Ricki Lake, A-List Designers Fete A+D Museum's Surf-and-Skate-Themed Gala

Jordan Riefe

The annual event featured surfboards and skateboards by celebrated designers Karim Rashid and Don Chadwick.

It was surf’s up at the A+D Museum’s annual gala Saturday night as the little engine that could on Miracle Mile's Museum Row offered bikini models and surfer dudes prowling the catwalk for overheated partygoers. They carried surfboards and skateboards by designers like Richard Meier Partners Karim Rashid, and Don Chadwick, designer of Herman Miller’s Aeron Chair.

Dubbed “Groundswell,” the event spread evenly over the foyer of 5900 Wilshire, the 1971 office tower designed by William L. Pereira and Associates, and the exterior courtyard overlooking Chris Burden’s Urban Light across the street at LACMA. KCRW’s Raul Campos spun tunes under the stars for designers, architects and enthusiasts like Ricki LakeMillion Dollar Listing realtor Madison Hildebrand and Keanu Reeves.

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According to museum director Tibbie Dunbar, last year’s fundraiser netted almost $100,000, but she’s cautiously optimistic this year’s will bring in more. The A+D Museum is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, which means it survives primarily on sponsor money, ticket sales and the gala fundraiser.

In recent years events such as these have become more vital than ever. Since its 2001 origins in downtown’s Bradbury Building, the A+D Museum was on a nine-year nomadic trek throughout the city before finally settling at its current address in 2010. A little over a year later they learned their building was being taken over by Metro Rail whose Wilshire/Fairfax Station is scheduled to open in 2019.

“When we first found out in 2011, it was one of those 'when-I-regain-consciousness' moments,” Dunbar tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Now it seems we’re on to bigger and better opportunities. We’re talking to developers. We’re in conversation with the A.I.A. [American Institute of Architects], the Los Angeles chapter, about being part of the creation of a larger center for architecture and design.”

Past exhibits at the A+D Museum include a show on furniture by Richard Neutra and a look at the work of futurist architect Eero Saarinen. A recent show on midcentury bowling alleys was a modest hit for the institution, and presently they’re displaying works by Los Angeles’ emerging designers.

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Outside in the courtyard, away from the surfboards and skimpily clad models, artist Gregory Adamson whipped up a painting for auction in a quick 12 minutes as partygoers looked on. He started with a large black canvas and used two brushes to slather on swaths of eggshell blue and violet. It seemed like nothing much until suddenly he flipped the image and a portrait of Jimi Hendrix wowing the crowd at Woodstock materialized. It was a neat trick that earned the crowd’s approbation but ultimately was just a gimmick.

Dunbar knows it will take more than gimmicks to keep the A+D Museum operating, but she’s optimistic. “We’ve had a lot of growth in support in membership and the community in this, yet another challenging year. So we thought we would pick up on the theme of groundswell of support and membership and growing programs,” explains Dunbar about the night’s surf-and-skate motif. “But what we really wanted was something fun for people to create.”