The Halsey Institute’s fifth annual Membership Event felt a lot like what we imagine heaven feels like: bright white lights, walls covered in what looked like stained glass, and crowded with people who seemed confused, wondering how they’d gotten there. If Friday’s after-life preview stands true, there will be wide food spreads, free wine, and no option of acoat check. 

For me, a Charleston artist’s single print set the tone. Colin Quashie, whose “wry, ironic, and irreverent art” shoved the night full-force into an unavoidable religious epiphany, opened my eyes to a thematic stage of Holy City delight. Quashie is one of many “Hall of Patron Prints” creators. These featured artists have had shows at the Halsey throughout the years, and in remembrance, they donate a special print with a Halsey focus when they leave. Quashie contributed a print of the fictional magazine CQ, featuring a bearded man on the cover with the headline, “Can the Lord Jesus Christ Be Gay?”

The patrons of the Halsey event were somewhere between heaven and hell, drinking wine and dancing to the percussion of the steamy Cuban Garage Band. Some guests even resembled works of art themselves. Dancer Beth Coiner portrayed a drunken Cuban gentleman, in a wide-brimmed white hat and black ensemble. Romantic couples took their turns on the full-sized Halsey signature moon backdrop, doing their best to make it into the celestial sphere. What can I say? I suppose attendees touched the heavens upon entrance, whether they expected such a journey or not.