1. Museum of Contemporary Art Gala
MOCA’s much-cooed-over galas are often works of art themselves. The October 2007 event honoring Takashi Murakami at the Geffen Contemporary included a performance by Kanye West and an appearance by honoree Marc Jacobs—along with a guest list full of art-, fashion-, and entertainment-world influencers. The exhibit went on to set opening-week attendance records.
2. Hammer Museum’s Gala in the Garden
Now five years old, the Hammer’s alfresco gala still feels intimate—although it hosted about 600 style-minded guests in 2007 (double the count from its first year) and raised $1 million. For the October event, the museum feted its first fashion-world honoree, Miuccia Prada.
3. Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s Late Night Party
Who says Angelenos don’t love culture? Blocks-long lines snaked in both directions for the June 2007 Lacma event, free and open to the public. The galleries were open, and 8,000 guests turned out to view the art on exhibit, including party-appropriate neon works by Dan Flavin. The party continues until 3 a.m., and kicks off Artscape, a weekend of free admission and programming.
4. Orange County Museum of Art’s Art of Dining Benefit
Every year, this 20-year-old O.C. social event honors an internationally known artist. The May 2007 event for 400 guests honored abstract painter Mary Heilmann and raised more than $500,000 for the museum. Cartier and Bentley were among the big-name sponsors. At the 2008 event on June 7, the museum will unveil plans for a new Costa Mesa building.
This is the Pacific Design Center’s design-focused event series. This year, from March 25 through 28, the design center will partner with Architectural Digest, with the mag’s editor in chief, Paige Rense, presenting the keynote. Westweek will house more than 100 showroom programs, exhibitions, and events.
6. Los Angeles Art Show
This prestigious and diverse annual show moved into its 13th year in 2008; it ran from January 23 through 27, with an opening-night gala benefiting the Art Museum Council of Lacma. At the 2007 show, more than $15 million worth of art was sold; 20,000 people attended the show, and 4,000 attended the gala.
7. San Diego Museum of Art’s Art Alive Benefit
The museum’s 27th annual springtime festival of art and flowers will take place April 11 through 13. The eye-candy-filled event features floral designers creating works inspired by those in the museum’s collection, and also includes a demonstration and other related programs.
8. Photo L.A.
Artfairs Inc. presented the 17th annual version of this event from January 10 to 13, 2008, at a new, larger location, Barker Hangar. This year’s show had a more modern look and included more digital and video, drawing 10,000 guests. The opening-night reception benefited the photography department at Lacma.
9. Pageant of the Masters
The Festival of Arts puts on this event—now in its 75th year—in which artists and live models imitate masterworks. An outdoor amphitheater, a live orchestra, an original score, narration, and intricate sets and lighting conspire to make the works come to life. This year’s festival will take place July 9 through August 30 in Laguna Beach.
10. ArtWalk San Diego
This annual spring event showcases more than 350 artists, making it the region’s largest outdoor art festival. Patrons take to the streets of San Diego’s Little Italy to watch entertainers and to meet the artists. Kids can also participate through KidsWalk, which offers family-friendly activities. The 2008 event will take place April 26 and 27.
11. Redondo Beach International Antiques Fair
Presented by Marty Ellis and the OSAT Company, this revered weekend fair will return to the Redondo Beach Performing Arts Center in July. The diverse exhibition of art and antiques includes works from ancient times through the 20th century, with pieces from Asia, Europe, and the Americas.
12. Art International
This eclectic fall fair in Pasadena presents Impressionist, modern, postwar, and contemporary art. After a brief stint in Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar, the fair moved to the Pasadena Center in October 2007. The four-day event begins with a gala preview. The OSAT Company produces.
13. Art L.A.
Los Angeles’s international contemporary art fair spotlights the area’s growing number of galleries, large and small; half of the fair’s 60 exhibitors are local. A preview reception benefiting the Hammer Museum took place on January 24; this year's fair ran from January 25 through 27 at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, produced by Artfairs Inc.
14. Venice Art Walk & Auctions
This annual celebration of art, architecture, music, and food benefits the Venice Family Clinic. This year’s event takes place on May 17 and 18. The series will include live music, green home and studio tours, and auctions.