The Running Of The Art Lovers

The Santa Monica Museum of Art holds its annual INCOGNITO fund-raiser and starts a new tradition

SMMoA’s first PRECOGNITO gala was simple and lovely. (Simply lovely?) PRECOGNITO is in it’s first year and is a look-see/gala before INCOGNITO, the museum’s annual fund-raiser that lines the walls with works signed on back. For $350 a pop you could walk away with a Baldessari, a Pettibon, a Ruscha or a Moses–but you don’t find who made what you’ve picked until you pay. It’s brilliant. At this spanking new gala, the flowers looked like they had been plucked by hand and arranged in paint cans on the tables. The lamb and veggies prepared by Lene were also a rustic and fresh touch. The tables were covered in white paper, perfect for doodling on with the colored pencils by your plate—which Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen did (think anyone would have bought their artwork?). Any time a camera popped up to snap the wall (who cares about celebs) there were security guards on the spot. They also made sure no one flipped the art over. Once gala-goers like Emmy Rossum and her fella/co-star Tyler Jacob, Benjamin McKenzie, restaurateur Michael McCarty, Perry Reeves (she was very into it), and Mayor Richard Bloom mapped out their strategy for the next night the museum handed out a few awards. Top honors when to Bergamot Station Arts Center founder Wayne S. Blank, art collector Eileen Harris Norton, and artist Paul McCarthy. “I haven’t sat at a table this long since the army in the 60s,” Blank noted. Clap, clap, clap.

But wait, there’s more! The next night at INCOGNITO I arrived just as the throng was gearing up for the sounding bell at 7 p.m. sharp. I spied Perrey Reeves and Eduardo Ponti (Sophia Loren’s son) and directors Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine) in the front ready to move. The bell sounded and they were off. One patron went down hard but was back up in a shot. About half of the paintings had been claimed after the first half hour. Did I mention I think this is a brilliant fund-raiser? The fella who went down slyly mentioned to his pal that he thought she’d given him a push, but had no hard feelings. Both came away with a few works. More Lene vittles and the young, arty crowd milled about into the night.  

SMMoA‘s next exhibit opens this weekend and it’s a good one. I watched Mickalene Thomas putting up her show, Origin of the Universe. Other exhibits opening include: Isa Melsheimer: Vermilion Sands and Other Stories from the Neon West and Park Studio: Complex Element.

Photographs courtesy The Santa Monica Museum of Art, Monica Orozco