What if they gave a party and everybody came? That's what happened Wednesday night at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art when "David Hockney: A Retrospective" opened and 1,500 or 2,100 or 2,800 friends showed up.
Friends of the artist, of LACMA, of AT&T (which sponsored the exhibit), and big names from UK/LA flooded the museum, waves of black-tied partygoers surging between the tables crowding the Times Mirror Central Court. And, amazingly, everybody in this extraordinary, eclectic mix seemed to be having a wonderful time.
"Everybody accepted and obviously everybody is coming," Earl Powell III said as the arriving guests just kept arriving. He shrugged, a happy museum director--"There is enough food, drink and places to sit down."
"Are there only 2,500 people? Is that all we invited?" kidded Zack Manna, the corporate advertising manager of AT&T, who was instrumental in funding the 200-plus-piece exhibit to the tune of $850,000.
Beside him, Hockney beamed and did a nervous little dance as friends lined up to kiss him hello. Lighting a cigarette, he said with Manna that this party was great--but Manna should have made his and Butch Kirby's New Year's Eve bash.
This was the hot ticket--and contributors to LACMA deserved their invite. "We got calls from people, offering money," Pam Jenkinson, LACMA's public information officer said with a big smile. She pointed to a new category of giving, the President Circle Patrons (that's a $5,000 annual gift from an individual or couple) that in less than a month had 60 couples signing up. And, as she said--and everyone in the nonprofit biz would agree--in the days of the new federal tax laws, that's a windfall.
And what a windfall of brand names showed up--Dick and Dee Sherwood, coming in the back door and zipping early into the exhibit; Dona and Dwight Kendall (their gallery in the Anderson Building is where some of the Hockney is shown); Doug Cramer and his two buddies--former sisters-in-law Ames Cushing and Caroline Cushing Graham, her Jasper Conran crushed-velvet pant suit perfect in the night air.
Seen in the crowd were Julian and Jo Ann Ganz, actress Katherine Helmond, sculptor Robert Graham, Sir Alan Bowness (the director of the Tate Gallery in London, a future site of the exhibit); British Consul General Donald and Elizabeth Ballentyne, Vincent and Coral Price and Billy and Audrey Wilder.
Joan Quinn (Jack was working) was minus her usual Zandra Rhodes, but her black Comme de Garcon sure set off that giant Seaman Schepps starfish pin, and on her usual forearm of Cartier signed watches were her daughters, Jennifer and Amanda (just back from India). Barbara Belzberg was toasty in fisher-and-mink coat, Daisy Belin had a Persian lamb jacket showing off an antique Cartier brooch, and Hope Boonshaft-Lewis brought smiles from her dentist husband, Roger, wrapped in her lavish Victorian-styled sheared chinchilla Fendi coat.
For all the thin people: They could chow down on yummy food from Somerset, great little pecan brownies, real brownies and a gigantic chocolate- and apricot-filled cake from Rosebud, with icing duplicating Hockney's "A Walk Around the Hotel Courtyard Acatlan." Yes, art as food.
Crush of Celebrities
Lloyd Rigler stopped on his way to the buffet tables to chat with Museum Board of Trustees president Dan Belin. Former City Hall operative Fran Savitch chatted with Deputy Mayor Mike and Lacey Gage, then moved on to Steve and Patsy Tisch.
Looking like a work of art was Spago's Barbara Lazaroff in an Indian-style Zandra Rhodes beaded tunic pantsuit. She kiddingly greeted friends with, "Hello, I'm out of context," then gave a big kiss to the glam Jolene Schlatter. Guilford Glazer pulled Diane along behind him, determinedly heading for the crush outside the Anderson Building.
The evening was a series of lines--lines of fur-bearing art lovers waiting to get into the museum, lines of more art lovers trying to get into the actual exhibit, and yet more lines waiting for a glass of wine. "It's bad enough that they are serving this terrible white wine," one art connoisseur commented, "But to make it hard to get . . . "