Glitzy LAXART Gala Draws Glamorous L.A. Crowd to Greystone
A who's who of the town's top artists, art supporters and fashionable industry friends partied under the night sky.
It was Lauri Firstenberg’s party and she’ll dip if she wants to. In the dark. Five times.
Cast in a blindfold and escorted by a mask-clad, masquerade-costumed guide, the director and curator of leading Los Angeles contemporary art nonprofit LAXART weaved her way through the expansive hallways and grounds of Greystone Mansion, passing by well-heeled revelers at her organization’s first biannual gala. The final destination? A pitch-black, mini-ballroom where art-as-dance became a full-body experience in trust, letting go and shuffled feet.
“It really blew my mind,” Firstenberg told The Hollywood Reporter of the performance piece by Liz Glynn titled Waltz No. 9 (Blindness), one of 30 new artworks and performances unveiled at Saturday's one-night-only affair. “It was bizarre and frightening and exhilarating and it was incredible. I got dipped five times and couldn't see a thing!"
Firstenberg was wide-eyed when she relayed that the fundraiser tallied an impressive “quarter of a million dollars” for LAXART thanks to the allure of emerging Tinseltown artists and performers surrounded by a sculpture exhibition, performances and a dance party led by the ever-expertly-crafted beats of celeb DJ Michelle Pesce. An expectant Zoe Saldana is married to one of those artists, Marco Perego, and the couple was joined inside the mansion by Busy Philipps, a pair of Hustons (Danny and Jack), Rose McGowan with artist hubby Davey Detail, Molly Shannon with artist hubby Fritz Chestnut, and Jodi Guber Brufsky.
Saldana was overheard speaking Italian to her husband while walking through Greystone’s intensely-lit kitchen, where guests devoured Sprinkles cupcakes, cookies and ice cream and gasped with glee over artist Matt Merkel Hess' Untitled (Me) self-portrait bread loafs spread across the wood countertops. (The flour-dusted loaves, wrapped in clear plastic, were in high-demand at night’s end after 10 p.m. by guests eager to leave with a cheeky parting gift).
Art supporters were out in full-force, including Eugenio Lopez, Lauren Taschen, Irene Neuwirth, Catharine and Jeffrey Soros, Kelsey Lee Offield, Charlie Pohlad and Darren and Candice Romanelli, all of whom mingled with big name artists including Alex Israel, Piero Golia, William Leavitt, Thomas Lawson, Jonas Wood and Shio Kusaka. The event, produced by Amy Bailie, was presented by Zoe with support from DAQRI, Diptyque, Shulamit Gallery and the City of Beverly Hills. The Hollywood Reporter served as a co-sponsor.
Arts supporter Liane Weintraub, joined at the bash by husband Richard, happily showed off her newest accessory - a circular medal on a long chain that she received to mark her accomplishment of facing her superstitious fears courtesy of a popular outdoor installation by Mattia Biagi that required the brave to walk under ladders and smash a mirror. “I felt oddly exhilarated,” she laughed.
McGowan was alternately serious when she said that the gala proves art in L.A. is alive and thriving. “We are a community of artists, we just forget that,” said the actress/director, clad in “punk chic” Ruffian dress. “Seeing so many people here tonight restores my faith that there is art in this city and it’s valid and worthwhile.”
Wearing a “bright, orangey-red” Preen dress, event chair Neuwirth agreed. “Los Angeles is finally a hub for up-and-coming artists,” she said during a chat next to Greystone’s infamous underground bowling alley. “And I’m really enamored by the fact that there is a waiting list for a real tattoo of a money sign.”
For the record, the waiting list required patience: At one point, eager-to-be-inked guests waited north of an hour for artist Joel Kyack’s The Dirty Poke Ain’t No Joke, which offered stick and poke tats of foreign currency.