LAXART Garden Party Draws Peter Friendlander, Molly Shannon to Support the Arts Non-Profit

Courtesy of David Wallace Crotty
Christine Nichols and Flora Wiegmann

“It really is just about who is sympathetic to our organization,” said LAXART director Lauri Firstenberg about the mingling celebrities at Sunday's fundraiser.

Nothing quite marks the summer in Los Angeles like the LA><ART Garden Party, now in its fifth year of bringing together artists, collectors, dealers, and celebrities for an afternoon of relaxing fun and fundraising. The Culver City non-profit is one of L.A.’s most intriguing art spaces, holding acclaimed exhibitions by artists like Brendan Fowler, Alex Israel and Glenn Kaino; working with the city on public art platforms — putting art on billboards around the city, for instance — and hosting family art workshops.

Held this year in the secluded, sprawling garden behind the Beverly Hills home of collectors and LA><ART board members Nick and Shana Grouf — Shana runs online TV aggregator — the party was lively and packed, with several artworks up for raffle, supporting the non-profit.

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“The Garden Party is because summer is slow, and it really helps keep the organization healthy in the summer,” said LA><ART director Lauri Firstenberg. “People love to come to an event and win an incredible work of art.”

The annual event always brings together the art world and its supporters, this year being no exception. Honorary host Hannah Simone mingled with industry vets like Peter Friedlander, Challen Cates, Adam Kantor and L.A. art world stalwarts like Museum of Contemporary Art director Philippe Vergne, Made in L.A. Biennial curator Michael Ned Holte, David Kordansky Gallery director Kurt Mueller, gallerist Shirley Morales from ltd Los Angeles, and artists Ry Rocklen and Cole Sternberg. Actress and art collector Molly Shannon and her painter husband Fritz Chesnut laughed about sharing a nanny with the hosts.

“It really is just about who is sympathetic to our organization,” said Firstenberg about the mingling celebrities. “The garden party has always been something that’s relaxed, open, and accessible. Collectors [who support us year-round] tend to be producers, directors, and writers, while talent tends to show up for the Garden Party.”

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LA><ART is gearing up for a big year, including the launch of their citywide program The Occasional, which Firstenberg referred to as the “unbiennial.” That will kick off with a show by artist Mark Boulos, whose past documentary-style work has garnered him critical acclaim, and whose project for LA><ART will focus on method acting. Also, 2015 is the 10-year anniversary of LA><ART, and there will be a series of programming and events centered around that.