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Museum Opening Draws Mixed Crowd

September 22, 1987|PAMELA MARIN

Shiny cars buzzed into the circular driveway of Griffin Towers in Santa Ana Saturday night, disgorging a mix of the well-heeled, the curious and the culturally attuned for the grand opening of the Modern Museum of Art (MMOA).

As late afternoon sun splashed the red sandstone and kohl-colored windows of the sleek new office building, guests headed into the lobby, where a pianist playing classic selections accompanied the popping of corks and jangle of ice in cocktail glasses.

After a brief ribbon-cutting ceremony--foiled by gigantic scissors that couldn't snip the thin white ribbon--guests strolled into the ground-floor museum for a look at the work of Mexican master painter Rufino Tamayo, the museum's premier exhibit, then outside to buffet tables on the lawn.

"This whole week has been pure craziness," said a flustered but enthusiastic Ann Resnik, co-founder of the museum with partner Robert Abbott.

"How do I feel right now?" asked Abbott. "To tell you the truth, I'm tired."

While neither Resnik, a mother of three and sometime small-business administrator, nor Abbott, a Newport Beach entrepreneur and former tennis pro, have formal training in art, they began planning their museum three years ago because "we both wanted to do something we really loved," said Resnik.

According to museum literature, MMOA will function not only as a museum but also as an "educational outreach" service for the nation's schoolchildren. With corporate and private sponsorship, Resnik and Abbott plan to distribute multimedia educational packages, including filmstrips, audio cassettes and lesson plans, to schools throughout the country.

One crucial bit of underwriting came from Roger Torriero, president of Griffin Realty Corp., who donated space for the museum and financed its interior decorating. Surveying the party-goers lined up on the lawn for plates of chicken and beef tacos with all the trimmings, Torriero said he first met with Resnik and Abbott last fall--six months before Griffin Towers was completed.

"Quite frankly, I saw this (museum) as a way to appreciate the commercial space," Torriero said. "I knew a museum/gallery would enhance our leasing opportunities, guarantee a certain amount of media exposure and bring a certain prestige to the building."

Summing up the proceedings, guest Ray McCready, who attended the opening with his wife Irene, said, "This is where the action is these days--art museums, music centers, you name it. I think all this stuff is just great. Pretty soon we won't have to go up to L.A. anymore for anything. " According to Resnik, the opening attracted 1,000 guests and raised an estimated $25,000.

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