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L.A. Culture Is All in the Card

June 16, 1996|Suzanne Muchnic | Suzanne Muchnic is The Times' art writer

Tired of carrying a stack of museum membership cards in your wallet? Fed up with shelling out hundreds--if not thousands--of dollars a year to take your family to art shows, concerts, plays and sports events? Cee-LA has an answer for you, and it's a bargain--as well as a possible boon to museums.

For an annual fee of $40--less than the basic $45 membership fee at the Museum of Contemporary Art--Cee-LA members gain free admission to 16 local museums, including MOCA, the Southwest Museum, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County and the UCLA/Armand Hammer Museum. Some institutions allow as many as five family members to enter free with the Cee-LA card-holder. Membership also entitles subscribers to buy half-price tickets to sports events and dance, music and theater performances, subject to availability. Students can purchase a year's membership for $25. Thirty-day memberships also are available at $25.

Although the plan might appear to undercut the museums' own membership programs, many institutions have joined forces with the 6-month-old plan in the hope of increasing attendance and because 25 cents of every Cee-LA dollar is donated to participating museums. (Sports centers and performing arts venues that offer half-price tickets do not get a percentage of membership fees.)

Cee-LA President Scott Doneen, who founded the program with his wife, Ann Salisbury, says it has three objectives: to raise unrestricted funds for cultural institutions, to encourage frequent visits to these institutions and "to promote a positive image of the Southland as a culturally dynamic center."

Local residents who frequently visit museums and attend sports and cultural events are likely to reap the biggest savings from the program, but 30-day tourist memberships are being marketed under "Extend Your Stay" and "Take a New Look" promotions, Doneen said. Membership cards can be purchased in advance and activated upon arrival in Los Angeles.

Information: Cee-LA, P.O. Box 789, La Canada Flintridge, CA 91012-0789; (818) 957-9400.


SANTA FE ACTION: Site Santa Fe, a private nonprofit exhibition space for international contemporary art launched last summer in a converted beer warehouse, has a new curator. Louis Grachos has resigned his curatorial post at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego to join the Santa Fe institution, effective July 1. He will succeed Bruce W. Ferguson, who has been appointed president of the New York Academy of Arts.

Los Angeles dealer Stephen Cohen is holding his annual photography fair, Photo Santa Fe, July 11-14 at the Sweeney Convention Center. Thirty galleries will display their wares--including vintage and contemporary photography and photo-based art. Seminars on collecting are also planned. Information: (213) 937-5482.

Meanwhile, plans are moving forward to establish the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum in a space now occupied by the Allene Lapides Gallery. In December, Santa Fe collectors Eugene and Claire Thaw pledged the museum's first art gift, a 1927 O'Keeffe oil, "Lily--White With Black." Now the Burnett Foundation of Fort Worth has donated a 1932 flower painting, "Jimson Weed." Foundation President Anne Marion started the museum with her husband, John Marion, former chairman of Sotheby's North America. The museum is scheduled to open in June 1997.

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