WITH KIDS IN MIND: Event co-chairman Ryan Kavanaugh, left, shares a laugh… (Charley Gallay / WireImage.com )
Converting a parking garage into a grand gala venue can be daunting, especially when tickets sell for a minimum of $2,500 each and the guest list is packed with young Hollywood A-listers, among them Tobey Maguire, Kate Bosworth, Adam Lambert, Nicole Richie, Ali Larter, Brittany Snow, Sophia Bush, Rachel Bilson, Rumer Willis and Demetri Martin.
Fortunately, artist Shepard Fairey was this year's "visionary" at the Art of Elysium’s "Heaven," which took place Jan. 16 beside the Beverly Hilton. Fairey set a stylish scene by covering the garage walls with graphic murals that combined children's artwork, stencil designs, a picture of his daughter Vivienne and a classic Mick Rock photo of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.
"The idea is connection and integration. We all are connected," Fairey said. "When we collaborate, there is mutual benefit. We need to look out for each other and take care of each other."
The Art of Elysium encourages artists, musicians and actors to spend time in creative pursuits with children who are either hospitalized or suffer from medical conditions. "If an artist can use creativity to ease the pain of these children, that is our personal vision of heaven on earth," the charity's founder Jennifer Howell said.
During the cocktail hour, Topher Grace said he recently staged an improvisation workshop for children in Santa Barbara. Never mind that he had no prior experience in teaching ad-libbing skills. "I improvised," he said. "I learned from the kids."
Event co-chairman Ryan Kavanaugh, attending with Britta Lazenga, said, "It's mutual. As much you give to the children, they give back to you." Kavanaugh, chief executive of Relativity Media, is the charity's chairman.
Kirsten Dunst received the night's "Spirit of Elysium" award. "I love spending time with the children," she said. "I put on plays, and I do art projects with them. I love being part of this group."
As guests dined, another of the event co-chairs, Lisa Love of Vogue magazine, presented a fashion show with what she described as a "punk vibe."
The edgy mode prevailed through dessert, during performances by Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols and the legendary Billy Idol.
Organizers of the event, which drew 600 guests, estimated net proceeds at $800,000. Co-chairs also included Shawn Sanford of Microsoft and Jean-Christophe Bedos of Boucheron.
LACMA dance event
It may seem like déjà vu, but Joni Smith actually has been there before. Smith is this year's chairwoman of the Costume Council of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, just as she was 26 and 27 years ago.
Smith described the council as a support group for LACMA's Costume and Textiles Department, which is "event-driven," each year presenting designers, authors, stylists and others involved in fashion or jewelry design.
On Jan. 13, the council offered one such program, "LACMA Dances With the Stars" with choreographer Christian Perry.
As the night's emcee, Perry interviewed Steven Lee, one of the hit TV show's costume designers, along with professional dancers Kym Johnson and Louis van Amstel. Using dance demonstrations, Perry showed how costumes can not only emphasize movement but also hide body flaws.
Van Amstel talked about how challenges can arise unexpectedly, as they did when his partner -- Kelly Osbourne -- lost 20 to 30 pounds during the season. When the couple elected to repeat one of their first dances on the eighth week and had to use the original costume, it had to be downsized in a hurry.
After the presentation, nearly 400 guests gathered for cocktails and mini-pizzas. Included were the group's patron chairman Jim Watterson and program chairwoman Shelli Place, plus Nicole Sokolow, Dani Lancer, Deborah Rader, Ginny Sydorick, Judith Krantz, Ricki and Marvin Ring, Cheryl Van Tassel and Harvey Rosen.