Modern Caribbean Rum

Art shows bring to life the golden age of hip

Updated March 31, 2012

Two art shows on the opposite ends of South Florida offer not only the sights but also a glimpse into the sounds and tastes of a bygone era when style and cool ruled our culture.

These exhibits won’t be around long, however, so catch them now if you can:

Cocktail Culture at the Norton Museum of Art

Tucked into the large ground-floor gallery used for rotating exhibits at the upscale Norton Museum in downtown West Palm Beach is a somewhat unlikely sight. Just one floor below priceless artifacts from ancient China and two floors below the paintings of European masters is a motley assortment of relics of 20th century excess: silver cocktail shakers and champagne buckets, vintage jewelry, and glamorous cocktail dresses and shoes.

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Minimalist Tiki

The highball goes highbrow at Norton Museum exhibit

It’s a good sign that the blossoming interest in mixology and cocktail culture is reaching mass appeal when exhibits pop up at acclaimed art galleries. One such gallery, the Norton Museum in West Palm Beach, is taking a highbrow approach to an intoxicating topic with a fine art exhibit that premieres tomorrow (Dec. 15) and runs through March 11.

Summer Cocktail Party with English Butler, 1961. Watercolor, gouache, ink on paper by Larry Salk.
Summer Cocktail Party with English Butler, 1961. Watercolor, gouache, ink on paper by Larry Salk.

Titled simply Cocktail Culture, it’s one of the first multi-disciplinary exhibitions to explore the social rituals of the cocktail hour through the lens of fashion and design. It features more than 150 objects, including attire, accessories, ads, decorative arts, illustrations, photography and more from the 1920s to the present.

The show is like a travelogue through decades of cocktail history, from the 1920s jazz age to today. Each decade features a different cocktail (the Flapper, the Prohibition, etc.), plus period clothing, objects and accessories. Also included are advertising illustrations and movie clips.

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