Captain Cooke

London
04.29.08

Left: Claudia Schiffer with producer Rebecca Green. Right: Dealer Stuart Shave with artist Nigel Cooke. (Photos: Lynne Gentle)


Thinking myself terribly clever, I arrived early to the inauguration of Stuart Shave/Modern Art’s new West End gallery last Thursday evening, under the assumption that this would guarantee a leisurely private viewing of Nigel Cooke’s exhibition “New Accursed Art Club.” Imagine my chagrin when, by half past five in the afternoon, the joint was already jumping, and caps were flying off beer bottles faster than rattled gallery staff could ice them down. Clearly, there are a lot of clever people in London. I double-checked my watch as the crowds pushed in.

And what a crowd it was. Artists great and small, glacially groomed international collectors, dealers, curators, family members, and jovial gate-crashers—nobody, but nobody, it seems, doesn’t love Stuart Shave. And everybody, but everybody, was queuing up to buy Cooke’s work. In terms of positive vibes and support, this event was a love-in.

Having been together since the beginning—Cooke has been represented by the gallery since its inception in 1998 and had his first solo show with Modern Art in 2002—it seems fitting that Shave and Cooke should come full circle for the inauguration of this fine new space. Designed by architect David Kohn, the project was a year and a half in the making, but well worth the wait. The venue is an artist’s dream—no period architectural foils to surmount and a great location in London’s burgeoning art epicenter, Fitzrovia. Both Cooke and Shave appeared composed and ready for action, but the pungent, fresh scent of linseed oil and plaster in the air suggested that preparations for the opening went down to the proverbial wire.

Left: Dealer Andrea Rosen with writer and curator Susanna Greeves. (Photo: Lynne Gentle) Right: Frances Morris, curator of permanent collections at Tate Modern, and art critic Louisa Buck. (Photo: Gareth Harris)


And the people kept coming. The show was going up in a blaze of glory, and those with vested interests stayed prudently close. Cooke’s New York dealer, Andrea Rosen, was on hand to lend support, seldom straying more than ten feet from the show’s jaw-dropping centerpiece, the eponymous New Accursed Art Club, 2008. Rosen held forth with London counterpart Sadie Coles; if only latecomer Maureen Paley had arrived sooner, the formidable trio could have held an impromptu power summit.

Tate Modern curators Stuart Comer and Frances Morris mingled with Frieze honcho Matthew Slotover, while myriad artists stood chatting amiably in clusters. My own conversation with artist Tim Stoner was unceremoniously interrupted by the hoo-ha accompanying the arrival of Claudia Schiffer. Watching impressed people ogle celebrities while trying to look unimpressed is always a chuckle, and watching them trying to “pap” Schiffer with their camera phones, while pretending to make a phone call, was even better.

The convivial bonhomie continued on at the afterparty held at art-world watering hole St. John. Critters predictably ruled the evening’s menu: skewered baby birds and pink Lord of the Flies–like piglets reposed on trays—the latter bunned-up and passed alongside platters of whole, unpeeled vegetables. As a southerner, I’m used to an “everything but the squeal” dining ethos, but several squeamish guests, having looked their dinner in the eye, decided to pass on much of the main fare—though the fish and chips were delicious.

Left: Artist Tom Burr, Tate Modern curator Stuart Comer, and writer Alice Rawsthorn. Right: Nigel Cooke. (Photos: Lynne Gentle)


Jane and Louise Wilson (looking less twinlike with each passing year) strode in and made a beeline for the food. “Where’s the grub? I’m bloody starving,” declared Jane in her broad Geordie accent. Filling me in on their forthcoming film short for Film Four, she explained that not only does their mother babysit on demand, but she typed up their film script as well.

As the evening wound down, Shave and Cooke showed signs of blissed-out battle fatigue, lurching arm in arm from the building like an old married couple celebrating their silver anniversary. If Thursday night was an indicator of the future, the charmed pair will be dancing the samba at their golden.

Lynne Gentle

Pieces of April

New York
04.27.08

Left: Issue Project Room founder Suzanne Fiol with Steve Buscemi. (Photo: Linda Yablonsky) Right: Collector Beth Rudin DeWoody with Hunkmania performers. (Photo: Neil Rasmus/Patrick McMullan)


April may be the cruelest month for mixing memory with desire, as T. S. Eliot had it, but living in London he may not have realized what a fine time it is to be in New York—especially if you like showmanship. Take last week, which began for me in top form on Monday night, when vocalist Adam Dugas and harpist Mia Theodoratus gave an invitation-only recital in the faux-baronial (i.e., Julian Schnabel–designed) environs of the Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Before a flickering hearth, and dressed in white tie and tails, the ultrasuave Dugas (familiar to some as the creator of the “Chaos and Candy” holiday show at the Box) put his pipes in the unexpectedly subversive service of a half-dozen musical numbers dating from the sixteenth century to the present.

The set went over big with the equally well-turned-out audience, which included Justin Bond (of Kiki and Herb), the Wooster Group’s Kate Valk and Casey Spooner (also half of Fischerspooner), architect Charles Renfro, and former New York City Ballet dancer Ryan Kelly and his partner in the Moving Theater, Brennan Gerard (currently in residence at the Park Avenue Armory). Much of the evening’s fun was in apprehending what tunes we were actually hearing in Theodoratus’s arrangements, which sounded at first like vaguely familiar madrigals, show tunes, and romantic ballads. As it turned out, they were actually hit pop songs by Radiohead, Britney Spears, Gnarls Barkley, and Donna Summer (“I Feel Love,” in French), though barely recognizable as such. By the time Adam and Mia, as they were billed, performed Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for their finale, they had created a whole new genre of Name That Tune cabaret.

Left: Andrea Glimcher, artist Alex Katz, and Art Production Fund's Yvonne Force Villareal. (Photo: Neil Rasmus/Patrick McMullan) Right: Musician Casey Spooner. (Photo: Linda Yablonsky)


I may have started the week on the top shelf, but, this being New York, there was nowhere to go but up. Tuesday brought me to another intimate and rousing evening, this one in Henry Richardson and Sarah Stranahan’s Upper West Side apartment, where actor Steve Buscemi and artist Robert Longo had gathered friends and supporters of Issue Project Room, the adventurous music and performance space that began on the Lower East Side five years ago and has left it—like so many of the artists, writers, and musicians the venue hosts—for the outer reaches of Brooklyn. (At the moment, it resides in the Old American Can Factory, near the Gowanus Canal.) Spunky founder and director Suzanne Fiol used the occasion, which featured solo turns by Elliott Sharp and Emily Manzo (on guitar and piano, respectively) and a completely hilarious reading by Jonathan Lethem, to launch a two-million-dollar fund-raising campaign. The sum is what Fiol needs in order to open the doors of Issue’s new downtown Brooklyn headquarters at 110 Livingston Street, a glorious McKim, Mead, and White building that formerly housed the Board of Education offices and that the city agreed to sell to (what else?) a luxury-development company, as long as it gave the ground floor to an arts organization. Issue won the spot.

As Buscemi and Longo both noted, New York has very few public venues remaining for performers to experiment and grow, the way each of them did in the 1970s and ’80s (at places like Club 57 and the original Kitchen in SoHo). “I wish I was more like the characters I play in movies,” Buscemi admitted. “So I could rob banks and give all the money to Issue Project Room.”

The Creative Time benefit on Wednesday night made me wonder whether a robbery might just be the ticket. The capacity crowd of five hundred art-worlders who filled Guastavino’s, the white-tiled Terence Conran party palace beneath the Queensboro Bridge, brought the thirty-four-year-old public-art organization some $1.1 million—a bonanza, of course, yet just half of what the nascent Issue Project Room needs. All the same, as one guest observed, “Who said art benefits couldn’t be fun?” This one was unforgettable, and not just because the Creative Time goody bag—a roomy white-leather carry-on by Matt Murphy (producer of White Columns’s cool canvas totes as well)—was genuinely good but also because the event doubled as a birthday party for the irrepressible collector and philanthropist Beth Rudin DeWoody.

Left: Artists Adam Dugas and Mia Theodoratus. (Photo: Linda Yablonsky) Right: Collector Jane Holzer. (Photo: Neil Rasmus/Patrick McMullan)


DeWoody’s son, Carlton, and his lifelong pal Ariel Schulman (of Supermarché) started the evening off in high-flying spirits with a bouncy video set to the tune of the Beatles song “All You Need Is Love”—swapping “love” out for “Beth.” Indeed! In a surprise performance, introduced by Broadway musical director Susan Stroman, DeWoody came onstage dressed in a hobo costume with former hoofer Frederick Anderson and did the famous “We're a Couple of Swells” soft-shoe that Judy Garland and Fred Astaire did in Easter Parade.

I don’t know how many collectors with no song or dance training would be brave enough to do such a thing in public, but DeWoody absolutely pulled it off, clearly astonishing fellow patrons like Melva Bucksbaum and Raymond Learsy, John and Amy Phelan, Catherine Orentreich, Dana Farouki, and the entire Rudin family, as well as artists Mariko Mori, Donald Baechler, Alex Katz, Marilyn Minter, Rob Wynne, and about forty others who contributed to the silent auction. As DeWoody later told Creative Time director Anne Pasternak, there aren’t many arts organizations or institutions that would let her perform at a benefit.

But there was an even bigger surprise in store, this one for DeWoody, when she rose from her bows to be surrounded by thirteen male strippers from Hunkmania. People who had begun leaving the dinner stopped in their tracks as the well-choreographed hunks stripped to their shorts, on which were sewn letters that, when the men lined up for DeWoody’s inspection, spelled out CREATIVE TIME. Long after she came offstage, she still looked stunned. “I'm having post–stage fright,” she said, as guests around her madly scrambled for the gift boxes that waiters were carrying on silver trays. One box, it was rumored, contained a ticket for the bearer to receive a Cartier watch. Yet, perhaps playing it cool, the lucky guest didn't step up to claim their prize. Didn’t matter. In the art world, where illusion is king, everyone is a winner.

Linda Yablonsky

Left: Creative Time's Anne Pasternak and Salon 94's Jeanne Greenberg-Rohatyn. Right: MoMA curator Klaus Biesenbach.


Hollywood and Rhine

Cologne
04.24.08

Left: Dealer Gisela Capitain. RIght: “Open Space” curators Meyer Voggenreiter and Kathrin Luz with dealer Daniel Hug. (All photos: Saskia Draxler)


Given that Art Cologne, founded in 1967 as the world’s first contemporary art fair, was, due to lack of interest from international dealers and collectors, more or less declared dead two months ago, it was a welcome surprise last weekend to find the city on the Rhine living up to its avant-garde reputation. The week’s first event to properly mix jet-setters with laid-back Rhineland bourgeoisie was a ceremony the Monday before last at the Museum Ludwig honoring Peter Doig, winner of this year’s Wolfgang Hahn Prize. Doig, ever gracious, mentioned in his speech how proud he was to receive the award—despite having never before heard of its existence. The afterparty took place in the city’s famous Wartesaal, formerly the waiting room for Cologne’s train station and the venue (during the 1980s) of a well-known German talk show. Per the artist’s request, guests—among them Phillips de Pury’s Michaela Neumeister, collector Julia Stoschek (sporting a new pageboy haircut), AXA’s Bodo Sartorius, and artists Andreas Gursky and Jonathan Meese—danced to a set comprising nothing but reggae music. Museum Ludwig director Kasper König was joined on the floor by his dealer sons, Leo and Johann.

The next morning, Art Cologne opened its doors for a professional preview. In the past, the ground floor featured contemporary galleries and the upper floor modern dealers. Over the past four years, however, the grounds have become increasingly dominated by “Open Space,” an unconventional area (this year featuring fifty galleries) where booths lack walls, copious seating is available, and the floor is covered by a white velourlike carpet, both strange and beautiful. This unique arrangement was organized by Kathrin Luz and Meyer Voggenreiter, who will be working with Art Cologne’s new director, Daniel Hug, who begins in May. Wandering the space, attendees encountered artist Christian Jankowski playing a television-show moderator who auctions art in front of a patient audience, and Kitty Kraus’s ice sculpture, at Gabriele Senn’s booth, covered in black ink and melting into dark puddles. Young German artist Thomas Schroeren also impressed with his work Teach Me Some Manners at the booth of Berlin dealer Sandra Bürgel. As for the rest, a reduction in the number of galleries from 190 to 151 raised standards of quality, and the mood at the preview was typically buoyant.

Left: Artist Isa Genzken. Right: Dealer Daniel Buchholz.


That evening, the LA dealers Patrick Painter and Javier Peres joined Reiner Opoku, an art consultant and founder of TheArtFund, to open a temporary exhibition called “My Generation” at the spacious postindustrial venue Spichernhöfe, in the Belgian quarter. Directly across the street, collector (and notorious party animal) Sabine DuMont-Schütte hosted a reception in a tiny bar with canapés, wine, and lots of Kölsch. The crowd bounced back and forth between grand, flashy international statement (featuring the art of Liz Craft, Andre Butzer, and Tim Berresheim, among others) and cozy neighborhood get-together.

More LA imports were featured two nights later at the Excelsior, a five-star hotel located across from the Cathedral. There, in the banquet hall, Voggenreiter and Hug presented “Hotel California: Art from Los Angeles,” featuring works by, among others, Kirsten Stoltmann, Sterling Ruby, and H. K. Zamani. The champagne flowed in celebration of this cross-continental axis, and Hug, eager to begin his work resurrecting the fair, toasted all those present.

Saskia Draxler

Upwardly Mobile

Milan
04.22.08

Left: Architect Rem Koolhaas. (Photo: Fondazione Prada) Right: A view of Peter Greenaway's Ultima Cena di Leonardo. (Photo: Luciano Pascali)


“Absolute mayhem” would be an understated way to describe Milan’s Salone del Mobile, which opened last Wednesday to roaring crowds of shoppers and speculators. Though I knew going in that the Salone is the world’s largest furniture fair, being among 350,000 design aficionados is much more intimidating in real life than one would imagine—especially when they’re all packed into the megalithic fairgrounds at Rho. Credit crises may be buckling some bank accounts, but it’s reassuring to know that there’s still a (huge) market open to people in need of that extra-special creative trimming to make their house a home.

Throughout the five-day event, the impeccably dressed, bleary-eyed masses spilled forth into dozens of parties that overlapped nightly in the Zona Tortona, where galleries served champagne in containers designed by Karim Rashid. Elsewhere, Axor played manufacturer to Philippe Starck, the designer with the Midas touch, who presented a line of haute-couture showerheads, and Bisazza showcased two otherworldly installations: Andrée Putman’s checkerboard corridors and a remarkable mosaic-covered life-size jet by Jaime Hayon. The leather wings, marble stairs, and glass cockpit made up for the lack of motor, and it did have brass propellers. The hottest enfant terrible among London’s design companies, Established & Sons, threw a party in an abandoned swimming pool called La Pelota, where a great stack of drawers by Shay Alkalay acted as the centerpiece, and lumber board brought a certain gravitas to the Richard Artschwager–inspired tables by Tate Britain architects Caruso St. John.

Left: Filmmaker Peter Greenaway. (Photo: Luciano Romano) Right: A view of the party for Established & Sons. (Photo: Ilze Godlevskis)


This fantasia of beautiful things did not detract from auteur Peter Greenaway’s multimedia extravaganza, Ultima Cena di Leonardo, which was shown at the Sala delle Cariatidi in Palazzo Reale, one of historic Milan’s most stunning buildings. Splashes of light flitted across a to-scale, high-resolution projected digital image of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. In keeping with its fascist heritage, the typically mercurial Italian government vetoed the use of the original painting just days before, perhaps due to the nature of the projected images, which included Leonardo’s painting of Jesus’s genitalia.

Around the corner, the SaloneUfficio touched on a topic grudgingly familiar to many of us today—the Office as Creative Hub—with Michelangelo Pistoletto’s Art Sign Offices at the Loggia dei Mercanti, once a commercial center in medieval Milan. There, eight structures mapped “the human body at full stretch in mind,” riffing on another of Leonardo’s concepts, the equilibrium between man and universe. Bright orange grid walls sheltered human-powered objects consistent with the fair’s sustainable-energy theme. With slogans like “Third Paradise” and “Love Difference,” Pistoletto also made manifest another of the week’s leitmotifs: eroticism in unlikely places.

Overwhelmed by all the benches balanced against invisible walls and chairs conjoined with unidentifiable organic substances, I savored the opportunity to stand still for a bit while waiting to enter Swarovski's Crystal Palace event in the Zona Tortona on Wednesday night, hosted by Nadja Swarovski. Outside, a battered, flaxen-haired Londoner attempted to control the increasingly edgy queue of two hundred. But once inside, aggression receded as revelers mingled amid the glimmer of chandeliers by deconstructivist architect Zaha Hadid, a mosaic wall by artist Marcel Wanders, and a giant crystal-coated globe by design team Studio Job. That same evening, right next door, Wallpaper* hosted a party featuring work by Thomas Demand and Jeff Koons in a multilevel architectural miasma.

Left: Artist Michelangelo Pistoletto. Right: Armida Armellini; Manlio Armellini, managing director of Salone del Mobile; Rosario Messina, chairman of Salone del Mobile; Letizia Moratti, mayor of Milan; and Vittorio Sgarbi, Milan's councillor for cultural affairs. (Photos: Luciano Pascali)


By Thursday, I was already suffering from overexposure to ingenuity, but the historic unveiling of Rem Koolhaas’s designs for the new Fondazione Prada snapped me out of my stupor. The foundation was established by Miuccia Prada and her husband, Patrizio Bertelli, in 1993, and in 1996, they invited legendary curator and critic Germano Celant to join as artistic director. For their latest construction, Prada and Bertelli commissioned Koolhaas’s Office for Metropolitan Architecture to redesign an old distillery that they own, Largo Isarco, into a space for both contemporary and traditional art.

Speaking on a panel with Celant and Bertelli in one of Largo Isarco’s lofty structures, Koolhaas said his designs involved “abstract transformations of scale,” adding that, in the final space, “we can work with artists on such transformations.” Equally democratic, Celant stressed the importance of putting culture on display and the necessity of integrating curating and architecture. Prada and her providential son Francesco watched quietly from the second row, enjoying the eloquent and businesslike Bertelli, while Vogue’s Hamish Bowles glowered astutely.

The following evening, on the other side of town, Prada’s current Fondazione hosted an opening for twenty-nine-year-old artist Nathalie Djurberg’s exhibition “Turn into Me.” Large sculptural installations featuring trees, houses, and a grotesquely realistic warty potato encased stop-motion films laden with orifices. Stray body parts from a giant woman lay half-encased in the floor, making reference to Djurberg’s earnest passion for Bataille’s “The Solar Anus.” The “death of mutual existence,” as stated in the press release, fueled her project, which found a strangely perfect home at Prada, an institution known more for its discreet ensembles than for any fascination with fecal matter. Some of Djurberg’s earliest advocates, UCLA Hammer director Ann Philbin and curator Ali Subotnick, joined the Serpentine Gallery’s Hans-Ulrich Obrist in admiring the sexually deviant scene. Surveying the work myself, I reflected on the Salone’s creative exuberance and thought I understood Milan’s slow-moving nature a little more—the city needs to conserve every ounce of energy to get through a week like this.

Left: Critic and curator Germano Celant, Rem Koolhaas, and Prada CEO Patrizio Bertelli. Right: Artist Jannis Kounellis. (Photos: Fondazione Prada)


Bomb Squad

New York
04.18.08

Left: Rodney Graham in performance. (Photo: Amy C. Elliott) Right: Mikhail Baryshnikov. (Photo: Chance Yeh/Patrick McMullan)


“It’s benefit season again,” sighed one guest as we hunted for our place cards at Bomb magazine’s gala last Friday. Indeed, said season comes with its own brand of subjects, ranging from the predictable—“My friend just bought a new country house on the North Fork”—to the positively absurd, like the tidbit about the guy who trained his dog to growl every time it hears the words “Mark Morris.” The Morris comment wasn’t a total non sequitur: The venerable choreographer had been enlisted to toast his celebrated colleague, Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the evening’s three honorees. The other two were painter Mary Heilmann and Wooster Group director Elizabeth LeCompte.

Banquet-style tables had been installed in the Bowery Hotel for the occasion. Pink petals abounded. Beneath a heated tent erected over the balcony, early birds surveyed wares at the silent auction: a moody Peter Doig painting starting at $12,500, as well as a much-discussed Joel Shapiro print. Other goodies included Adam Helms’s ink-on-mylar drawing, with its talismanic figures, and a well-composed, enigmatic lithograph by Mamma Andersson.

“I can’t play my standards,” said downtown music maven Marc Ribot, the gala’s DJ. He watched a nearby game of pool while a ’50s jazz number played over the loudspeakers. “Even I wouldn’t want to listen to myself play John Zorn all night,” he explained, adding that his musical inclinations were more suited to “a ’60s whorehouse.” Was he still talking about Zorn?

Left: Artists Marilyn Minter and Mary Heilmann, dealer Tim Nye, and Bomb editor in chief Betsy Sussler. (Photo: Dawn Chan) Right: Choreographer Mark Morris. (Photo: Chance Yeh/Patrick McMullan)


The evening’s joke toasts did their best to live up to our current era’s confessional milieu. Morris’s speech, for instance, opened thus: “Even before Mikhail and I became homosexual lovers, I was familiar with his work.” Minter, saluting Heilmann, remembered those good old days when Heilmann was a surfer and a “smoking babe.” Added Minter: “We were homosexual lovers as well.” Not to be left out, LeCompte followed Casey Spooner’s own toast with the claim: “Casey and I are getting married.”

Over dinner, I discussed some of the more interesting interpretations of Bomb’s name with one of the magazine’s founders, artist Michael McClard, while buyers hurried back to the auction to make their final bids. Dealer faced dean when Anthony Grant and Robert Storr battled over a Nancy Dwyer text piece. Others seemed less enthusiastic: Under another piece, one collector had scratched their name out and scribbled MISTAKE: BUYER’S REMORSE. But regrets and second thoughts aside, everyone went home seemingly heartened by the evening.

Friday’s gala may have been a bit tonier, but Saturday’s Rodney Graham concert certainly didn’t lack production value. Held at the Abrams Art Center, the show, sponsored by nonprofit production organization Public Art Fund, promised the artist-musician’s psych-rock songs and an “amazing Rotary Psycho-Opticon.”

Left: Curator Robert Storr. Right: Ellen LeCompte, director Charlie Ahearn, and Wooster Group director Elizabeth LeCompte. (Photos: Dawn Chan)


Lois, the opening act, got the night off to a rocky start, making a case for the irrelevance of singer-songwriters with acoustic guitars. I was relieved when the curtain rose, revealing, for all to behold, the mysterious Psycho-Opticon: an Op-art backdrop with five circular holes cut to form an imaginary pentagon. Behind the holes whirled a second layer of psychedelia—a pinwheel of stars and stripes.

Much has been made of music-lyric alchemy, that mysterious whole bigger than the sum of its parts. Graham’s got it figured out, that’s for sure: When singing “Just how low / Does your love meter go?” his melody stays unexpectedly high, then takes a last-minute woebegone dip. But it was actually his lyric–Psycho-Opticon pairing that did the most magic. Graham’s doleful quips complemented the contraption’s relentless, mind-melting effects; a terrific tone—wry and dogged—emerged from the mix.

Those who got a behind-the-scenes glimpse postshow discovered that the multistoried whirling backdrop was powered by one Sam Hyatt, “a friend of an intern” who had been instructed to pedal as she felt inspired. As I headed out of the theater for Triple Canopy magazine’s launch party in Brooklyn, I bumped into critics Jerry Saltz and Roberta Smith. Saltz was making his way backstage—he said he wanted to try powering the Psycho-Opticon bike himself. After all, who says the critic no longer drives contemporary art?

Dawn Chan

Left: The Rodney Graham Band. (Photo: Amy C. Elliott) Right: Critics Roberta Smith and Jerry Saltz. (Photo: Dawn Chan)


The L Words

Los Angeles
04.16.08

Left: Lawrence Weiner with hostesses. (Photo: Stefanie Keenan) Right: Artists Catherine Opie and Walead Beshty. (Photo: Glen Helfand)


“I think that line over there is for LA Art Weekend people,” said someone behind me as I stood in queue at the Hammer Museum last Thursday night, waiting for an appearance by Albert Maysles, elder statesman of American cinema verité. I half-expected to see officials sporting LAAW badges, but no such distinguishing markers were apparent. Having thoroughly consulted the itinerary of LAAW events—a compelling list of museum visits, openings, screenings, parties, and the like—I still wasn’t sure what, exactly, the Weekend constituted, other than a way to link disparate art and culture events in Los Angeles. (And some pretty good ones at that.) No choice but to go with the flow, beginning with a brief visit to the well-attended Maysles tribute in the museum’s magenta-hued Billy Wilder Theater. Hammer director Ann Philbin made some initial remarks, noting that she and her staff were starstruck on meeting the Grey Gardens codirector—and they’ve encountered their fair share of Hollywood talent. Maysles received an immediate standing ovation, which he humbly waved away; he seemed more interested in screening some of his portrait films, like an interview with Truman Capote from the early 1960s, material that Philip Seymour Hoffman must have studied before he nailed the writer’s fabulously bitchy drawl.

I squirmed though, recalling that Catherine Opie’s opening at Regen Projects—for a new series of photos of high school football games—would be wrapping up soon. I slipped out of the theater and, making a straight shot down Wilshire, arrived at the gallery in surprisingly good time. The crowd was spilling into the courtyard, beneath an outdoor text work by Lawrence Weiner, whose Whitney- and MoCA–organized survey was slated to open on Saturday at the latter museum’s Geffen Contemporary outpost. The relaxed, celebratory crowd inside the gallery, a mix of artists, collectors, entertainment lawyers, and art students, heated up the space. Whitney curator Donna De Salvo, in town for the MoCA exhibition, was chatting with Barbara Kruger, and there was Philbin, who must have snuck out of her museum even before I did. Opie was typically affectionate and clearly enjoying the attention. I’d seen her recently at a lecture at the San Francisco Art Institute, and she seemed concerned about how she went over. “They loved you,” I assured her—and they had.

Left: Artist Philip Maysles with filmmakers Liz Goldwyn and Albert Maysles. (Photo: LA Art Weekend) Right: Dealer Kim Light and collector Rosette Delug. (Photo: Stefanie Keenan)


Curator Gary Garrels noted that the Hammer had acquired more than one photo from the show. At the subsequent dinner at Dominick’s, 130 adoring guests took over the restaurant, eating family-style. The artist herself sat at a table near a crackling fireplace across from her partner, Julie Burleigh, and next to Shaun Caley Regen, who toasted her heartily.

Friday morning, amid a summery heat wave, I set off for the Weiner preview. By the time I arrived, the public remarks had already been made, and MoCA curator Ann Goldstein and De Salvo were sitting in the reading room happily comparing notes. In the Geffen’s ample space, the exhibition plays like a glorious force of nature—the angled walls form canyons of text, and bits of light stream in from skylights. Weiner ambled contentedly through the galleries, which also include a suitably bohemian companion show: a survey of Allan Kaprow’s Happenings and environments.

That night, Weiner danced beside a swimming pool (with one of his works emblazoned on the bottom) to a funk band at a buffet dinner in his honor at the modernist Beverly Hills home of MoCA trustee Rosette Delug. The clear, balmy night seemed made to order for the event, and the city’s twinkling lights spread out before us.

As with Opie, everyone had good things to say about Delug’s spirited hospitality. Last October, she threw an infamous party for Takashi Murakami, populated with naked Playboy Playmates painted to resemble manga characters; there were two such Playmates on hand for Weiner, only this time they sported painted-on majorette costumes. (Your guess is as good as mine.) The ladies served premium vodka from shot glasses made of ice to a crowd that included Ed Ruscha and his son Eddie, John Baldessari, Raymond Pettibon, and LACMA director Michael Govan. More thematically appropriate party ephemera included red and gray M&Ms printed with Weiner’s name, and yellow cocktail napkins emblazoned with one of his text pieces.

Left: Black Frame's Brian Phillips, Farmlab's Lauren Bon, and REDCAT's Clara Kim. Right: Artist Raymond Pettibon with Russell Ferguson, chair of UCLA Department of Art. (Photos: Glen Helfand)


Guests were free to wander Delug’s art-filled home, but a small, excited crowd formed when someone cracked open a closet to reveal an immaculately arranged collection of designer shoes and bags. “Now this is art,” gushed a besotted attendee sporting a luxury brand or two herself. With equal excitement, artist Mark Bradford informed me that George Soros, the billionaire political philanthropist, was in the house. I wouldn’t recognize the guy if I saw him, but the idea that he was mixing with the crowd added a layer of absurd gravitas to the party. Later, to top it all off, one hearty, fully clothed reveler cannonballed into the pool.

Saturday paired glamour with philanthropy, when REDCAT hooked up with the weekend’s organizers to arrange a visit to Farmlab, the eco-conscious project of self-professed artist and philanthropist Lauren Bon. After a swanky Beverly Hills brunch of mimosas and truffle-oil-drizzled morsels at the Maison Martin Margiela, a group of CalArts supporters, and out-of-towners including David Selig, owner of New York’s eco-friendly restaurant Rice, convened at a compound in a gritty patch of warehouses and empty lots downtown to hear Bon’s convincing pitch on urban farming, water use, and tango dancing. We trekked through the dusty field in hundred-degree heat (parasols and hats provided).

The weather sapped my energy, so I lounged in the shade, then met a friend for dinner before schlepping back to Culver City for a party at Royal/T, a sprawling boutique touted as “LA’s first Japanese-style cosplay café”—which I assume explains the women in maid costumes offering trays of tea sandwiches and chocolates. Sipping on one of the free-flowing watermelon martinis, I couldn’t help but feel refreshed by the positive vibe. If only every art weekend went down this easy.

Left: Visionaire's Cecilia Dean. Right: Collector Lisa Feldman, artist Mitsuhiro Okamoto, and Royal/T owner Susan Hancock. (Photos: LA Art Weekend)