Great Art Is on the Menu During Restaurant Event

A sophisticated crowd that already had heard of love among the ruins and splendor in the grass discovered a new pleasure--pate amid the paintings.

A collection of artworks by 19th- and 20th-Century masters, loaned anonymously by several local collectors, was unveiled at Gustaf Anders restaurant March 7 and will be on display there through Tuesday. Although there was no auction at this fund-raiser, it cannot be questioned that any of the guests would have been delighted to carry home one or more of the canvases colored by Georges Braque, Cezanne, Matisse, Van Gogh, Edouard Vuillard and others.

Fifteen pieces were hung or mounted, including an Edgar Degas bronze, "Dancers Fastening Tights," that prompted one guest to exclaim, "I'll dine with Degas anytime!" Despite the show's labeling as a 19th- and 20th-Century presentation, an untitled etching by Rembrandt was thrown in as a kind of Renaissance seasoning.

About 70 supporters of the La Jolla Museum of Contemporary Art had gathered at the restaurant, and the museum's board of trustees was well-represented; among the latter group, with their spouses, were Donald and Betty Ballman, Carol and Mark Yorston, Sue and Charles Edwards, Susan and Frank Kockritz, and Carolyn and Jack Farris.

La Jolla Museum Benefits

Museum director Hugh Davies and his wife, artist Sally Yard, also were on hand. Asked just what connection a collection of classic artists might be construed to have with the La Jolla museum, Davies said, "These paintings were once contemporary, too." A more direct connection existed, however; the restaurant-sponsored party raised about $10,000 for the museum, which will use the money to help pay for the Stephen Antinochus neon sculpture that decorates the institution's exterior.

Financier and former hamburger magnate Robert O. Peterson, one of Gustaf Anders' principal financial backers, arrived to inspect the show and seemed to enjoy it, but he did not remain for dinner. His apparel was somewhat less formal than that of most guests; having just been released from the hospital after undergoing back surgery, he turned out in a red caftan and slippers, his hospital identification bracelet still fastened to his wrist.

The other guests appeared eager to sample the meal, which, Chef Ulf Anders Strandberg explained, was "a classic menu for a classic show." His partner, Wilhelm Gustaf Magnuson, elaborated further on the dinner's inspiration and theme. "We would have liked to have planned the menu around a painting that had food in it, but since none do, that wasn't possible," he said. "It would have been wonderful if one of the paintings had had a pheasant in it."

As it was, the diners were served a meal of wild mushrooms in pastry, mussel and shrimp bisque, steak bearnaise and a trio of desserts.

Artist Francoise Gilot attended with her husband, Jonas Salk, and among others present were the show's curator, Reesey Shaw; James Bowers, chief of the Scripps Memorial Hospitals Foundation; Dorothy Goodman; Betty and William Hunefeld; Mary and Andrew Kay; Donna and James Askins; Pattie Morris with John Moore; Faye and Richard Russell; Judy Blick; Sally and John Thornton; Judi and Randy Strada; Barbara Walbridge; Kathy Glick; Margery Mico, and Lynn and Robert Bell.

Who was that masked woman?

She claimed to be Rochelle Capozzi, and she probably was, but there really was no way to tell, because the woman in question spent the entire evening with her visage hidden behind a massive and amazingly sequinned mask. Executed in the stylized sunburst pattern that is one of the most popular models worn at the annual Ballo en Maschera in Venice, the mask concealed her every feature.

Rochelle (if indeed it was she) most definitely was not in hiding from her husband, Dr. Joe Capozzi, who himself concealed his face behind a golden mask that looked like something lifted from Mozart's "Don Giovanni." Rather, she seemed to be playing to the fullest her role as chairman of "Il Carnevale de Venezia," a spirited romp given Saturday at the U.S. Grant Grand Ballroom that brought together about 300 members and friends of the Las Duenas Auxiliary of the Children's Home Society.

Celebrities Donate Masks

Many, like the Capozzis, spent the evening in a fit of festive and even feathered anonymity, because the party revolved around masks and nearly everyone sported some sort of elegant camouflage. Nor were the exotic creations worn by the guests the only masks in evidence; 30 elaborately decorated examples had been contributed by as many celebrities, and after the crowd had had a chance to inspect them, these were auctioned in a lively bidding battle that raised the evening's net proceeds above the $35,000 mark. The money will be given to the Children's Home Society, an organization that attempts to find permanent homes for children in need of them. This group has several local auxiliaries; Las Duenas represents Rancho Santa Fe and its immediate North County environs.

The ball's committee credited numerous inspirations for the "Carnival in Venice" theme, among which was the simple fact of the date's proximity to Shrove Tuesday, which in this country may be better known by its French name, Mardi Gras. In Venice, the Masked Ball marks the end of the lively Carnevale (literally "farewell to meat") season, which precedes Lent and is followed by 40 days of fasting and solemnity. There, it would not be considered good form to hold a ball during this period, but in San Diego the post-Mardi Gras weeks seem the most popular for carnival celebrations.

A silent (but no more silent than these things ever are) auction of selected masks preceded the dinner and dance and was held in the ballroom's foyer. One of the most popular items sold here was the mask created by actor Dudley Moore; it offered merely his signature scrawled in red, with a minute notation that read "I also do windows." Among other celebrities contributing works to the silent auction were Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward, Western artist Olaf Weighorst, columnist William F. Buckley Jr. and Ambassador John Gavin.

The crowd moved happily to the ballroom when the Dick Braun Orchestra launched into the first of its several hours of musicmaking. It later, in fact, proved difficult work to entice this particular crowd away from the dance floor; because it organizes only one major bash a year, this group makes the most of it.

Venetian Connection

They did settle down for the dinner, though, an extravaganza of courses that celebrated the Venetian connection with such interesting dishes as a sorbet made of Barolo wine, a seafood pasta made in the style of the Adriatic, and a dessert of berries in zabaglione. The U.S. Grant did its bit to support the theme by garnishing the sweets with tiny pastries, cut out in mask shapes and sequinned with colored sugar crystals.

The live auction followed on the heels of the meal; there was considerable competition here for several especially clever masks, most notably the white feather confection sent by actress Linda Gray, and the eerie "cat's face" mask created by designer Giorgio Armani. These two accounted for almost 10% of the party's net proceeds.

Midgie VandenBerg served as the event's co-chairman, and the committee included Suzy Schaefer, Karen Henderson, Ann Footer, Penny Nicholas, Julie Mossy, Linda Suckling, Karen Olson, Wendy Grumet, Carol Keeney and Bonnie Colbourne.

Among the guests were auxiliary President Sue Bubnack and her husband, Harry; DeeDee and Bob Grant; Barbara and Charles Arledge; Fernanda and Don Sammis; Colleen and Van Sansone; Carol and Arnold Yalam; Marge and Paul Palmer; Corrine de Libran; Nancy and David Herrington; Valerie and John McChristy; Barrie and Richard Keeler; Diane and Chuck Elliott; Laurie and Mike Peters, and Judy and Tim Haidinger.

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