Investment in futures

Times Staff Writer

A spring evening in Venice. A Hummer muscled its way into the Gold’s Gym parking lot. Down the street, young valets sprinted to and from an artist’s studio.

Inside Charles Arnoldi’s studio courtyard, music-loving guests of two generations mingled, sipping wine among iron potato sculptures. As the sun set, the conversation centered on John -- not Ryan -- Adams. Appreciation ranged from major to minor.

The event was organized by the Los Angeles Philharmonic to attract younger members in connection with the opening this fall of the Walt Disney Concert Hall.

Many parents -- friends of the host, the Phil or Frank Gehry -- had brought their grown offspring. Children and art, indeed.


Collector Laura Donnelly Morton and her children, filmmakers Max and Mimi Wheeler, made an early downtown beeline: the Lakers were playing. “I don’t think of myself as a philistine,” said Max Wheeler with a grin as he gently tugged his sister’s sleeve, impatient to leave. “I’m just well-rounded.”

In a corner, the host told his studio’s history -- it once housed a potato chip factory. He talked of the gentrification of the neighborhood. His wife, Katie, the author and former bodybuilder champ, recounted a conversation with Victoria Hopper, who lives nearby. “She was saying, these days she feels like she has to brush her hair before even going down the street. It’s true.”

Friends and Arnoldi colleagues -- Peter Alexander and Ed Moses -- came for a drink and some gossip, mainly good-natured chatter about Gehry and how to score some seats at the upcoming Disney Hall galas.

From music to the mundane, they talked of the local fish market. One guest had gotten good flounder recently.

“Flounder!” Arnoldi exclaimed, delighted, and publicly hijacked the word as a title for a painting. “Titles are difficult,” he said. “But you need them for recall.... I have had some good ones,” he added with the modesty of an artist.

The evening then turned from fish to bread, as Joan Cumming, director of marketing and communications of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, pitched the exclusive member club Overture to the next generation of philanthropists.

Just as the pitch got underway, Dennis Hopper arrived.

His wife at home tending their 3-week-old daughter, Hopper was accompanied by a young blond. It was his son, Henry, whose shaggy hair and mischievous air prompted a compliment from a female guest.


The 11-year-old took it in stride. With an arched brow and a crooked smile, the younger Hopper confidently strolled into the party.

The next generation had arrived.