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The Gazing Is Good at a 'Galaxy'-Themed Benefit for the Armory

March 13, 2001|PATT DIROLL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Queen Amidala and her handmaidens held court amid clouds of vapor from dry ice in a transparent tent erected on Pasadena's City Hall Square for "Galaxy," a gala party and silent art auction to benefit the Armory Center for the Arts.

A display of the costumes from Lucasfilm's "Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace" set the tone for the event Saturday to celebrate the Armory's "The Universe, Contemporary Art and the Cosmos," one of an ongoing series of multimedia exhibitions by eight Pasadena cultural institutions.

Multicolored images of the galaxy were projected on the city hall dome, which cast a dramatic glow through the clear roof of the tent. Caterer Peggy Dark's servers, dressed as lab technicians, dispensed hors d'oeuvres from black boxes, while guests surveyed the works of 68 artists gathered by Armory stalwart Martha Williams for auction. "This is unique because we have both established artists and new young artists. The quality is so high, this could be an introductory course to Southern California contemporary art," enthused Dianne Magee, who co-chaired the event with Maureen Carlson.

There were some real-life galactic visionaries in the crowd: Judith and Paul MacCready, creator of the Gossamer Condor, and Caltech physicist Al Hibbs and his wife, Marka, who looked celestial as a daughter of Atlas in a silver caftan and headdress of Pleiades stars. And who put this mission into orbit? Consummate space commander Jim Watterson, of course. The event grossed $175,000. Proceeds will aid the Armory's educational and outreach programs, he said.

*

It was all too delicious, dear hearts. Tony Duquette would have loved it.

The 500-plus guests at the party held to preview auction items of the late designer actually managed to upstage his outre collection. Everyone there Thursday at Santa Monica Air Center's Barker Hangar seemed to be wearing a "connection" to the former Bullock's display-designer-turned-inter-national-legend. Terry Stanfill sparkled in a cloud of pink satin and brocade, "an old Christian Lacroix that I wore when I last dined with Tony," she said.

Party highlights included designer Peter Lai costumed as "No. 1 concubine," an African drum parade, showers of baubles and beads, dessert-laden pagodas and an ear-shattering gong borrowed from designer Matthew White's living room.

Ana Roth was dripping in gems from her late grandmother and cruise line heiress, Lurline Matson Roth. "Tony did all my grandmother's balls in San Francisco," Roth recalled. "She let him do anything. He once wanted 1,000 sunflowers for a party, so she planted two acres for him." Artist Charlotte Jackson wore an opulent antique Chinese ensemble owned by Duquette's late wife, Beegle.

The evening honored four patrons of the arts in Los Angeles who were longtime friends of the Duquettes: Frances Brody, Hannah Carter, Noorna Eversole and Stanfill. Proceeds from the preview will support the acquisition fund of the Decorative Arts Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, said event co-chairwomen Sondra Ott and Joanne MacRae.

Coming Up

The Jeffrey Foundation, which serves children with special needs, will pay tribute to the memory of Steve Allen at a gala benefit Wednesday at the Olympic Collection in West Los Angeles. Tickets are $100. Call (323) 965-7536.

"Vintage L.A.: Fashions for the Future" is a Salvation Army benefit to support Alegria, its $8-million facility for homeless and low-income families affected by HIV-AIDS. The tea will feature a runway show of vintage clothing embellished by designers Janice McCarty, Estevan Ramos and Trina Turk, and a boutique selling pieces handpicked by the designers from Salvation Army thrift stores. Tickets: $75. Information: (800) 431-0330.

Members of the Luminaires of Doheny Eye Institute host their annual fund-raiser, "A Star-Spangled Evening," featuring Florence Henderson on Thursday at the California Club. Tickets are $250. Call (626) 795-1877.

The 10th annual Wine Tasting and Auction to benefit L.A. Shanti, L.A.'s oldest AIDS service organization, takes place on Sunday at the Westin Bonaventure Hotel in downtown Los Angeles. Tickets are $75 in advance, $100 at the door. Call (323) 962-8197.

The Rodeo Drive Committee and the Entertainment Industry Foundation host "Jaguar's Tribute to Style" at Santa Monica Air Center's Barker Hangar (not on Rodeo Drive this year because of unpredictable weather). California State Summer School for the Arts, the Museum of Contemporary Art and Teach for America will benefit. Tickets are $1,000. Call (310) 406-8680.

Bob Newhart will be the special guest at the fifth annual Support Our Aging Religious dinner Monday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The event will honor Maude and Richard Ferry. Tickets are $250. Call (310) 271-4386.

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