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Launch party celebrates upcoming Art of Dining

SCR'S “Moby Dick”: Mae De La Barre, Anthony Fleming III (Queequeg) and Sandy Segerstrom Daniels

“We’re here to celebrate art!” Orange County Museum of Art director and CEO Todd D. Smith told the stylish crowd attending the midday kickoff celebration for the museum’s annual Art of Dining, set for May 20 at Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

Staged at the art-splashed manse of Russian artist and former model Marina Arnott, the launch party featured flowing Veuve Clicquot, gourmet appetizers and the opportunity to view Art of Dining sponsor Louis Vuitton’s cutting-edge fashions and V-accented accessories.

“Marina’s work as an artist and a collector surrounds you,” said Smith as he thanked Arnott for inviting the gala committee into her home. He also acknowledged Vuitton’s fourth stint as presenting sponsor of the premier foodie event for the county’s visual arts scene.

Sporting a one-of-a-kind Vuitton fashion masterpiece – a bespangled A-line frock dubbed an “extraordinaire” by the luxury goods designer – Arnott said it was “a pleasure to welcome Art of Dining patrons” into her Corona del Mar home.

During his remarks, Smith announced that Beijing-based artist Sun Xun will be the museum gala’s honoree, noting, “He’s one of the Chinese stars!” Combining meticulous craftsmanship with stylistic experimentation across media, Sun’s work has been shown at OCMA, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Guggenheim and the Yuz Museum in Shanghai.

Art of Dining tickets are $1,250 each. For more information, visit ocma.net.

PSO Chinese New Year: The Year of the Rooster has already brought good luck to the Pacific Symphony. During its Chinese New Year celebration and concert, symphony President John Forsyte announced that the orchestra, led by maestro Carl St.Clair, had been invited for the first time to perform at Carnegie Hall in New York in honor of one of today’s leading composers, Philip Glass. (A trip is being planned next season for symphony lovers who want to attend. Stay tuned.)

Guests at the New Year celebration, co-chaired by Charlie and Ling Zhang, sampled a formal five-course feast on the second-tier lobby of the Segerstrom Concert Hall, with delicacies including duck bao, five-spice rare beef and Chilean sea bass with miso. Afterward, they convened in the orchestral hall to be serenaded with selections such as the “Butterfly Lovers Concerto” (accompanied by UCI Dance), Debussy’s “Clair de Lune” and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9.

“Tonight we celebrate the first in what will be an annual celebration of the Chinese New Year, and it is wonderful that it is sold out!” Forsyte said. “Thank you Charlie and Ling from the bottom of our hearts.” Guests departed with an artful keepsake, a small sculptured rooster fashioned by Liuli at South Coast Plaza.

California Cool: So much art, so little time. Bidding on works of art donated by more than 100 California artists, collectors raced from gallery to gallery during silent bidding at the Laguna Art Museum’s California Cool art auction, then raised their paddles in a live auction to rake in more than $366,000 in support of the museum’s exhibitions and education programs.
It all began with leisurely cocktails – some inventively non-alcoholic – hors d’oeuvres and the art of conversation. Then, as the crowd grew, the museum heated up and so did the bidding. Highlighting the live auction was eager paddle raising for Lita Albuquerque’s “Emanation,” John Baldessari’s “Octagon” and Andy Moses’ “Morphology 725.” Other notable live-auction works included artist Ed Ruscha’s illustrated book, “On The Road,” inspired by Jack Kerouac. If museum Executive Director Malcolm Warner had his way, he said, he would receive Ruscha’s artful tome for a birthday gift. “It’s wonderful.”

Dressing Downton: With the theme music of the wildly popular PBS television series “Downton Abbey” playing hauntingly in the background, more than 300 patrons of Muzeo (that’s Esperanto for museum) gathered for its 10th anniversary, black-tie, gala dinner and tour of its new, elegantly staged exhibit, “Dressing Downton: Changing Fashions for Changing Times.”

“We have a huge slice of television history right in the middle of Orange County,” said Dan Finley, executive director of Muzeo in Anaheim. “The show was a time capsule of the passing of great Victorian traditions to modern times. We’re delighted.”

Everywhere guests looked, there were fashionable memories of the widely acclaimed series: Cora’s silk day dress and large rimmed hat, Mary’s green silk evening gown with glittering starbursts, Edith’s grosgrain coat edged with silk embroidery, even the dowager countess’ stately green satin with an overdress of black chiffon.

The traveling exhibit, which made its American debut at the Biltmore Estate in North Carolina, features vignettes showcasing 45 costume and jewelry pieces accompanied by blown-up photographs and explanatory notes, quotes and anecdotes from the Masterpiece series.

“Moby Dick” at SCR: How do you celebrate the opening night of the acclaimed Lookingglass Theatre’s stage adaptation of novelist Herman Melville’s 19th-century classic, “Moby-Dick”?  If you’re South Coast Repertory, you toss a whale of a party.

A seafaring menu of crispy fish filets, steaming clam chowder and a signature drink, The Great White Whale – a heady combo of vodka, kahlua and cream – were on deck for the hundreds of first-nighters who sailed into the Westin South Coast Plaza’s ballroom after the two-hour tour de force on Segerstrom Stage.

SCR managing director Paula Tomei credited the generosity of the play’s honorary producers, Sandy Segerstrom Daniels and Bill and Carolyn Klein, for the ambitiously staged production. “We’re so grateful for their leadership and generous commitment,” Tomei said.

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