The Contemporaries host “Neon Dreams: A Pop Art Affair”

Raising Funds for its Art Acquisition Efforts, the Annual Ball Promises a Night of Artistic Splendor and Social Impact

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The Contemporaries of the Columbia Museum of Art (CMA) will convene hundreds of art enthusiasts at its upcoming, “Neon Dreams: A Pop Art Affair,” happening March 2, 7:00 – 11:00 p.m. The event, presented by Certified SC, promises to be a celebration of artistic expression, social engagement, and philanthropy, all in support of the CMA’s mission to enrich our community through the power of art. More details and tickets are on sale at

“We are thrilled to present ‘Neon Dreams: A Pop Art Affair,’ an event that encapsulates the spirit of artistic innovation and community support,” says Morgan Watson, the Contemporaries gala chair and external relations events manager at the University of South Carolina. “This night is not just about celebrating art; it’s about contributing to the cultural landscape of our city and ensuring its vibrancy for generations to come.”

“Neon Dreams” invites attendees to step into a vibrant world where artistic expression collides. Inspired by iconic artists like Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and the spirit of Robert Indiana, the event promises a night where reality and art collide in a neon-infused dream. The atmosphere will be electrified with a celebration of pop art, where guests are encouraged to slip into their most vibrant attire and let the neon lights guide them through a night of creativity and glamour.

The creative-fashion-meets-black-tie-optional event forecasts more than 300 attendees for a night filled with philanthropy and funky fun. Guests will dance all night to the sound of B Muzick Band and D.J. Preach Jacobs. Event amenities include heavy hors d’oeuvres and a full open bar featuring liquor, beer, and wine.

The menu has been custom made to fit the theme, provided by Southern Way Catering. Experience a Peak Drift biergarten, Smoked SC spritz bar, and unique activation stations from vendors around Columbia, which will enchant, stimulate, and entertain. This will truly be a one-of-a-kind event that will have surprises sure to delight.

The heartbeat of the evening lies in the silent art auction, featuring talents from both local and regional artists. With more than 40 pieces available, from oil, acrylic, and mixed media paintings – to state-of-the-art digital printmaking masterpieces.

Most notably, the auction features major S.C.-based artists like Lara Dann, an artist from Greer whose work has been internationally exhibited and collected. Her artwork demands thousands from galleries from San Francisco to NYC, and her Contemporaries auction piece will have an opening bid of under $700.

There is a debutante at the auction with Columbia-based artist, Victoria Rickards. In December 2023, she exhibited at one of the most prestigious events in the world, Art Basel Miami. Rickards has donated multiple paintings that feature her unique style.

Two prominent Columbia muralists, Shelby LeBlanc and Ija Monet Charles, also feature pieces in the art auction. Ija will paint live during the event with the artwork available for bidding. Every bid and contribution directly supports the Contemporaries’ art acquisition fund, dedicated to acquiring new and compelling pieces for the CMA’s award-winning collection.

Recently, the Contemporaries acquired two new museum acquisitions by Columbia-born artist Rodney McMillian. The CMA is the first museum in the Carolinas to acquire McMillian’s work. The McMillian pieces join a list of the Contemporaries’ acquisitions, including the Chihuly Chandelier, Tartara Fire by Henry Mandell, and Phase by Daniel Rozin — all three of which will be viewable during “Neon Dreams.”

More than just a social gathering, “Neon Dreams” stands as a crucial fundraiser, with proceeds contributing to the growth of the museum’s collection. The event underscores the Contemporaries’ commitment to fostering the arts within our community.

The Contemporaries host art-centered events throughout the year — no art background required! The annual ball is one of its most beloved signature events. The group’s goal is to engage new audiences at the museum through programs and networking opportunities.

All are invited to join the Contemporaries at this event of artistic splendor and social impact. As always, Contemporaries members receive a discounted rate for the organization’s events. Purchase tickets and learn more at

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