The Contemporaries Midsummer Bash on July 13 began with a private viewing of “O’Keeffe, Stettheimer, Torr, Zorach: Women Modernists in New York,” the new exhibit at the Portland Museum of Art, lead by PMA Director Mark Bessire.

“The exhibition is organized by the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, Florida,” explained Lauren Silverson, director of registration and collections at the museum, as guests began to gather outside in the museum’s Joan B. Burns Garden for the early evening soirée.

“It features four women artists who were active from 1910 to 1940, working in a modernist style. They were really cutting edge for their time. All had connections to New York, and all showed in New York,” she said.

As the Maine Marimba Ensemble kicked into high gear, the garden party got under way. White chandeliers hung from trees, blue toile was draped around tent poles and drinks and food flowed freely. Brown bags full of savory tidbits from Figgy’s Takeout, a colorful assortment of cool treats from Gelato Fiasco and passed hors d’oeuvres from Aurora Provisions complemented the hosted beer and wine bar.

“It’s wonderful to have so many Contemporaries members come out this evening to see the exhibit and enjoy the sculpture garden,” said Kelly McCormack, stewardship and research coordinator at the museum, who attended with Dee Dee Germain of South Portland.

Embracing the sultry summer evening, partygoers wore shades of white. Dresses, summer suits and straw hats were de rigueur.

“It’s nice to see everybody out and dressed fancy,” said Portland resident Chandra Leister, who attended with friends Elizabeth Hunt of Falmouth and Dawn Tully of Portland. “I like it when people dress up in Portland.”

Liz Cartland, the museum’s director of development, chatted with Liz Berle of Berle Designs and Kate Anderson of Windham. Soo Parkhurst of O & P Glass was joined by Shawn McLaughlin of Cellardoor Winery and Miranda Jordan of Portland. Dr. Dot Foote, chief executive officer of Wayfinder Schools, attended with Fred Williams of Old Port Advisors. Jennifer Miller of Portland, Lucia Kearns of Falmouth and Maggie Knowles of Yarmouth also turned out.

“The PMA is changing,” said Graeme Kennedy, the museum’s director of marketing and public relations, while visiting with Aimée Bessire and her daughters, Blakey and Clay. “We’re trying to connect with all different types of people, all different walks of life and all different backgrounds. Art is for everybody and we are working hard to share art with everyone through great groups like this.”

Margaret Logan is a freelance writer who lives in Scarborough. She can be contacted at: [email protected]