Nothing private about this passion


Call it the latest example of Lexus liberalism: A group of artists will be donating work for an auction to raise money for the Santa Monica-Malibu school system, to help make up for declining numbers of art teachers in the public schools. Interestingly, some of these artists, and a huge number of the celebs on the board of For the Arts, the campaign working for the benefit of the public schools, have children in private schools.

“Even in our steering committee, many of them have kids in private school or don’t have kids at all,” says For the Arts executive director Linda Gross, sounding unruffled by the contradiction. “But they believe in public education.” The celebs behind this effort of the Santa-Monica-Malibu Education Foundation, which is trying to repair the damage done by state budget cuts to arts education, could fill a table or two at Spago: Jason Alexander, Jackson Browne, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Henley, Terry Semel, Sting and many others.

One of the celebs offers teary quotes on the press release. “Think, for a moment, of a world without the magic of music, the beauty of color, the passion of theater, or the grace of dance,” says For the Arts co-chairman Mel Gibson, who made his name as a warrior in a futuristic nightmare and as a hirsute Celt kicking tail while wearing a kilt.


Many of the artists involved are serious figures -- among them are Frank Gehry, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, Lita Albuquerque, Ed Moses and Martin Mull -- all of whom will be donating work for the Feb. 8 auction at 20th Century Fox, which the Doors’ John Densmore will serenade. (For more information, call Linda Gross at [310] 396-4557.)

We won’t single out anyone specifically for their private school ties -- being a celebrity’s child is surely trial enough -- and we’d hate to discourage these parents from being equally generous to Crossroads or Harvard-Westlake. But you know who you are.

-- Scott Timberg