Fine Little Art Catches Eye at Benefit

Tom Tierney dubbed them “the only affordable housing in Orange County” at Tiffany & Co. in South Coast Plaza on Sunday night.

Tierney was talking about the homey sculptures of Gifford Myers, creator of the Multiple Listings collection, some of which were on exhibit at the jewelry store’s benefit for the Fine Arts Gallery at UC Irvine.

Myers’ ceramic works--displayed in built-in wall cases--received almost as much attention as Tiffany’s heart-stopping trinkets. One piece in particular, “Hold Out/Holding On,” got a lion’s share of stares from guests.

“It’s about the little guy,” said Myers, peering into the showcase at the teensy house he had sandwiched between two skyscrapers. “He’s been offered over a million bucks for his property, but money has no meaning to him. Emotional value does. So he says: ‘Let them build on either side. The hell with you guys. We’re going to hold out!’ ” His sculptures are priced from $3,500 to $5,000, said Myers, who teaches art at UC Irvine.


Supporters of the Fine Arts Gallery gathered at 6:30 p.m. to be wined and dined and, along with Myers’ works, enjoy the whimsical displays of artist Gene Moore, master window designer for Tiffany & Co. in New York.

(It was Moore who did the windows for the movie “Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” “We filled them with miniature chandeliers. They were beautiful,” said Moore, who noted that he saw Audrey Hepburn recently.)

Among the guests was UC Irvine Chancellor Jack W. Peltason, attending with his wife, Suzanne, and their daughter, Nancy Elliott. “The art gallery is a gem,” he said. “It’s especially appropriate for the campus since it involves teachers, students, audiences and continuing discussion about what goes on. It’s a hidden treasure that is becoming less hidden.”

For the gallery’s director, Melinda Wortz, it’s a place to spotlight “cutting-edge art.” On Wortz’s dream list: a gallery large enough to display California light and space sculptors, such as Robert Irwin, Larry Bell and Bruce Nauman.


“Giuseppe Ponza of Milan, Italy, is a collector of these artists,” said Wortz, an avid art collector who has known Ponza for several years. “Our goal is to accommodate his collection.”

Renee Segerstrom was honorary chairwoman of the benefit, which raised more than $8,000.

Red hot: He plays it cool on the podium, but he sure knows how to heat up a party.

Having mixed with music lovers at the Center Club after his performance with the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra on Saturday, Zubin Mehta sat down to dine.


While his table partners watched with fascination (and uttered nary a word), the dashing maestro brought forth a tiny gold filigree box from deep inside his coat pocket.

Delicately, he opened it and produced two of the skinniest objects this side of a pair of chopsticks. Placing the red peppers on his plate, he minced them, then folded the flecks into his spinach crepes and saucy chicken.

What was it all about? No one dared ask. But one Mehta-watcher ventured a guess. “I figure since he is Indian, he must love spicy food,” said Erich Vollmer, executive director of the Orange County Philharmonic Society. (The society co-sponsored the champagne and petit buffet with the Orange County chapter of the American Jewish Committee.)

Earlier in the evening, Mehta--whose appearance at the Orange County Performing Arts Center marked his first since he starred at its opening--had received a nod from Lewis Janowsky, vice president of the local committee. But first, Mehta had told the arts-loving crowd that he felt uncomfortable about receiving the International Cultural Diplomacy Award.


“I really don’t deserve this,” he said. “What I’ve given of my artistry to the state of Israel, the state has given me back a hundred times.

“I have just come from a month of concerts there. We try to show the world that there is a side of Israel other than the one we read about on the front pages of world newspapers. And it is our fervent wish that Israel will once and for all be wiped off the front pages, or exist there only for cultural and scientific reasons. Because in cultural and scientific areas, Israel is on par with everyone else in the world.”

Life is a stage: Talk about a soft sell. It was fizzy champagne and snazzy canapes for members of the Theatre Guild of South Coast Repertory on Saturday when they gathered to raise money at I. Magnin at South Coast Plaza.

Rubbing elbows in the tony department store’s Miss Magnin and Fine Apparel departments, guests got to ogle the latest in daytime wear while they ogled each other in the latest in cocktail wear. (For benefit committee members, spangled, ruffled and poufed knits by St. John were the hands-down favorites.)


But the soft sell had as much to do with what’s new for spring as it had to do with marketing Magnin. Chiffon scarfs are what’s triple hot in accessories, said Noddie Weltner, special events coordinator for I. Magnin’s southern region.

“The chiffon scarf is the accessory item,” she noted. “And you can wear it with anything--a suit, a blouse and skirt . . . .”

And you can drape it several ways: around your neck, over your shoulder, even around your waist. “It’s really new to tie a scarf around your head and throw on a pair of shades,” Weltner said.

“Sunglasses are another important accessory this season. There are the kind you hide behind, and there are the kind you buy to make a fashion statement.”


After yummies, guests rode the escalators to watch a first-floor fashion show that featured the spring silhouettes of such designers as Claude Montana, Geoffrey Beene and Bill Blass, a favorite of the First Lady (as if you didn’t know).

Proceeds were estimated at $5,000. Rosemary Sieve is Guild president. Catherine Steisel and Donna Gaglia were co-chairwomen.