R S V P : MOCA Honors a Longtime Art Lover


Philosophy was much in evidence at a luncheon Wednesday at the Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel as the Museum of Contemporary Art gave its first “Distinguished Women in the Arts” award to Beatrice Gersh.

On the award was inscribed: “It is in your own self-interest to find a way to be very tender.”

Anjelica Huston, who presented the award, was introduced by MOCA director Richard Koshalek with a quote from the actress in a recent magazine: “One shouldn’t be obliged by anything other than the calling of your heart.”

Huston, on presenting the award to Gersh, referred to the philanthropist as someone “true to her own mind and her sense of what is right.”


Gersh, a collector and patron of contemporary and modern art for more than 35 years and a founder of MOCA, spoke of the “great joy and satisfaction” she has experienced in loving the arts. She was particularly delighted as she brought a third generation of “lovers of art"--her four young grandchildren, Steven, Jessica, Laura and Billy--up on the dais to share in her tribute.

“I’m sure they won’t mind one bit missing school for this,” she said, smiling.

A patrons’ reception preceded the luncheon and a runway show of Giorgio Armani’s 1994 fall/winter collection followed, in which chocolate proved the hot color and velvet the “in” fabric, even for men. At least half of the 460 people who attended seemed to be wearing their Armanis, so that the few in bright colors stood out in a sea of beige, gray, ecru, black and brown.

“Mr. Armani’s very first benefit event in Los Angeles, back in 1988, was for MOCA,” said Armani’s celebrity coordinator, Wanda McDaniel.

“I suppose I’m very out of it--this is just an old, double-breasted, navy Ralph Lauren jacket,” producer Dan Melnick admitted.

Barbara Jacobson, MOCA’s Projects Council president, had rushed to get her cream Armani suit altered in time for the luncheon and she also had a last-minute rush to pick up her framed copy of the award to stand in for the bronze plaque, which has not yet been cast.

Her table guests included neighbors Leilah and David Shaffer. “They looked after my husband, Avram, so well while I was so involved with all this,” she said, finally able to relax a moment as she realized the success of the event, which raised approximately $53,000.

Members of the honorary committee included Judy Henning and Richard Rosenzweig, Wallis Annenberg, co-chairwomen Lois Rosen and Pam Smith, honorary chairwoman Lenore Greenberg, and Bea and Phil Gersh’s daughters-in-law Linda Gersh and Susan Gersh.