FOR A HOCKNEY CANVAS, THE FAT LADY HAS SUNG

Entr'acte cocktails just aren't the same without David Hockney. With its intimate lighting and graceful floral arrangements, the Oval Bar at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is an elegant refuge for thirsty music lovers. But the bar's polished charm and the sleek video monitors for latecomers aren't the only draw--there's also the art. Opera and orchestra fans can savor their coffee drinks amid tastefully hung works by heavy-hitters such as Frank Stella, Michael McMillen and--until last year--Hockney.

That's when a Hockney representative asked the Los Angeles Music Center to return "The Pavilion and Music on Canvas" (as titled on its Music Center nameplate), which had graced the bar for nearly 20 years. "I'm going to miss seeing it," says Howard Sherman, vice president of operations . A festive view of the pavilion from the orchestra pit, the 72-by-60-inch oil on canvas was painted for a fund-raising poster in 1980. Hockney, whose sun-drenched colors and Southern California motifs have made him an L.A. icon, was a natural choice. "The piece came about at a time when David Hockney was focusing on theater design," says Peter Goulds, director of the L.A. Louver gallery, which has worked with Hockney for more than 20 years. "This emerged from that experience."

Hockney let "Pavilion" finish out the 20th century on loan in the Oval Bar, but nothing lasts forever. "Every time he went there he looked at it, and he felt it was time to look at something else," says Karen Kuhlman, an assistant at Hockney's L.A. studio. Until a Music Center panel picks a replacement, a scuffed expanse of wall space and "Pavilion's" brass nameplate remain. The disappearance has prompted phone calls from bereft aficionados, but Music Center officals are philosophical. "We're grateful for his generosity in letting us have it as long as he did," says president Joanne Kozberg. "Today one considers David Hockney one of the greatest California artists, and he has been a mirror on our lifestyle to the rest of the world." As for "Pavilion," the painting now resides in Hockney's private collection, and Kuhlman knows of no plans to exhibit the work--a quiet life for a canvas used to the gala ambience of opera season.

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