MOCA’s stylish happening


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Imagine a tent full of celebrities, artists and art patrons dressed in their designer best -- Eli Broad, Frank Gehry, Jeff Koons, Gwen Stefani and more -- submitting to a cacophony of farm auctioneers calling, cattle ranchers whipping and drummers drumming. This crazy scene was illuminated by a light sculpture by Barbara Bestor that seemed to mimic the Southern California highways, and set to the folk music stylings of Beck, Devendra Banhart and Caetano Velosa. And it was amazing!

Saturday’s gala fundraiser, ‘The Artist’s Museum Happening,’ at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles was an art piece itself, a ‘happening’ conceived by artist Doug Aitken. The evening was his meditation on the West brought to life in every sense, from poster art on the tent walls by John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha and other local artists, to yummy farm-to-table food by Venice-based AXE restaurant chef Joanna Moore. At every seat was a book titled ‘The Idea of the West,’ a culmination of 1000 interviews during which Aitken asked people to answer the question: ‘What is your idea of the West?’


There are responses from the famous, such as Rodarte fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, who said, ‘People are cowboys here,’ and the not-so-famous, such as Jenni (no last name given), unemployed, who said, ‘I get to be crazy.’ (The photo book-meets-zine is available for purchase for $69.95 at the MOCA museum store.)

The evening was sponsored by Chanel Fine jewelry, which supplied the Hollywood glamour quotient for this happening amid the cowboys and gospel singers (almost forgot about them).

Naturally, there were lots of lovelies dressed by the house, demonstrating the range of Chanel style. We saw everything from Chloe Sevigny playing the gamine in an adorable white jumpsuit to Kate Bosworth playing the screen siren in a black gown with cap sleeves, and a pair of diamond feather-shaped earrings from the Plumes de Chanel collection.

I sat across from Ginnifer Goodwin, who looked terrific in a black lace dress with an embroidered pearl collar, and a ‘Secret Camelia’ watch with a diamond-encrusted camelia flower that flipped open to reveal the time. ‘I don’t want to give it back,’ she said, like Cinderella trying to forestall midnight.

Also at the Chanel table: Priscilla Presley, Liz Goldwyn, Kirsten Dunst and Rachel Bilson. Not in the Chanel camp, Dasha Zhukova looked gorgeous in a white Rodarte dress, as did Rose McGowan in a teal Issa gown. Check out a gallery of red carpet looks here.

I also spotted L.A. designer Monique Lhuillier, who shared that she is hard at work on her own home furniture and accessories line that is to debut next year.

‘L.A. now feels like the most exciting place in world for contemporary art,’ MOCA director Jeffrey Dietch told the crowd. ‘ He described the evening as a ‘cultural ambush.’

Here, here.

-- Booth Moore

Photo (from top): Brazilian musician Caetano Veloso, Devendra Banhart and Beck perform at the annual gala for the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles on Nov. 13, 2010. Credit: Danny Moloshok / Reuters