The Crowd: Celebrating the O.C.'s fine arts and foods

The Orange County art world came together at Charlie Palmer's in Costa Mesa to plan the final details for Art of Dining 2011. Sponsored by the Orange County Museum of Art, Art of Dining will take place May 6 at the Island Hotel, Newport Beach.

For decades this event has been a signature social "see and be seen" party on the California Riviera. From its origins as the most-talked-about gourmet dining experience — featuring as many as eight courses prepared by the top chefs, not only in this region, but from around the nation — to less gastronomical affairs focusing more on art than food, Art of Dining has always been a creative masterpiece.

Art patrons associated with the Orange County Museum of Art have re-worked, re-imagined and re-invented this fundraiser, continuously pushing the envelope to impress the local glitterati donating thousands of dollars in support of the local art institution.

One of the primary components of Art of Dining, which has not changed over the years, is the honoring of an important living artist or patron of the arts, some of whom have been among the most significant creative forces of our time. All of the honorees have been exceptional and unique individuals impacting the contemporary art scene.

On May 6, Art of Dining welcomes Chris Burden to its elite roster of honored artistic guests.

"Early in his career, Burden believed that truly important art should address political, social, environmental and technological change," offered Kirsten Schmidt, spokeswoman for the Orange County Museum of Art.

She continued: "Burden burst onto the international art scene with a series of performance works in which his body became a living canvas for his artistic experiments. In the mid-1970s Burden abruptly ended his performance pieces and instead turned toward object making. Over the past 30 years the artist has produced assemblages, installations, kinetic, and static sculptures and scientific models."

Interestingly, one of Burden's earliest solo museum exhibitions took place in 1988 at the Newport Harbor Art Museum, which is now known as the Orange County Museum of Art. Today his career takes on an international focus.

In 2008, Burden created a project titled "What My Dad Gave Me," which was a 65-feet tall "Erector Set" skyscraper assembled in New York's Rockefeller Center. The crowd at Charlie Palmer's was abuzz over Burden's return to his Orange County roots.

The executive committee planning Art of Dining includes Marsha Anderson, Inga Beder, Susan Etchandy, Michelle Janavas, Moira Kamgar, Twyla Martin and Irene Martino. Also supporting Art of Dining are Lilly Merage, Lizette Du Pribus, Jennifer Segerstrom and Jennifer Van Bergh. For more information on Art of Dining 2011, please call the Orange County Museum of Art at (949) 759-1122.

THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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