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RSVP / THE SOCIAL CITY : Elegant Tribute to Generous Pair

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Summertime casual it was not. The black-tie tribute dinner to Iris and B. Gerald Cantor and the celebration of Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Gustave Caillebotte “Urban Impressionist” exhibition currently showing was so elegant that 504 of the city’s most knowledgeable party-goers were impressed.

Thinking Topiary: To begin, Rodin’s “The Thinker” was simulated in topiary greenery at the Times Mirror Court entrance to the museum. The “red carpet” was not red, but green, to better go with the museum’s marble.

Guests feasted on salmon tartar and smoked salmon with champagne before touring the exhibition. Then they passed a floral fountain designed by Fleurish and a 16-foot hedge of greenery to sit for dinner under soft light crafted by Watts Up.

Tribute to Iris: Place cards ornamented with engraved purple irises defined each setting, and how Somerset Catering got five glasses (three of them etched with flowers) with a big blue plate at each place was a miracle.

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First course was a caviar pie, with Absolut vodka, the bottles frozen with red roses in cubes of ice. The Sonoma baby lamb chops were served with pommes dauphinois, pencil asparagus and ratatouille. Dessert was a “painter’s palette” of chocolate torte with an edible paintbrush accompanied by Perrier Jouet Grand Brut N.V. Last came the sweet Iris truffles with coffee.

In Black Lace: Wearing a Jimmy Galanos black Chantilly lace gown, Iris Cantor admitted she had just a little to do with staging the party. But, she wanted it to be nice, because, while the museum was toasting the Cantors for their beneficence, the Cantors were toasting the 50th anniversary of their company, Cantor Fitzgerald. It’s the global securities firm that has provided them their wealth as well as the funds to buy lots of Rodins for LACMA and for Stanford, and to sustain their enormous contributions over the years to education and health.

LACMA board of trustees President William Mingst set the tone for the evening, pointing out the Cantors’ influence “on the fabric of our community.” French Consul General Jean Maurice Ripert noted their “mutual passion for people and life” and added “ merci beaucoup .”

Smitten with Rodin: Iris Cantor (also a trustee of New York’s Metropolitan Museum and the Brooklyn Museum) responded that husband Bernie in 1945 viewed Rodin’s “The Hand of God,” and it has affected him ever since. They have collected 730 Rodins.

And she encouraged the gifts of others: “Together we can make a difference.”

Dr. Peter and Helen Bing sat at the Cantor center table; so did new museum President Andrea Rich.

In Orbit: In the crowd were Bob and Kathy Ahmanson, she out for the first time after surgery. Ann and Bill Lucas admired the paintings, as did art dealers Gail Feingarten and Louis Stern. Charlie Munger was ahead of Nancy in the gallery. She lingered over “Villas at Trouville” and the many Yerres garden scenes. “I paint watercolors,” she said, “and I’m the one who goes into orbit over these paintings.”

In orbit on the dance floor where disc jockey Jeff Ames kept a frisky pace (“Ride, Sally, Ride,” “You’re 16,” “Twist and Shout”) were Harriet Deutsch and Lloyd Riegler, Sheila Weisz (it was her birthday), Joanne and Roger Kozberg, Shel and Sandy Ausman, and Michael and Phyllis Hennegin.

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Others spotted: Robert Egelston, Catherine Cheney, Stan and Ferne Margulies, Joann and Julian Ganz (leaving the next day for Sun Valley), Suzanne Marx with Edward Kushell, Jean Fair, Stephanie Barron, J. Patrice Marandel, Red and Alecia Buttons, and Arthur and Audrey Greenberg. The exhibition closes Sept. 10.

Elsewhere on the Social Circuit

Summertime casual it was. Five hundred people spread blankets on the sand at “Bach Hits the Beach,” First Cut’s benefit for the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra at the Beach Club.

Shorts and sun dresses were de rigueur. The adults carried their pink boxes of chicken and brownies to their blankets. The children, such as Spencer Stephens, proudly toted their own pails of chicken and gobbled it all down before the orchestra performed the music of J.C. Bach, Haydn, Elgar, Vivaldi and J.S. Bach.

Secretly, the young-minded mothers who head First Cut hope that the classical music sinks into their youngsters’ psyches.

But, while the orchestra played as the sun sank, the empty pails went into action. One young boy dug a hole and jumped in. A blond tot with a white bow on her head, carried sand from one side of the boardwalk and emptied it on the other side for half an hour in some special mission.

Behind Nancy and Ray McCullough, children, including their own three--Joe, Tom and Alice--and John and James Bookout, and Kelly and Christopher Brengel dug a hole so precarious that Ray McCullough’s beach chair capsized.

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More attending: event chairwoman Paulette Burkitt with her husband, Bill; First Cut President Hilda Adler and her daughter, Monica; Lindy Evans with Peter Martin and her daughter, Jamie; Kim and Bill Wardlaw (he an adviser to Mayor Richard Riordan) and their son, Billy; Charles and Eileen Reed with their family; Mary and Alan Leslie with 9-month-old Jacob; Pomona’s Shakespearean scholar Martha Andresen with daughter Emily; and David Rogers, who explained violins and bassoons to daughter Ryan. His wife Victoria was home with 5-day-old Spencer.

Alan Chapman impersonated Bach, and the audience giggled with Evan Powell when he was chosen to play the triangle with the orchestra.

* Mary Lou Loper’s column is published Sundays.

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