Scene & Heard: Salon by the Shore

At the first Salon by the Shore to benefit the Museum of Contemporary Art, museum director Jeffrey Deitch introduced internationally recognized artist Doug Aitken and offered some explanations for L.A.'s ability to create so many great artists. Among other considerations, he named the landscape, climate and intellectual foundation of the city.

"We're so lucky to have all this," said event co-chairwoman Lilly Tartikoff Karatz. "At one end of the city we have a great contemporary art museum and then, at the other end, we have the

Pacific Ocean

. The idea of the salons was to connect these two of L.A.'s extraordinary attractions."

The "Conversation With Doug Aitken" took place last Sunday on a beachfront bluff at the Malibu home of Nancy and Howard Marks, as part of a brunch series, which showcases art and architecture through informal talks with artists in the private homes of L.A. cultural leaders and art collectors. Nancy Marks served as an event co-chairwoman; Howard Marks is chairman of Oaktree Capital Management.

Before the talk, the group of 75 sampled a brunch buffet, toured the house and mingled on the patio, enjoying the end-of-summer sunshine. They included David Johnson, co-chairman of MOCA's board, Sela Ward and her husband, Howard Sherman; art gallery owners Shaun Regen and Doug Chrismas, Kathi and Gary Cypres,

Richard Riordan

, Carolyn Powers, Lauren King, Shamim Momin, Lisa Schiff and Dominique Shelton.

As the artist designing MOCA's annual shindig — the "Artist's Museum Happening" on Nov. 13 — Aitken was quick to correct anyone using the word "gala" to describe the event. "It's a happening, an intervention," he said. "I want to sabotage the tradition of a gala and orchestrate a moment in time — to get back to what the core of the museum is about, to promote progressive thought and experience."

As guests gathered for the program, Tartikoff Karatz introduced Deitch, noting the importance many in the art world have ascribed to his westward move. "Now he belongs to us," she said, "and we're not giving him back."

Salons will continue with artists Urs Fischer and Richard Prince at the Malibu homes of Peter Morton and Edye and

Eli Broad