Event encourages guests to be the artwork

Gallery combines party with exhibit

It’s that time of year again, when the real world gives way to the surreal, and Baton Rouge Gallery becomes a part of the artscape it exhibits.

It’s the kind of magic created by the costumed revelry at the gallery’s annual Surreal Salon Soiree, set this year for 7 p.m.-11 p.m. Saturday.

The party coincides with the gallery’s “Surreal Salon Six” exhibit, which runs through Jan. 30. The show is a juried national exhibit of pop surrealism artwork.

“This is a chance for everyone not only to see the artwork, but to become a part of it,” says Jason Andreasen, the gallery’s executive director. “It’s the one night when the place becomes an art piece. Costumes are optional, but we ask people to wear them. It’s amazing to see what people come up with.”

The experience starts out as a journey; soiree-goers are greeted by the Elevator Projects at the gallery’s entrance.

Last year, the group constructed a five-room installation inspired by surrealist games, which were a variety of word games used by surrealist artists for the purpose of expanding an unseen singularity into a horizon and beyond.

“This year, they will create a life-sized variation of ‘Candyland,’ the board game,” Andreasen says. “And the artists will be dressed as the characters in the game.”

Another surrealist game will be set up inside the gallery, and the night’s musical entertainment will be the New Orleans band Debauche.

“They like to call themselves the Russian Mafia Band,” Andreasen says. “They play traditional Russian music, and a couple of people recommended them for the soiree. I questioned them at first. Would a band that sings in a language that no one can understand go over in an event like this in south Louisiana?”

The answer was a resounding yes.

“Not only would they go over well, they have a strangeness that’s perfect for the strangeness of this event,” Andreasen says. “They put on a high energy show. They’ll have everyone jumping up and down.”

Debauche will play later in the evening, which will begin with music played by a local DJ.

“We’re also scheduling a food truck to be there,” Andreasen says. “We don’t know which one it will be yet, but we’ll have one there.”

The soiree will be followed by the gallery’s Sundays @ 4 series at 4 p.m. Jan. 26, featuring a talk by Greg Escelente, co-founder of Juxtapoz magazine and juror for “Surreal Salon Six.” The talk is free.