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After the Fourth Glass, the Statues Were Pretty Tipsy

November 06, 2000|BOOTH MOORE

Never having been to a champagne or even a wine-tasting before, I couldn't pass up the chance to go to Dom Perignon's party the other night for three newly released classic vintages. When I arrived for the tasting at photographer Greg Gorman's studio on Beverly Boulevard, I half expected to be greeted by snooty servers in velvet knickers and powdered wigs. Instead, I was greeted by a friendly woman who handed me a recording device with a taped description of the wines and their histories.

Using the gizmo, which was shaped like an elongated cell phone, made me feel like one of the earphone-wearing zombies one sees at blockbuster museum shows. But the sad truth is, without it, I could just as well have been swilling a $5 bottle of Andre.

Inside, 1993, 1985 and 1973 vintages were served at stations festooned with memorabilia from those years (movie posters, photographs and newspaper clippings mostly). With the recorder, I listened as a heavy French accent instructed me to savor the notes of peaches, cashew nuts, dry herbs and toasted brioche in the 1993 vintage. Not sure about the brioche, but the champagne was better than anything I'd tasted before.

I was sure the 1973 vintage was going to be even more delicious. After all, it costs around $1,000 a bottle. "Taste the strength . . . the vivacity," the voice whispered to me. "It's a wine revelation! A complex, intriguing character." It was so complex, in fact, that I needed a second glass to fully grasp it.

After tasting each vintage, I joined the crowd in the lobby for hors d'oeuvres. Infinitely more interesting than the smattering of celebs (Gary Busey) was a trio of statues. Posed on grass-covered podiums, each was covered head-to-toe with gray paint and dressed in clothing from each vintage year (go-go boots for 1973, a fringe heavy-metal jacket for 1985, and a tank top and backward baseball cap for 1993).

The statues were so realistic, it was several minutes before I realized they were actually real people--now that's some good champagne.

*

Thursday's opening reception for artist Chris Wilson's first gallery show probably wouldn't have had the same draw if brother-in-law Tom Hanks hadn't lent his name to the invitations. But this town is all about connections, so why not use them, right?

Luckily, the oil paintings on display at Montana Studio in Santa Monica were easy on the eyes. The moody works depicted abstract figures, many of whom are musicians. An abstract portrait of John Lee Hooker was adapted from a photo taken during one of the Boogie Man's recent shows in L.A. Chris, 39, who is self-taught, often incorporates shadows or facial expressions from old photographs into his work.

Rita Wilson couldn't make it (she's performing "Dinner With Friends" in Boston), but her hubby was a more than ample stand-in. Hanks only learned of Chris' talent two years ago. "One of the first portraits I saw that Chris did was of his mom," Hanks said. "When she opened it up on Mother's Day, I gasped."

Chris has been painting since he was a young boy, said mom Dorothy Wilson, whose own artistic interests include crocheting and jewelry-making. A full-time mother, she said she never had time to pursue her craft professionally. "I'm an artist in my heart."

*

Booth Moore can be reached at booth.moore@latimes.com.

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