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Raising funds for refugees in Pakistan

Ludus Athletics and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees team up at the Montage in Beverly Hills. The Santa Monica Musuem of Art toasts its executive director.

January 16, 2011|By Ellen Olivier | Special to the Los Angeles Times
  • Elsa Longhauser, with artist Mark Bradford, center, and her husband, Bill Longhauser, at the Santa Monica Museum of Art's 10th anniversary celebration for her.
Elsa Longhauser, with artist Mark Bradford, center, and her husband, Bill… (Monica Orozco )

Just before the Ludus Athletics models began parading down the runway at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, Vincent Cochetel, North America's representative to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, suggested people imagine an area the size of California under five to eight feet of water for two and a half months.

That is the scope, Cochetel said, of last summer's disastrous Pakistan floods, which affected an estimated 20 million people. With Pakistan hosting 1.7 million refugees, primarily from Afghanistan, the U.S. association for UNHCR paired up with Ludus Athletics to raise awareness and funds for these refugees.

" Al Qaeda and the Taliban operate in these areas," said Hamed Wardak, chief executive of Ludus Athletics, speaking at the Wednesday event. "If we don't get involved to win the hearts and minds of these people, Al Qaeda and the Taliban will." Wardek said proceeds from sales of his new line of T-shirts and yoga pants would go toward relief efforts.

Also attending were Marc Breslaw, USA for UNHCR's executive director; Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Afghanistan; actress Azita Ghanizada; Sonia Nassery Cole, producer of "The Black Tulip" and founder of the Afghanistan World Foundation; and Riffat Masood, consul general of Pakistan.

Cheers to museum director

Celebrating "The Power of Ten" at the Santa Monica Museum of Art paid off handsomely for some partygoers. Ticket prices, after all, included the opportunity to win one of 25 original artworks.

With the Jan. 9 shindig marking Elsa Longhauser's 10th anniversary as executive director, artist George Herms pointed out the inscription, "for Elsa," on the mixed-media collage he donated for the occasion. Roger Herman, an expressionist painter, said he contributed a ceramic bowl because the museum had previously shown his ceramic pots. Collage artist Barbara Kruger incorporated into her digital print the invitation's 10 descriptive words for SMMoA, among them "authentic," "dynamic," "inventive" and "agile."

"Elsa has done a very precise program, showing some of the most remarkable artists whose work might have otherwise been overlooked," said Paul Schimmel, chief curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art. "And it hasn't been easy. She's done it by hook and by crook and she's kept it pure."

More than 300 artists and SMMoA supporters joined the party, including film directors Jan de Bont, Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris; actor Jonah Hill; MOCA President Jeffrey Soros and his wife, Catharine; and Billie Milam Weisman, director of the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation. SMMoA board members Peter Gelles, David Nochimson, Steve Buxbaum, Price Latimer Agah, Andrew Stearn, Jan Belson, Laura Donnelley, Charles Gaines, Kim McCarty, Bruce Samuels, Rosa Sinnott, Randi Malkin Steinberger and Philip Yenawine also attended.

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