Masked and magnanimous 

True generosity is modest, humble, done without playing to a crowd.

But anonymity isn’t the only reason to hide behind a mask at the Detroit Institute of Arts’ annual Cirque event. The fundraiser is in the grand tradition of an old-time masquerade ball, and is not only a benevolent way to spend your dough, it’s also a marvelous night on the town.

In a joint effort between the DIA and one of Detroit’s oldest art institutions, the Scarab Club, Cirque was created as a fun way to raise much-needed cash for both causes.

“This is really a rebirth of an old Scarab Club tradition,” says James W. Tottis, the DIA’s acting curator of American art. “These things were a big deal in the 1920s, and we are just trying to bring it back to life.”

Celebrating its fourth year, Cirque calls for black tie or costume and includes a champagne reception, strolling dinner and music from DJ Shortround and fabulous D-town diva Thornetta Davis. And for those who like their entertainment with an edge, there will be fire-eating and sword-swallowing presentations by local performance artists. Guests can buy a mask at the event or bring their own. Attendees are encouraged to get creative. “There are always all sorts of wild masks,” Tottis says.

Cirque will also exhibit six local artists in a silent auction. Donating artists are Patricia Hill Burnett, Scott Maggart, Robert Maniscalco, William Murcko, Joe Michael Nuemann and Kevin “Slaw” Stanislawski.


Tickets are $125. Call 313-833-3737 or visit Prepaid reservations are required. There will be an afterglow on the lower level of Oslo, 1456 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-963-0300.

At 7 p.m. to midnight, Saturday, Feb. 26, at the Scarab Club, 217 Farnsworth St., Detroit; 313-831-1250.

Eve Doster is the listings editor for Metro Times. Send comments to


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