The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles continues fundraising success

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By James MacLean




LOS ANGELES—Patrons of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles turned out in droves this Saturday to support the museum at its annual star-studded gala, which grossed $2.5 million. The gala’s success comes on the heels of the Board of Trustees’ announcement that it has received commitments that raise the endowment to $75 million toward the goal of boosting the museum’s endowment to an initial $100 million.

The museum gala celebrated the opening of the first major U.S. museum retrospective of works by internationally acclaimed Swiss-born artist Urs Fischer, and is the first time an exhibition by a living artist has been presented at both MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA.


MOCA’s gala drew hundreds of international guests from the worlds of art, design, architecture, fashion, film, politics and music. In attendance were Gala Chairs Maria Arena Bell and Eli Broad accompanied by their respective spouses Bill Bell, and Edythe Broad, Stephanie & Peter Brant, Ariel & Sarah Emanuel, Larry Gagosian, Eugenio Lopez, Maurice Marciano and Peter Morton, Dinner Chairs NancyJane & Mark Goldston, Carolyn Powers and Lilly Tartikoff Karatz & Bruce Karatz, Honorary Co-Chairs Dan Aloni, Jim Berkus, Irving & Jackie Blum, Eva & Michael Chow, Mandy & Cliff Einstein, Suzanne & David Johnson, Amalia Dayan & Adam Lindemann, Margaret and Dan Loeb, Rosette Delug, Dallas Price-Van Breda & Bob van Breda, Steven Roth & Kaayla Cevan, Carla & Fred Sands, Catharine Soros, Elham and Tony Salamé, Darren Star, Maria Seferian, Benjamin and Jennifer Silverman, Pamela Skaist-Levy and Jefery Levy, Lauren Taschen together with MOCA Trustees Chip Conlan, Laurent Degryse, Susan and David Gersh, Michael Harrison, Audrey Irmas, Steven Mnuchin, Sutton Stracke, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Councilman Herb Wesson, and Orna Amir Wolens. Red carpet arrivals of Hollywood celebrities, prominent figures in the art and entertainment fields, fashion icons, and renowned international and Los Angeles artists and art luminaries included: Doug Aitken, Edgar Arcenaux, Harry Brant, Tim Blum, Lizzi Bougatsos of Gang Gang Dance, Mark Bradford, Gavin Brown, Christine & Gabriel Chiu, China Chow, Dan Colen, Sadie Coles, Jeff Curry, Kyle DeWoody, Brendan Dugan, Jesse Dylan, Lisa Edelstein, Lisa Eisner, Ant Genn, Shepard Fairey, Urs Fischer, Danny Fuller, Cyprien Gaillard, Suzanne Geiss, Aileen Getty, Liz Goldwyn, Brian Grazer, Alan Hergott & Curt Shephard, Jennifer Herrema, Lady Victoria Hervey, Victoria Duffy Hopper, Thomas Houseago, Elliott Hundley, Alex Israel, Chris Johanson & Jo Jackson, Ben Jones, Miranda July, Miriam Katz, Bettina Korek, George Kotsiopoulos, Giada De Laurentiis, Malerie Marder, Nancy & Howard Marks, Barry McGee & Clare Rojas, Tobias Meyer, Jarl & Pam Mohn Anita and Mark Mothersbaugh, Laura Mulleavy, Vivi Nevo, Stavros Niarchos, Timothy Olyphant, Laura Owens, Ellen Pompeo, Paige Powell, Rob Pruitt, Wolfgang Puck & Gelilia Assefa, Charlotte Rampling, Shaun Caley Regen, Retna, Terry Richardson, Amanda Ross-Ho, Scott Rothkopf, David Salle, André Saraiva, Julian Schnabel, Tony Shafrazi, Eckhard Schneider, Rick Ruben, Sumner Redstone, Lara Schnitger, Cameron Silver, Hedi Slimane, Josh Smith, Dean Spunt & Randy Randall of No Age, Craig Stecyk, Tara Subkoff, Jennifer Tilly, Steve Tisch, Gus Van Sant, Owen Wilson and Neville Wakefield.

“The success of this year’s gala demonstrates the extraordinary and growing support for the museum from around the world and in Los Angeles”, said MOCA board co-chair and gala chair Maria Arena Bell, “MOCA has set a standard among museum galas for once in a lifetime artist-directed experiences. To coincide with the opening of Urs Fischer’s major retrospective at MOCA, artist Rob Pruitt brilliantly conceived a cultural mash up of various things we expect at parties to create a truly unexpected, and entertaining celebration of Fischer’s work at MOCA.”

In mid-March, the museum’s board of trustees launched a new fundraising campaign to boost the endowment to at least $100 million. Co-chaired by Board President Jeffrey Soros and long-time trustee Eugenio Lopez, the campaign boosted the endowment from $22 million to more than $75 million in just four weeks through commitments ranging from $1 million to $10 million from more than 20 current and former trustees and MOCA patrons.

Entitled YESSSSS!, the gala was envisioned with creative direction by artist Rob Pruitt as a “culture” or “power” clash of mismatched ideas, complementing Urs Fischer’s propensity to bridge the banal and the fantastical through unexpected combinations. The collage-style evening mash up, where nothing worked with anything and everything had its place, began at Grand Avenue with a private preview of the exhibition Urs Fischer, a reception with cocktails provided by Russian Standard Vodka and a special performance by Los Angeles band No Age. After previewing the exhibition at Grand Avenue, guests boarded shuttles presenting a video by artist Cheech Marin giving an impromptu pottery lesson filmed while he was making clay sculptures for the exhibition, as they headed to The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA for dinner and performances and a continuing preview of Fischer’s expansive sculpture installation presenting thousands of clay works made by the artist with the help of 1,500 people in L.A.

The Geffen building was transformed by a variety of incongruous, fantastical and absurd images. More than 650 gala guests were seated, donning Hawaiian leis, at Italian trattoria style tables covered in red and white checked table cloths with Chianti bottle drip candles. Centerpieces included bong vases with hemp, Rob Pruitt napkins covered in seemingly drug-induced doodles and waiters wearing t-shirts with phrases from a poem by artist Marc Hundley, that when taken together said “Amazing things/Are happening/In this world.” Burly men dressed as angels floated above the dinner guests, suspended from scissor lifts usually reserved for the installation of artwork and lights, while the music that filtered through the room included bird calls, whale songs, and the sounds of thunder and rain. The ambiance was occasionally punctuated by the flurry of dollar bills that exploded from a nearby money cannon. In keeping with the pomp of the evening, a special Ferrari valet area was available at both locations to accommodate guests arriving via Ferrari.

Video projections streamed across the walls over the course of the evening, alternating between images of the latest YouTube sensations, Internet cat memes, how-to videos, deep sea creatures, wild life documentaries, and a “Wolfgang-Puck-making-dinner” video. The outdoor lounge area, awash in underwater projections, was located conveniently close to the smoking area and a “4/20 buffet,” which included stoner favorites like hot dogs, mac and cheese, pizza, Chinese food, and a never-ending supply of junk food. The marijuana leaf logo featured prominently on the menus and on glittery pillows and throw blankets that adorned the beds and lounge chairs for guests to recline on during the night.

Festivities continued with Renaissance Fair characters in costume, a goat petting zoo, and a giant panda directing the way to the restrooms. Guests had their pick between the taffy making area, the goat milk creamery, and an old-fashioned cotton candy machine spinning candy onto glowsticks. Smokey the Bear welcomed smokers to the smoking section and guests lined up to make their own digital flip books, many of whom donned the outlandish costumes and props that were on hand for them to have their fun. Guests sipped on fresh juice bar cocktails and wheatgrass shots while watching a bevy of hula dancers perform.

A Parisian Style Bistro dinner courtesy of Wolfgang Puck Catering, included a first course of a frisee salad with julienne of bacon, poached egg, brioche croutons and sherry mustard vinaigrette, along with an assortment of Wolfgang Puck breads, rolls and lavosh with sweet butter. The first course had barely finished when the entire USC Trojans Marching Band took over the hall. Led by their baton twirler, and book-ended by tireless cheerleaders, the entire band in sunglasses marched between the many tables. By the time they filtered out of the hall, all of the guests were clapping and cheering. Accompanying the main course of a duo of roasted chicken with jus, grilled New York steak, roasted asparagus, frites and lyonnaise potatoes complimented by Wolfgang Puck Private Label wine, were musical performances by Mark Mothersbaugh, one of the most unique, subversive, and prolific composers and artists of the era who played the organ and synthesizer, and stand up and comedy appearances by Nick Kroll, Kumail Nanjiani and soap star and patch-clad Steven Nichols. The highlight of the evening came as legendary American sweethearts and pop superstars The Go-Go’s took the stage with a barefoot Belinda Carlisle, and brought all guests to their feet. Artists, trustees, politicians, and celebrities rubbed shoulders as the dancing began to hit song “We Got the Beat.”

A vast spread of desserts, including an Ice Cream Sundae Bar, Spring Inspired French Macaroons, Mini Coffee Eclairs, Raspberry Creme Brulee Tarts, and Apple Tarte Tatin were devoured outside under the Geffen canopy strung with disco balls. The after-party with performances by Jennifer Herrema and Black Bananas, and comedian Rory Scovel did in fact bring the guests to their feet once again dancing and chatting until late into the evening. Guests seemed loath to go home, avoiding the valet and shuttle services until the very last moment.

IMAGES: YESSSS! MOCA Gala 2013 celebrating the opening of the exhibition Urs Fischer at MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, Saturday, April 20, 2013, Los Angeles, photos by David X Prutting/

Event images may be requested from Getty Images and Billy Farrell Agency.

One of today’s most important contemporary artists, Fischer is known for using a range of media to express the transience of art and, concomitantly, the human condition. Jessica Morgan, Curator, International Art, at Tate Modern in London, is curating the exhibition, which will occupy both MOCA Grand Avenue and The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, from April 21, 2013, to August 19, 2013. Presenting his work of the last decade, the show will bring together for the first time Fischer’s many iconic works from leading international collections as well as recent productions and a special installation made by the artist with the help of 1500 people in LA. Each MOCA location will have a distinct character and approach responding and adapting to the unique spaces of the museum. Fischer will weave together the storyline of his work: skeletons will meet movie stars, toys will greet grave-like holes, and our accustomed sense of disinterested distance will be simultaneously embraced and destroyed.

Founded in 1979, MOCA’s mission is to be the defining museum of contemporary art. The institution has achieved astonishing growth in its brief history—with three Los Angeles locations of architectural renown; more than 10,000 members; a world-class permanent collection of nearly 6,700 works international in scope and among the finest in the nation; hallmark education programs that are widely emulated; award-winning publications that present original scholarship; and groundbreaking monographic, touring, and thematic exhibitions of international repute that survey the art of our time. MOCA is a private not-for-profit institution supported by its members, corporate and foundation support, government grants, and retail and admission revenues. For 24-hour information on current exhibitions, education programs, and special events, call 213/626-6222 or access MOCA online at

Since he emerged on the New York art scene in the late ‘80s, Rob Pruitt’s risk-taking investigations into American popular culture have taken many forms. From his notorious Cocaine Buffet (1998) and glitter portraits of pandas to such events as his ongoing Flea Market and Annual Art Awards, and a silvered Andy Warhol monument on public view, Pruitt has employed a post-Pop sensibility to playfully satirize the art world and its ambivalent relation to celebrity and popular culture. Pruitt’s diverse oeuvre made with his particular brand of iconoclastic humor and visual exuberance stays true to the spirit of disruption that has long been central to his practice. His first American survey, Rob Pruitt: An American Folk Artist, will be presented at the Aspen Art Museum May 3–July 14, 2013.

Formed in Los Angeles in 1978, The Go-Go’s made history as the first all-female band that both wrote their own songs and played their own instruments to top the Billboard album charts.

From their halcyon days as America’s sweethearts, to their current status as superstars who pioneered a genre, the internationally-loved pop hit-makers including classic line up of lead singer and 80′s pop icon Belinda Carlisle, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock and Jane Wiedlin, helped cement the foundation of the early 80′s pop-rock sound without the aid of outside composers, session players or creative compromise, and soared to become a pop phenomenon, while having a lot of fun and blazing a brand-new trail for the DIY ethic in general, and women in music in particular.

The band rose to fame during the early 1980s with a debut album, Beauty and the Beat, considered as one of the cornerstone albums of US new wave, breaking barriers and paving the way for a host of other new American acts. The album reached number one in the Billboard 200 chart, and reached triple platinum status, making it one of the most successful debut albums ever. Three decades later, The Go-Go’s continue to deliver every bit of the raw energy of their now-legendary punk beginnings.

Mark Mothersbaugh is one of this era’s most unique and prolific composers and artists. His subversive nature is present within both his music and artwork. Deeply aware of the ability of precise, multi-faceted artistic expression to deliver vital social commentary, he has perpetually challenged and redefined musical and visual boundaries.

With DEVO, his most successful music project, Mark was able to showcase his artistic abilities on a larger scale, and to millions of people. Through their films, videos, costumes, LP covers, stage shows, and printed materials, Mark and DEVO forever altered commonly held preconceptions of how a rock band should function in popular culture.

As an award winning composer and prolific artist, Mark Mothersbaugh is one of this generations biggest pop culture figures.

Formed in 2005 and based in Los Angeles, No Age is a two-person experimental punk group consisting of guitarist Randy Randall and drummer/vocalist Dean Allen Spunt. They played their first show at the New Image Art gallery and continue to have strong ties to the art world.

In 2010, No Age performed a live score at the RedCat Theatre in Los Angeles for the film Aanteni, directed by Todd Cole for the fashion designers Rodarte. In 2011 the band accompanied video artist Doug Aitken and actress Chloe Sevigny to Greece to perform the multimedia installation piece Black Mirror, supported by the DESTE Foundation and the Greek Festival. They also made a zine called Reality Problems, that was commissioned by the Los Angeles art book and clothing store Ooga Booga for their booth at the New York Art Book Fair; and made a soundtrack and installation piece for MOCAʼs exhibition Hedi Slimane California Song presented at MOCA Pacific Design Center.

Last year No Age released the Collage Culture 12″ on Post Present Medium, A soundtrack to readings of excerpts from the book Collage Culture, written by Aaron Rose, Mandy Kahn and designed by Brian Roettinger published by JRP-Ringier. No Age are currently working on their fourth album for Sub Pop Records.

Jennifer Herrema has been helping to define the underground rock scene since her teen years in the late 1980′s constantly pushing forward both her music and her style. Herrema is a singer, song writer, record producer, artist and model best known for her work as one half of the influential rock band Royal Trux, which she constantly reinvented before releasing three albums under the name RTX. She is a pioneer of comprehensive non-exclusive opposition rock and Black Bananas, performing with Brian Mckinley and Kurt Midness, is the latest addition to her oeuvre.

Miriam Katz has organized exhibitions and performances for MoMA PS1, The Kitchen, Art21, and Columbia University. Her curatorial work has been reviewed in publications such as The New Yorker, The Village Voice, and Bomb. She has written for publications including Artforum, Bookforum, and Flash Art, and has been a visiting critic at Columbia University, New York University, and Bard CCS. Katz currently works as a writer and researcher for Artforum and is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Art History from Hunter College. Her podcast, “Breakdown,” features interviews with both comedians and visual artists (

Comedian Nick Kroll created and currently stars in the Comedy Central series Kroll Show. He can also be seen on FX’s The League. In 2011, Kroll recorded an hour-long special for Comedy Central, “Thank You Very Cool.” The comedian has also appeared in the films Get Him to the Greek, Dinner for Schmucks, Date Night, and I Love You Man. He has written for Chappelle’s Show, and Human Giant, and is the author of the best-selling book Bar Mitzvah Disco. Kroll was featured on Comedy Central’s “Hot List of ’09″ and was voted one of Variety’s “Ten Comics to Watch.”

Kumail Nanjiani is a stand-up comedian and writer who has appeared on Conan, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with David Letterman, and Jimmy Kimmel. He has been featured in Variety ‘s “Ten Comics to Watch,” Hollywood Reporter’s “Ten Rising Comedy Talents” and New York Magazine s “Ten Comedians that Funny People Find Funny.” Nanjiani currently stars on TNT’s Franklin & Bash, appears as a recurring character on IFC’s Portlandia, and will appear on the upcoming season of HBO’s VEEP. The comedian recently filmed a one-hour Comedy Central Special set to air this May.

Stand-up Comedian Rory Scovel has been featured at the Just For Laughs festival in Montreal, the Bridgetown Comedy Festival, Bumbershoot, and Bonnaroo. His Comedy Central Half Hour premiered last May. Scovel has appeared on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, and Conan. He can also be seen on episodes of MTV’s Zach Stone Is Gonna Be Famous. He stand-up album, Dilation, was released in 2011. Scovel is currently starring in the upcoming TBS sitcom The Ground Floor.

Russian Standard Vodka is the world’s #1 premium Russian vodka. The Russian Standard Vodka portfolio leads the premium segment in Russia with a 50 percent market share and sales of over 2.9 million cases worldwide in 2012. Roustam Tariko, the founder of Russian Standard, introduced Russian Standard Vodka in 1998 as the first authentic Russian premium vodka. A mere two years after Russian Standard Vodka launched in Russia, the brand’s sales surpassed all imported premium vodkas, leading to broad international expansion as well as the launches of Russian Standard Platinum in 2001, Imperia Vodka in 2004, and Russian Standard Gold in 2008. Now the Russian Standard Vodka portfolio has grown to reach more than 75 markets across Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa. All Russian Standard Vodka products are kosher. Most recently, Russian Standard Vodka was awarded the IMPACT “2012 Hot Brand” and Beverage Dynamics “2013 Growth Brands” awards for its 2012 US performance.

Creative Direction Robb Pruitt

Event Produced by Carleen Cappelletti and Bounce-AEG

Comedy Curator Miriam Katz

Menu by Wolfgang Puck Catering

Event coordinated by Levy, Pazanti & Associates

Special thanks to Russian Standard Vodka



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James MacLean

About James MacLean

Inspirational, accomplished and passionate. Those are just a few words to describe luxury marketing guru James MacLean, who has transformed the celebrity product placement industry through events such as GRAMMY’S /Latin Grammy's, Nickelodeon’s Kids’ Choice Awards, American Country Music Awards, Golden Globes, Spike TV Video Game Awards, BET Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Sundance Film Festival and Grand Prix Monaco. He continues to set the pace and raise the bar in only the most glamorous settings around the globe.