Get enlightened at Kimball Jenkins’s Art of the House Party

During the Art of the House Party event at Kimball Jenkins, the exhibit "Dressed to Draw" will be on display, featuring custom party dresses and drawings by High Season Artists. Courtesy of Kimball Jenkins
Ann Saunderson works on a dress as part of the Dressed to Draw exhibit at Kimball Jenkins last week.  TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff
Ann Saunderson works on a dress as part of the Dressed to Draw exhibit at Kimball Jenkins last week. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff
All Together Now, by High Season Artists. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff
All Together Now, by High Season Artists. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff
Ladder of Years, by Mary Straub. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff
Ladder of Years, by Mary Straub. TIM GOODWIN / Insider staff

We’re a couple of pretty casual guys here at the Insider. For us, a house party consists of another guy coming over to have a few beers and watch a game, maybe over a slice of pizza.

But some people – and businesses – take house parties to a whole other level, and the Kimball Jenkins Estate is exactly one of those kinds of businesses.

On Sept. 21, Kimball Jenkins will host “The Art of the House Party,” an evening event that celebrates the Kimball Jenkins legacy of style.

Allow us to set the scene of the night a little bit:

Imagine spending an evening with friends celebrating the architecture, history and style of one of Concord’s most stylish homes. You sip your favorite beverage as you mingle with artists who have created an exhibit of mansion-inspired artwork, including party dress sculptures, oversized charcoal drawings and teapots that play with history.

Are you intrigued yet? What if we told you O Steaks & Seafood was going to have a five-course gourmet dinner intended to pair with High Season Artists’ latest exhibit, “Dressed to Draw,” prepared for all attendees?

We had a feeling that’d grab your attention.

Five luscious courses, crafted especially for the space and art exhibit by Chef Chris Roscoe of O’s and cooked to perfection in the converted carriage house, will be served during the event. The meal will end with a satisfying dessert – and one last glance around the mansion that six generations of prominent Concord residents have called home.

While the dinner may be what grabs your attention, don’t sleep on the exhibit, which is really the main reason for the event – after all, this is an art school and gallery.

“Dressed to Draw” has been created over the course of the past few years by the group High Season Artists. Their aim is to throw a party for the house and show off its many splendors, including the famous attic, staircase and four extravagant parlor rooms.

The artwork and party dress sculptures explore what a great house and house party are all about – we’re not sure, but we doubt sports on TV will be mentioned.

The theme for this event goes way back to the very beginning of the Kimball Jenkins story.

Carolyn Jenkins, daughter of Louise Kimball and Walter Jenkins, the namesakes of the mansion, was passionate about art and specifically the performing arts. She also loved fashion and costume design, so the exhibit – and the entire Art of the House Party event – is an homage to that spirit.

“It focuses on what the house used to be like when people lived here, imagining what this house used to be like,” said Rachel Young, business manager at Kimball Jenkins, referring to the exhibit “Dressed to Draw.”

The exhibit is the work of High Season Artists, a “group of us who have been drawing and doing artwork at Kimball Jenkins,” said Ann Saunderson of High Season Artists.

“We’ve been working for several years,” Saunderson said. “We started out with this idea just a couple days before Halloween of having a party at Kimball Jenkins and celebrating Kimball Jenkins since they’ve been so good to us. We would make party dresses. We made an enormous list and each picked one.”

And so the wheels started turning, seams started being sewn, charcoal sticks were worn down to nothing.

“We each made something,” Saunderson said. “Then we’ve been doing a lot of drawing around the mansion. We had a mannequin and put a tutu on her and moved her around the grounds, and we did a lot of drawings of her inside and outside. We also included a few small paintings, but it’s mostly these 18-by-24 drawings of the mansion.”

The evening will provide you with the opportunity to browse all of these things and also speak to the artists themselves – six in total – to find out what went into making each piece and where the ideas came from.

The dresses are likely to draw a lot of attention, as each one has its own theme.

“One of the dresses is a surprise party dress,” Saunderson said. “It has all these pockets, and when you unsnap the pockets there’s a surprise inside. There’s another dress that’s a garden party dress, so it has all kinds of fruits and vegetables on it. My dress is a house party dress because my husband and I were in the process of building a new house (at the time). One is a hen party, but it isn’t a dress, it’s just a wall piece. So it’s those kinds of things.”

Sounds like there will be a lot more stuff going on at this house party than any that we’ve ever thrown before.

Now for some of the nitty-gritty details.

The event will take place Sept. 21 at the Kimball Jenkins Estate, with hors d’oeuvres served at 6 p.m. followed by dinner at 7. Tickets are $75. Seating is limited – the last mansion dinner sold out fast, so reserve your tickets right away if you want a spot. For tickets and event information, call 225-3932, go to or find the event on Facebook.

You can also make it a “Concord Arts Night Out” if you want by catching the 20th annual Outdoor Sculpture and New Painting Exhibits at Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Garden before dinner.

The artists’ reception for the new indoor exhibit will be from 5 to 7 p.m. – but don’t be late for the hors d’oeuvres!

The exhibit “Dressed to Draw” will be on display through Oct. 3.

Author: Jon Bodell

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