Come as you are to ArtMix

I never expected to see someone get tattooed at the Crocker Art Museum. But there it was: Between the mesmerizing snake charmers, fortune tellers and belly dancers on the Crocker’s main stage, people lined up to get new ink by Grass Valley artist Alycia Harr. In the same room, a small, open-mic stage invited the audience to share their own experiences and become part of this night of power and performance.

A slideshow flashed images of old newspaper clippings and photos of the inspiration behind this last Crocker ArtMix party of 2017: the family’s wild child, Aimée Crocker.

Crocker, the daughter of the museum’s founders who was born December 5, 1864, was what the kids today would call “extra”—a badass woman pushing the boundaries of her time. A regular appearance in gossip columns, she was known for her globetrotting, a friendship with Oscar Wilde, scandalous affairs and five (although she claimed 12) marriages, all before Liz Taylor made divorcing cool. She even had a rumored sexual connection with her pet boa constrictor.

Flashy tales aside, Aimée was also socially progressive toward sex, gender norms and race issues of the time. She shared these values in her 1936 memoir with the in-your-face title And I’d Do It Again.

ArtMix: Bohemia served as a 154th birthday party for the rebel Crocker, and her passions were matched by the night’s performances.

Sacramento jazz group Valo Boheme kept the ArtMixers movin’, and UNMATA’s tribal belly dancers were tantalizing as they swayed in unison.

Contortionist Jessica Will approached the main stage wearing her own snake like a scarf while the crowd’s excitement built for her performance. Some folks stood silently in awe and others cheered loudly as she stretched and twisted with the snake wrapped around her body.

Amanda Davidson was among them.

“Seeing all these badass women getting up there to perform—it’s inspiring,” Davidson said. “We’re standing up for who we are. It’s absolutely what we need right now.

Certain Crocker exhibits were open, allowing folks to take a break from the action and find inspiration from a quieter space.

Like many of the themed ArtMix events, guests showed up wearing a range of styles. Some were dressed at the height of early 20th century fashion, while others rocked the came-straight-from-work look. And that may be the best part of every monthly ArtMix: It invites Sacramentans to come as they are. And I think Aimée Crocker would approve of that.