On Thursday night, a fashion-forward boho crowd numbering well over 300 came together to preview the Santa Monica Museum of Art's highly anticipated eighth annual exhibition and benefit art sale, Incognito, which takes place tonight from 7 to 10 p.m. An art sale like no other, Incognito presents 697 8" x 10" size works that are all equally priced at $350.00 each, from a mix of renowned, mid-career and emerging artists. Each piece is signed on the back and buyers learn the identity of the artist only after purchase, meaning they could end up with something by an up-and-comer … or a work by the blue-chip artist John Baldessari. Some of the more famous contributors this year are Baldessari, Mark Bradford, Ed Ruscha, Devendra Banhart, Shepard Fairey, Ed Moses and Yoko Ono.
All proceeds from this event go to sustaining and growing the Santa Monica Museum of Art. For the first time ever, the museum hosted a preview gala, dubbed Precognito, honoring Wayne S. Blank, the founder of Bergamot Station, where the museum is located, philanthropist Eileen Harris Norton and artist Paul McCarthy.
For directing team Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris -- who have just completed their follow-up film to Little Miss Sunshine, entitled Ruby Sparks, written by and starring Zoe Kazan and her boyfriend Paul Dano -- Incognito is an art rave they treasure coming to each year. They circled the room noting pieces that they hope to pick up tonight when the sale commences. Others in attendance included Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen (who refused to talk to reporters), Shameless actors Emmy Rossum, Shanola Hampton and Tyler Jacob Moore and actor/producer/director Tony Bill.
Newbie collector Ben McKenzie, who stars on the TNT police drama Southland, first attended Incognito two years ago. "I bought my first few pieces and was hooked," he said.
Actress Perrey Reeves was elated that this year she could preview the art and hand pick some pieces for her young niece’s room. She also told THR that she had just completed building a yoga retreat in Costa Rica, the eco-rental estate Sanctuary at Two Rivers. "It took seven years to build and is finally opening," she said. When she's not working in L.A. she now resides most of the time in Costa Rica.
Prior to the Mediterranean dinner catered by Food by Lene, SMMoA Executive Director Elsa Longhauser welcomed the crowd and asked that all raise their glasses in a toast to recently departed artist Mike Kelley.
The biggest laugh of the evening was for artist Mark Bradford as he recounted his struggling years as a young artist. He remembered how touched he was by SMMoA benefactor Norton buying one of his early pieces and Bradford said he would have "curled her hair and washed her car" to express his gratitude. He then brought her to the stage for her award with the crowd giving her a five minute standing ovation in appreciation for her devotion to the museum.
Tickets for Incognito are available tonight at the door for $150. Santa Monica Museum of Art, Bergamot Station G1, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica