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Friday, July 01, 2011


C goes behind the scenes for the star-studded private parties and auction gala at LACMA's collectors committee weekend.

Three years ago, Napa Valley vintner and current LACMA Collectors Committee Chair Ann Colgin (of Colgin Cellars) inaugurated a series of dinners with a handful of world-renowned California chefs, winemakers and surprise performances.

They are lavish lobbying affairs - but not the political kind. At the homes of Colgin's fellow museum board members, the private events are a welcome addition to LACMA's Collectors Committee weekend (the museum's largest annual fund-raiser). Throughout its 26-year history, the Collectors Committee has helped to secure more than 177 new works as a result of donations in excess of $23 million. These two days not only play a pivotal role in acquiring significant pieces of art but are also a unique opportunity for patrons to have a direct hand in shaping LACMA's permanent collection.

On Friday, April 15th, nearly 200 art enthusiasts were invited into seven of L.A.'s most incredible residences to be wined and dined. (Thomas Keller, Mario Batali and Ludovic Lefebvre were but three of the evening's stars). Conversation over dinner was about the following day's presentations, where each of the museum's curators would have five minutes to petition on behalf of the piece for which he or she was advocating.

Bright and early the next morning, curators and patrons mingled over a light breakfast at LACMA's Lynda and Stewart Resnick Exhibition Pavilion before viewing and debating the nine works. At sundown, the guests returned for the evening's gala - and with their minds made up. At BCAM, after Champagne and canapés they were ushered through Richard Serra's Sequence for a four-course dinner (prepared by Joachim Slical of Patina) and live auction of art by photographers such as Catherine Opie and Robert Mapplethorpe.

This was the warm-up for the final moment, when the 83 voting members were asked to plug their top three chocies into electronic pads. And just like that, Ai Weiwei's Untitled (Divine Proportion), an ancient Head of Buddha and Craig Kauffman's Untitled became a part of LACMA forever. With the remaining funds, Juan Patricio Morlete Ruiz's three Casta paintings were also added. The generosity of a few members brought the final number to eight: Trustee Camilla Chandler Frost bought an ancient Peruvian textile; an anonymous donor secured a painted panel from Mexico; Steve Tisch purchased Christian Marclay's The Clock; and Kelvin Davis dedicated Donald Judd's Prototype Desk.

 By Jenn Murray Hooks