Happy (After)Hours

I feel old. More and more, I begin sentences with “I remember when.” But it’s true, I do remember when the After Hours parties at the Walker Art Center, which were begun in 1997, started roughly at happy hour and cost all of $14 ($7 for Walker members). They were monthly, and all the cool kids who couldn’t otherwise be persuaded to pay admission, were there. I decorated a pair of sunglasses with macaroni in the Art Lab and enjoyed the best view in the city with the martini of the month.

And then it got a reputation as a pick-up place. Up went the price and the number of guys sporting large watches and shiny shirts. Finally, it ran its course, a victim of its own success. And then it returned, last year, as a preview party, not monthly but whenever a new show opened. The next one is this Friday, for the opening of “Picasso and American Art.”

It’s sold out, even at $30, and it’s hard to believe the next one (in October for the Frida Kahlo exhibition) won’t be, as well. And that’s great for the Walker. But where’s the next great event like this for young people, young artists, for whom $30 buys a decent amount of paint? First Thursdays in Northeast? What if we want our wallet and our Walker view, too?

Speaking of giving artists what they want, a new gallery is opening Thursday, June 14, closer to where most local artists live. It’s called Mezzolago, and it’s at 5255 Chicago Ave., near the Parkway Theater. Its hook is being open just five days a month, with new art every month, making each showing an event. For tomorrow’s opening party, at 6:30 p.m., some of the city’s hottest artists are showing, including Yuri Arajs and Amy Rice.

Elsewhere, check out Live Action Set’s “Desiderare: Desire the Undesirable” at the Red Eye Theatre, directed by Robert Rosen, who’s been doing terrific, provocative work since leaving Theatre de la Jeune Lune in the big exodus there last year.