MOCA Honors Artist Ed Ruscha at Annual Gala

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Owen Wilson and honoree Ed Ruscha attend the MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA
Owen Wilson and honoree Ed Ruscha attend the MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA

Photo Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for MOCA

Patrons and supporters of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles arrived at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA on Saturday evening to honor Ed Ruscha at its annual star-studded gala.

For this year’s event, the dining pavilion erected outside of The Geffen Contemporary was transformed into into an immersive setting remincent of Ed Ruscha’s Los Angeles-inspired “City Lights” paintings. The museum also showcased Balloon Dog (Magenta), and Balloon Dog (Yellow), a limited edition piece by Jeff Koons, produced by legendary French porcelain maker Bernardaud. Sold exclusively through MOCA, sales from this special edition have netted nearly $2 million to support the museum.

Maggie Kayne, actress Elizabeth Olsen, Rosetta Getty and actress Patricia Arquette
Maggie Kayne, actress Elizabeth Olsen, Rosetta Getty and actress Patricia Arquette

Photo Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for MOCA

The gala drew more than 700 international guests from the worlds of art, design, architecture, fashion, film, and music. In attendance were Gala Co-Chairs and Board Co-Chairs Lilly Tartikoff Karatz and Maurice Marciano, along with MOCA Director Philippe Vergne and his wife Sylvia Chivaratanond. Also in attendance was United States Venice Biennale representative Mark Bradford and artists Doug Aitken, John Baldessari, Llyn Foukes, Mark Grotjahn, Barbara Kruger, Lari Pittman, Catherine Opie, Kenny Scharf; MOCA trustees Wallis Annenberg, Eli and Edythe Broad, Kathi and Gary Cypres, Clifford and Mandy Einstein, Ari Emanuel, Aileen Getty, Mark and NJ Goldston, Adam Sender, Darren Star, Jeffrey Soros, and Dallas Price van Breda; collectors William and Maria Bell, Joy Venturi Bianchi, Irving and Jackie Blum, Christine Chiu and Dr. Gabriel Chiu, Michael and Eva Chow, Rosette  Delug, Ramiro and Gaby Garza, David and Susan Gersh, Brian Grazer, Jamie McCourt, Howard E. and Cindy Rachofksy, Stewart A. and Lynda Resnick, Darren Romanelli and Steve Roth.

Red carpet arrivals included actor Owen Wilson, who provided the voice over for the tribute film made for Ruscha, his brother actor Luke Wilson, actors James Marsden and Julian Morris; actresses Patricia Arquette, Elizabeth Olsen, Eiza González and Lisa Edelstein, chef Wolfgang Puck and Gelila Puck; socialite Nicky Hilton Rosthchild.

“It is a delight to thank all of the individuals who generously contibuted this year,” remarked Gala Co-Chair and Board Co-Chair Lilly Tartikoff Karatz. “It is through their passion, enthusiasm and commitment that MOCA has been able to once again make this event a fantastic, special occasion!”

Producer Brian Grazer and Veronica Smiley-Grazer
Producer Brian Grazer and Veronica Smiley-Grazer

Photo Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for MOCA

MOCA’s 37th Gala honored Los Angeles based artist Ed Ruscha. Ed Ruscha’s photography, drawing, painting, and artist books record the shifting emblems of American life in the last half-century. His deadpan representations of Hollywood logos, stylized gas stations, and archetypal landscapes distil the imagery of popular culture into a language of cinematic and typographical codes that are as accessible as they are profound. Ruscha’s wry choice of words and phrases, which feature heavily in his work, draw upon the moments of incidental ambiguity implicit in the interplay between the linguistic signifier and the concept signified. Although his images are undeniably rooted in the vernacular of a closely observed American reality, his elegantly laconic art speaks to more complex and widespread issues regarding the appearance, feel, and function of the world and our tenuous and transient place within it.

“It is with great pleasure that MOCA honors Ed Ruscha this year,” remarked MOCA Director Philippe Vergne. “For decades, Ruscha has proven to be among the most iconic, supremely influencial artists of our time and his involvement with the museum over the years has deepened MOCA’s commitment to being The Artists’ Museum. We are grateful for all Ed has contributed to art history, to Los Angeles, to MOCA.”

The evening began at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Downtown Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo. Don’t Look Back: The 1990s at MOCA, an exhibition curated by Helen Molesworth that surveys some of the most significant, large-scale works created in the 1990s from MOCA’s permanent collection that examine the nexus of race, gender and sexuality. The exhibition includes works by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Mona Hatoum, Christian Marclay, Catherine Opie, Cady Noland, Sarah Sze, and Paul McCarthy, among others. Guests also enjoyed an outdoor cocktail reception under the Frank Gehry-designed canopy., . Guests were offered a variety of hors d’oeuvres by Wolfgang Puck and presented Ruinart Rosé Champagne, and all lingered as long as they could outdoors thanks to the perfect spring weather.

MOCA Gala Co-Chair Maurice Marciano
MOCA Gala Co-Chair Maurice Marciano

Photo Credit: Donato Sardella/Getty Images for MOCA)

After cocktails, gala guests proceeded into a sparkling, fiber-optic adorned gala tent. The décor took inspiration from Ruscha’s iconic “City Lights” paintings, immersing guests into a dramatically lit, magical dinner setting complete with .

MOCA Board Co-Chairs and Gala Chairs Lilly Tartikoff Karatz and Maurice Marciano welcomed guests and thanked everyone for making the gala a tremendous success and the museum’s Board for their remarkable commitment to MOCA and its continued independence and its forward thinking and innovative programming.

Dinner continued and MOCA Director Philippe Vergne took to the stage to welcome and thank the many MOCA supporters and art patrons in attendance, whilst acknowledging Ed Ruscha’s significant contribution to contemporary art and driving home the important role that artists serve in our greater society.

MOCA Gala co-chair Lilly Tartakoff Karatz and MOCA Director Philippe Vergne
MOCA Gala co-chair Lilly Tartakoff Karatz and MOCA Director Philippe Vergne

Photo Credit: Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for MOCA

Following Vergne’s speech, the Museum delighted viewers with a special tribute film honouring Ed Ruscha and his legacy as an iconic Los Angeles-based contemporary artist. The film was voiced by actor and Ruscha’s long-time friend Owen Wilson and featured interviews with Ed Begley Jr, Irving Blum, Larry Gagosian, Kim Gordon and Ed Moses. Following the video, Ed Ruscha took the stage to express his gratitude. Ruscha’s remarks focused on the fact that MOCA is the artist’s museum, and said, “The reality if making this museum included not just city fathers and city mothers vut it also included artists which was a first in most museums.  They relied on artists advice for their mission.”

After dinner, Robin Thicke and his band took the stage and kept the crowd on it’s feet for a thirty minute set, concluding with his hit “Blurred Lines.” After dinner, guests mingled and danced until Midnight on the cocktail area which had been transformed into a nightclub under the starts complete with a dancefloor and more great entertainment by DJ Balthazar Getty.

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