a labyrinth with blinking LEDs, listen to sounds on loops while watching LED animations, feel the vibration of subwoofers on the fabric. I want them to enjoy the moment and enjoy the human community of others that surrounds them in something that is not necessary for survival, art, but makes survival hopefully more enjoyable.”

$5 / free for members.

This project is supported by a grant from the Knight Foundation Fund and by a Connected Communities grant at Central Carolina Community Foundation.

For more information, visit

About the CMA
The Columbia Museum of Art is a charitable nonprofit organization dedicated to lifelong learning and community enrichment for all. Located in the heart of downtown Columbia, S.C., the CMA ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and creative educational programs. At the heart of the CMA and its programs is its collection, which encompasses 7,000 works and spans 5,000 years of art history. Established in 1950, the CMA now welcomes more than 150,000 visitors annually and is a catalyst for community creativity and education, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds. It is the recipient of a National Medal from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a National Art Education Association award for its contributions to arts education, a National Park Foundation Award, and two Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Awards for the Arts for outstanding contributions to the arts in South Carolina. In order to serve even more audiences, the CMA recently underwent a transformation. Funded by a successful capital campaign, the two-year renovation project garnered new collection galleries with a progressive thematic layout, new studios for artmaking, cutting-edge program and event spaces, an entrance on Main Street, and a revamped CMA shop. Overall, more than 20,000 square feet of functional space were added to the building’s existing footprint. To learn more, visit

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