Art stars, collectors and dealers accustomed to seeing Marcia Weisman's collection on the walls of the late art patron's luxurious Beverly Hills home were of two sentiments at the inauguration of "Selections from the Marcia Simon Weisman Collection" at the Museum of Contemporary Art Wednesday night.
Weisman, who died in October, was a founding trustee of the museum and a potent force in the art scene.
"I'm here with definite mixed emotions, having seen these pieces in her home," said Robert Gore Rifkind, a voracious collector who remarked that he hadn't bought a single piece of art all week.
"When I went to her house she was my docent, and when she came to my house I was her docent," Rifkind added as he glanced around the galleries filled with contemporary art.
Said Doug Cramer, president of the MOCA board, "Half the people here who collect were guided by Marcia and her taste and her nudges. She was the greatest."
The event also marked the fifth anniversary of the dedication of the museum in California Plaza, and it attracted a diverse guest list, including Nyal Leslie, president of Metropolitan Structures West and developer of the complex, and artists George Herms, Ed Moses, DeWain Valentine, John McCracken, Laddie John Dill and Woods Davy.
Museum directors--and not just MOCA's Richard Koshalek--also were in abundance, among them Rusty Powell, director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; John Lane, director of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Walter Hopps of the De Menil Collection in Houston.
"Marcia was only territorial insofar as contemporary art and California were concerned," said Powell. "She touched every institution in Southern and Northern California."
Artist Mel Ramos searched the rooms for a portrait he painted of Weisman as a birthday present to her.
"She'd always told me how much she loved Bob Graham," Ramos said of the Los Angeles sculptor, "and I got a little jealous. I wanted her to love me too."
How did she like the portrait? "Unfortunately, it was a portrait of her when she was 70, and she preferred portraits of her when she was 30," replied Ramos.
"She was the person you could go and talk to if you had a complaint about the art world," said artist Larry Bell.
"But she'd cut you right open if you were pitying yourself too much. Her counsel was always pretty good."
Richard Weisman posed before an Andy Warhol portrait of his mother, certain that this exhibit would have pleased her.
"This museum was her baby," he explained. "This she could mold. She had trouble molding me. She'd be very happy to see this."