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Hark, the herald angels sell (for a good cause)

The “Angel of Love, Light and Giving” twinkled with a thousand pinpoints of fiber-optic light; another angel titled “Stara” (old star) reflected light off its mosaic surface of glass, metallic paint and Mylar. There were angels created by the casts and crews of the TV shows “The Practice” and “The West Wing"; an angel by Brigid LaBonge decorated with photos of L.A. neighborhoods shot by her husband, Councilman Tom LaBonge; a Laker Angel in a team jersey with images of the 2001-02 team on its wings.

These angels and more were for sale last Saturday on downtown’s Music Center Plaza as part of A Community of Angels, a public art project that benefits youth programs.

Now in its second year, A Community of Angels places the 69 fiberglass angels, each approximately 6 feet tall and decorated by local artists, throughout Los Angeles for several months, then auctions them for charity.

Between 500 and 600 people, clutching little plates of hors d’oeuvres and auction paddles, roamed the plaza in search of the perfect angel.

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The crowd included angel artists, former Police Chief Bernard Parks, Music Center President Joanne Kozberg and the tiara-ed Tiffany Liu and Tina Huang, Miss L.A. Chinatown and that neighborhood’s Fourth Princess.

Although the auctioneer begged for $100,000 to $200,000, most of the 21 angels sold for $4,000 to $6,000. The auction raised about $104,000, but is expected to raise more when the leftover angels are sold via EBay and other Internet outlets. Last year’s auction and after-sale raised $250,000.

The angel netting Saturday’s highest bid -- $9,000 -- was artist Janine Anderson’s “Children’s Reading Angel.” It was purchased by Barbara Lazaroff, wife and partner of restaurateur Wolfgang Puck. The sculpture, whose wings are lined with shelves of real books, also contains Councilman LaBonge’s library card, impulsively donated to the project. (No word on whether he has since been issued a new one.)

Last year, Lazaroff purchased an angel fashioned after the Tin Man of “The Wizard of Oz.”

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It now stands in her yard, along with a theme-appropriate yellow brick road. Lazaroff’s latest purchase will not take up residence next to the Tin Man, but will instead be donated to the private school her 7-year-old son attends.

--DIANE HAITHMAN


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