“Are you coming to the afterparty?” Blum & Poe gallery director Matt Bangser asked designer Peter Pilotto at Thursday night’s private dinner honoring Takashi Murakami’s new show, ARHAT, at the massive Culver City gallery. Pilotto, who was in town from London for the British Fashion Council’s twice-yearly showroom event this week, had to be up early for a sales clinic at Saks but decided to rally anyway. After all, it isn’t every day that one gets to throw back a beer with one of the leading contemporary artists in the world.
Murakami — who is perhaps best known en masse for his anime-inspired Louis Vuitton collaboration in 2002 and Kanye album cover in 2007 — has had quite the busy week himself, premiering his first feature-length film, Jellyfish Eyes, at LACMA on Monday and hosting another private preview of his Buddhism-inspired solo show Tuesday.
“Jeff and I have been watching this thing come into being for 10, 12 years or more. That’s really his lifelong dream, in many ways, to come into reality,” said Blum & Poe co-owner Tim Blum of Murakami’s film, a CGI-infused children’s story that centers on a karate-performing jellyfish.
From left: Co designers Justin Kearn and Stephanie Danan; Miranda July.
The show, which runs through May 25 and is his sixth with Blum & Poe, is largely infused with the somber undertones of his country’s 3.11 earthquake/tsunami/nuclear meltdown disaster. But Thursday night’s dinner (and subsequent afterparty) showed no signs of solemnness, with cultural luminaries including Renzo Rosso, Miranda July, former MOCA curator Paul Schimmel and Michael and Eva Chow nibbling on crispy pig’s head from Animal and taking pictures of a massively busty Murakami-made sculpture hovering above intimate raw wood dining tables and flickering oil candlelight on the gallery’s airy second floor.
“This is just unreal on many levels,” Blum said.
After the artist shook hands with Animal chefs Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo and the last Heath Ceramics-made dinner plates had been cleared, a select number of revelers stumbled across the street to Mandrake, the tiny, dark, L.A. art world-favored bar where 32 of Murakami’s painting staff — whom he had flown in from Tokyo as a gift — awaited the party’s arrival.
At Eva Chow’s suggestion, the gallery brought in another artist to provide entertainment at the bar — Lil Buck, the Memphis-born dancer who has toured with Madonna and frequently performs with Yo-Yo Ma. As Buck — clad in a studded pony-hair baseball cap — bent and twisted his body like a molten rod of steel, Murakami watched with wide eyes of pure delight.
“I love that!” he squealed as soon as Lil Buck was done doing his thing.
Soon Stones Throw Records founder Peanut Butter Wolf took to the turntables, the crowd started to thin and – as any standard, tired bargoer who was ready to call it a night — Murakami did a classic Irish exit and ducked out without giving goodbyes.
Peter Pilotto, who had debated stopping by the party in the first place, simply watched, smiled and continued his conversation.
Through May 25 at Blum & Poe, 2727 S. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles. blumandpoe.com