Brunch Was Quite the Spread of Appetizing Art

With an Ed Ruscha covering the wall in the living room, a Donald Judd sculpture standing guard in the corner, a Richard Serra over the bed and works by Andy Warhol and Cy Twombly greeting guests in the foyer, the Westwood apartment of 32-year-old art collector Eugenio Lopez is a dream setting for a Sunday brunch--even though I felt a bit wary as I balanced a Bloody Mary and a plate of scrambled eggs on my lap.

Lopez, sole heir to Mexico's Jumex beverage conglomerate, had invited a few art lovers over to celebrate the opening of Mexican sculptor Gabriel Orozco's retrospective at the Museum of Contemporary Art. The palette of guests included MOCA director Jeremy Strick, L.A. artist John Baldessari and gallery owner Margo Leavin, all of whom seemed less interested in the food than in Lopez's collection, which caused many a jaw to drop.

The boyishly handsome Lopez divides his time between Mexico City (where the family concern produces fruit juices and the wacky-named Chocoloco) and L.A., where he grew to appreciate contemporary art a decade ago.

Collecting, he says, "became an addiction." He began amassing his collection with the help of art dealer Estella Provas. The two opened West Hollywood's Chac Mool Gallery in 1994. In October, he will open La Coleccion Jumex in Mexico City to showcase his treasures there.

Lopez said he feels that Orozco's multimedia sculptures, in which he juxtaposes real objects such as a ping-pong table and a lily pad, exemplify Mexico's emerging art scene. And L.A. art advisor Patricia Marshall agrees.

"You don't think about Orozco being Mexican," she says. "You think about him being international."

"Not a lot of people realize how progressive the art scene is in Mexico," says Audrey Irmas, who chairs MOCA's board of directors. "Gabriel's show is a good example of that."

Mexico City's La Coleccion Jumex will be located within Grupo Jumex headquarters and will feature works from an international slate of contemporary artists. The space will fund projects and host traveling exhibitions, including the Orozco retrospective.

"The Jumex collection will be very conceptual--very different from the traditional notion of Mexican art as spiritual and religious," said Marshall, an advisor on the project.

Many of the brunch guests had come from out of town for the MOCA opening. Monica Manzutto, 28, and Jose Kuri, 31, a married couple from Mexico City, own a gallery (Kurimanzutto, a combination of their names) that is not a physical space but travels to different locales. For their inaugural event nine months ago, the couple rented two stalls at a local market. Artists created works relating to the market theme, and the pieces were offered for sale at inexpensive prices.

"We sold everything," said Manzutto, who wore Birkenstock sandals and a long skirt. "It was a beautiful day!"

I wonder if any of the works were fashioned after Jumex drinks? Chocoloco could provide lots of inspiration.

For the Record Los Angeles Times Thursday June 8, 2000 Home Edition Southern California Living Part E Page 2 View Desk 1 inches; 18 words Type of Material: Correction SoCal Confidential. A photo caption in Wednesday's column was mislabeled. Eugenio Lopez was shown to the left of Gabriel Orozco.
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