KENT—The password was handwritten on the back of the coveted ticket needed for entry and whispered to the person guarding the door.
“KAA 23” whispered the woman in a form-fitting black dress patterned with gold sequins, a Fascinator sprouting a large handful of ostrich feathers from atop her head. On stage, Al Fenton’s Big Band played a Charleston as couples glided onto the dance floor to show off their moves.
The clock in the Kent Community House spun backward to 1923, as the room filled with flappers in short skirts and bobbed hair, escorted by men in white suits with panama hats. All sat sipping the forbidden drinks of the Prohibition era.
The lights dimmed and the band began swinging into the Jazz Age. The female singer crooned songs from the time of Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda, of Gatsby and Daisy, the time of handsome men and beautiful women, when everyone was rich “on Margin” and the local Speakeasy was where the all fun was.
Saturday, Sept. 30,, those lucky enough to know the password slipped back in time for an evening of food, drink and dance ending all too soon, the fringed dresses, feather boas, Ostrich Feathers, rhinestones and pearls have again been carefully packed away until the next time the planets align just so and time starts to spin backwards.
The evening commemorated the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Kent Art Association, which was formed by nine well established artists who knew each other from when they lived in New York City before migrating to Kent: Rex Brasher, Elliot Clark, Floyd Clymer, F. Luis Mora, George Laurence Nelson, Spencer Nichols, Robert Nisbet, Williard Dryden Paddock and Frederick Waugh.
The artists, who originally had summer homes in the community, soon found that the railroads allowed their urban clientele to come to them and formed the KAA to help the growing art community to exhibit their paintings.