Harry Potter Tribute Exhibition

Christine Hsieh/Photography Intern

The Nucleus Gallery, of number 210, East Main Street in the city of Alhambra, is proud  to present the very special Harry Potter Tribute Exhibition, which is featuring more than 100 tributary artworks from more than 50 artists until Aug. 1. Such an event could not have been any more timely. After the release of the final “Harry Potter” film, fans are searching for as many ways as possible to express their fervor for the series.

Hundreds of Potter enthusiasts stood for a minimum of two hours in a line that wrapped around the entire block and snaked through the nearby lot reserved with a sign that said “Muggle Parking Only,” on the evening of its opening reception on July 9.

As I waited with a few of my fellow Potter-loving pals, just looking at the people standing in line with us was already quite an entertaining sight to see. Many attendees dressed up for the occasion in interesting costumes that ranged from Hogwarts students to Golden Snitches to Death Eaters.

Nonetheless, the ridiculous wait did not deter the dedicated crowd from wanting to get inside the tiny two-story gallery that was already packed with attendees, only to have even more attendees trickling in every 15 to 20 minutes. But everyone waiting to get in remained polite, and event staff members were upbeat and kept the crowd reassured that everyone would be able to see the exhibit (at least until 11 p.m.). The opening reception had enough special features for the evening that would entice any Potter fan and keep them waiting in line.

Before entering, each guest received a raffle ticket, was branded with a Dark Mark stamp on their wrist, and was able to pick out from a pile of free buttons that had clever phrases having to do with the four Houses of Hogwarts. Admission was free for those who appeared in costume or if they previously mentioned the event on Facebook or Twitter before July 2. As for everyone else who simply chose to wear “Muggle” clothes and didn’t post anything about the event online, the entrance fee was just a mere $2.

The first to greet you upon entering the gallery was stuffy air and lots of noise (as expected), and shelves of pricey artsy merchandise. But the lack of walking space was manageable and wasn’t disruptive to any of the attention-grabbing features occurring throughout the evening: an hourly raffle for prizes every Potter fan would desire, a trivia contest, a costume competition and free complimentary butterbeers (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic)  Ń just to name a few.

Then, of course, there was the artwork. The clean white walls on both floors of the high-ceilinged gallery showed off each work with the contrasting individual styles of each artist. It was a bit difficult picking a favorite as each piece had a suitably whimsical charm of its own; not to mention that particular works were recently auctioned for online.

On one wall, one can find oil paintings of a caricatured Albus Dumbledore and Minerva McGonagall, or storybook-like 3-D cutouts of the Owlery, the Shrieking Shack or Harry casting his stag-formed Patronus spell in the Forbidden Forest. The opposite wall included abstract brushstroke paintings of Luna Lovegood and Ginny Weasley, as well as adorable watercolor sketches of Hagrid and the main trio, among many more pieces of a similar medium. In the dead center of the first floor, a crowd of people circled around a giant half-bodied statue of Lord Voldemort towering overhead. Grimacing fiercely and pointing his wand outward and above the crowd, with his other hand clawing upward, it’s almost as if the statue was demanding everyone’s attention.

In addition to admiring the unique art, attendees were allowed to take part in a “Snitch Seeking” contest, which required participants to be locked inside a glass case with a built-in overhead fan and then try to capture “the Snitch” (which were really miscellaneous gift certificates and what not) as random paper debris flew around them for 30 seconds. Close by, guests were also able to have their picture taken with a Death Eater as the backdrop, along with costume props provided on a table. All this was just on the first floor of the gallery.

Upstairs on the second floor is where the refreshments were served, though maneuvering through various witch and wizard hats and flowing cloaks was required in order to walk up the stairs. If feasting on free butterbeer and mystery-flavored Bertie Botts jellybeans was not enough, one was still able to feast their eyes on more artwork that filled the space.

Miniature dark, delicate sculptures of Thestrals and a Dementor loomed overhead in one corner while pop-up cards of the Hogwarts castle were encased in glass right below. More works by artists featured on the first floor were also found here. If you looked at enough art for the evening, there was always room to socialize with others, and a wide window to peer through to gaze at the evening’s hustle-and-bustle below on the first floor.

Although my friends and I spent more time waiting in line than inside the gallery, having the chance to experience the opening night for this special Harry Potter Tribute Exhibition was rather memorable and, well, simply enjoyable. Going through two floors of Harry Potter-themed art and socializing with fellow Potter enthusiasts while sipping butterbeers, it was a Saturday evening spent in good company.