Tonight, visitors can experience the Mississippi Museum of Art's "When Modern Was Contemporary" exhibit with the Party of the (Mid) Century benefit at 7 p.m., which leads way to Midnight Modern at 11:30 p.m.
The mid-century party, which is black and white formal attire (masks are encouraged), features a curated dinner, a live theater performance from New Stage Theatre, music and cocktails. Midnight Modern will have special exhibition tours, midnight snacks and more. But it will also feature something else … body painting from Art in Flesh.
Art in Flesh is the brainchild of artist Robeka Steam. The Boynton Beach, Fla., native says she started doing special-effects makeup after graduating from the Tom Savini's special-effects makeup program at the Douglas Education Center in Pennsylvania in 2004. Ever since a photographer commissioned her for body painting in 2007, she says she's done everything from children's parties to club events to college-campus meet and greets. She moved to Little Rock, Ark. in 2014, and then to Jackson in 2015.
She started doing her work under the name Art in Flesh around 2011. For it, she collaborates with other artists on body-paint designs. They have done many designs such as cyborgs, zombies, a fallen angel, a marble statue, Mother Earth and a frozen Ice Queen, among many other designs.
She says her favorite part of body painting is the fact that the canvas is living and breathing.
"Your canvas interacts with you; they laugh with you; they giggle," she says. "It's more personable. It's fun seeing the transformation. Each time you go into a body paint, it's a challenge, but in a wonderful way. You're constantly pushing yourself to do something different. I'm constantly thinking about different ideas, sketching, looking at reference. I never believe you're too good for reference. I always believe you've got to look at something."
In Jackson, she often works with DJ Rozz on events such as glow parties. She also did body painting for the Zombie Bash JXN Con after party at Hal & Mal's last December, among other events.
At the October 2015 Museum After Hours at the Mississippi Museum of Art, Steam and artists Jensen Jones and Carra Faith Spencer painted pop-art zombies. When she heard about the Midnight Modern, she approached Julian Rankin, the director of marketing and communications at MMA, about painting models like the works in the "When Modern Was Contemporary" exhibit. For the event tonight, she has about 12 to 15 models and is working with people such as Boston, Mass. artist Annie Medrano, Hattiesburg artist Chris Holzinger, Jackson area artist Anna Yoakum and Hattiesburg makeup artist Tori Faith to bring the pieces to life.
Steam says she's most excited about doing a body painting based on the art of Lee Krasner, who was Jackson Pollock's wife. "I really liked her work, and how she went about her process was contemporary and modern art. (It had) a lot of shapes and colors," Steam says. "I thought it would be really fun ...
It's April 7, the first Thursday in April, which means Fondren's First Thursday is tonight.
Among the local vendors who will come out tonight and celebrate (including Jackson Free Press), other events are planned as well. The event begins at 3 p.m. today. At 7 p.m., teams can race down Duling Avenue in the Duling Dash. The teams, which are composed of two to three people wearing their wackiest clothes, have to compete in racing segments that include a shopping-cart push, toilet ride (you read that right) and a crab crawl. The winning team will receive, T-shirts, gift cards and other swag. Entry for the race is free. For teams who didn't get a chance to sign up before FFT, they will have a chance between 5 and 6:30 p.m.
The sixth annual Walk Against Traffick Jackson is also tonight. Those who want to participate can sign up at walkagainsttraffick.org or at FFT itself. The event's proceeds will support The Hard Place Community's work against child sex trafficking. The event is from 5 to 9 p.m. The starting point is in front of Fondren Corner (2906 N. State St.). Participants will walk around Fondren, and the event will consist of about 10 miles. Groups are encourage to have six to 10 walkers with an individual fundraising goal of $100. People can make the donations themselves, or they can ask sponsors to support them for $1 per mile for 10 miles.
The Hustlers will play at Duling Hall from 5 to 8 p.m., and the Patterson Blaylock Photography Gallery will have live music from 5 to 8 p.m., as well as art from Laurin Stennis. The JXN Escape Room will bring a mini escape room to the Pix/Capri Theater from 6 p.m. until.
FFT will also have free DIY T-shirt printing, an outdoor pop-up art gallery, crowd-participation art, a Sneaky Beans dance party, a grand opening of technology start-up incubator Mantle, a Fondren Plaza music festival, a Mississippi Museum of Art pop-up event, a Kidzone, Duling Market, free outdoor yoga, craft beer, cornhole, dogs, food trucks, restaurant specials and other things.
For more information, visit the Fondren's First Thursday Facebook page.