THE BLOG
05/18/2016 04:37 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

MOCA's Gala Supports "The Artists' Museum"

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Luke Wilson, Danna Ruscha, and Ed Ruscha. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by David X. Prutting/BFA.com

This year's MOCA gala happened at the Geffen Contemporary last Saturday, and it was good. They honored Ed Ruscha for his incomparable career, they raised a lot of money ($3 million or so), the food and wine were amazing, they did this really cool thing where they kind of made a tent out of Ed Ruscha paintings, Philippe Vergne did this wonderful quasi-spoken word piece during his speech based on Ruscha's text paintings, Owen Wilson narrated a hilarious and brilliant short film tribute to Ruscha featuring Kim Gordon, Ed Moses, and Larry Gagosian and Irving Blum, and everyone had a really fun time. By the end of the night, people literally kicked off their shoes and danced. Balthazar Getty was DJing. Among the guests were film and television stars, powerful producers and directors, studio heads, full-time philanthropists, and a general panoply of LA's well-heeled and sparkling hometown nobles. It was a society gala. It was good.

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MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Emanuele D'Angelo/BFA.com

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Balthazar Getty. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by David X. Prutting/BFA.com

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Aileen Getty. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by David X. Prutting/BFA.com

This page has huge, eternal respect to the patrons, who are literally the pillars on which our cultural institutions are built, and without whose generosity places like MOCA could not exist -- as well as to the celebrities who lent their shimmer to the proceedings, helping events like this make the papers beyond the art realm, and thus spread the word about the evolving, ambitious, and exciting programs at the museum. This is good.

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MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Emanuele D'Angelo/BFA.com

That said, the best part of the gala was not the caviar and it wasn't even the silver-screen glam factor. It was that there were literally about five times as many artists as movie stars walking the step & repeat. It was a night where the artists' names were printed in bold type. It was the artists that everyone was there to see, to meet, and because, the internet, to be photographed with. The fact that so many of LA's most interesting and respected, established and younger artists came out to support and be supported by MOCA not only made for a much more lively affair than most fundraisers of its scale -- but also spoke directly to the good will once again growing at the venerable institution from within the art world. This was a night about LA celebrating itself, our own artists, our own patrons, galleries, curators and collectors. Mr. Chow was there, okay? Talk about an LA institution!

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Michael Chow and Eva Chow. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by John Salangsang/BFA.com

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MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Emanuele D'Angelo/BFA.com

Of course it was still an expensive ticket, and the majority of artists -- like the majority of people -- can't afford to spring for them. Nevertheless, the artist roster included many more shades of blue-chip than one might think; many chips were not blue yet at all. Were they the guests of the museum or other institutions? MOCA Director Philippe Vergne's museum colleagues turned out in force to support their cousin -- LACMA's Michael Govan and the Hammer's Annie Philbin, ersatz MOCA icon Paul Schimmel, SMMOA's -- I mean, ICALA's -- Elsa Longhauser, the Broads, the Gettys. Were the artists the guests of their collectors, of their galleries -- folks like Gagosian, Kordansky, Hauser Wirth & Schimmel, Shulamit Nazarian, Blum & Poe, Maggie Kayne, and more were out in force. There was no way to tell just by looking; a sea of tuxedos and eccentric takes on the concept of "black tie" lifts all boats in that way.

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MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by David X. Prutting/BFA.com

Among the artists in question were: Mark Bradford, John Baldessari, Larry Bell, Walead Beshty, Shepard Fairey, Mark Grotjahn, Thomas Houseago, Elliott Hundley, Alex Israel, Khalil Joseph, Barbara Kruger, Catherine Opie, Henry Taylor, Eddie Ruscha and Francesca Gabbiani, Eric White, Tacita Dean, Llyn Foulkes, Ed Moses, Nancy Rubins, Rives Granade, Kimberly Brooks, Zoe Crosher, Alexi Yulish, Roy Dowell and Lari Pittman, David Appel, Doug Aitken, Frances Stark, Petra Cortright, Guy Dill, Kenny Scharf, Betye Saar and Alison Saar, Sam Durant, Collin Berenson, Mara McCarthy, Alex Israel, Jennifer Guidi...

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Alex Israel and Owen Wilson. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Eric White, Patricia Arquette, Philippe Vergne. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by David X. Prutting/BFA.com

"It is with great pleasure that MOCA honors Ed Ruscha this year," remarked MOCA Director Philippe Vergne during his speech. "For decades, Ruscha has proven to be among the most iconic, supremely influential 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." Ruscha's remarks as well focused on the identity of MOCA as the Artists' Museum, saying, "The reality of making this museum included not just city fathers and city mothers but it also included artists which was a first in most museums. They relied on artists advice for their mission."

Based on the high ratio of artist turnout for the 2016 gala, it seems that is more true now than ever. And as LA matures into the global cultural capital it has always been destined to become, that gestalt of giving the artists the love and respect they deserve is more special, crucial, unique, and rewarding than ever, too. And that is more than good.

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Ed Moses. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by David X. Prutting/BFA.com

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Alex Israel. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by David X. Prutting/BFA.com

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Annie Philbin and Kenny Scharf. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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John Baldessari. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images

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Dallas Price, Nancy Rubins, Susan Gersh, Paul Schimmel. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Doug Aitken. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Ed Ruscha and Danna Ruscha. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images

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Elliott Hundley and Lisa Love. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Ed Ruscha and Kenny Scharf. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Eric White and Patricia Arquette. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Kimberly Brooks and Albert Brooks. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images

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Iwan Wirth and Stacen Berg. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Kenny Scharf and John Baldessari. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by David X. Prutting/BFA.com

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Llyn Foulkes and Stefanie Farr. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images

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Llyn Foulkes. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Shana Nys Dambrot

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Mara McCarthy and Karen McCarthy. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Mark Bradford, James Marsden and Alan DiCastro. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Mark Bradford, Thelma Golden, and Alan DiCastro. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Nancy Rubins. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Zoe Crosher. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Donato Sardella/Getty Images

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Michael Govan and Katherine Ross. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Philippe Vergne and Annie Philbin. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Philippe Vergne and Michael Govan. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Philippe Vergne, Carol Appel, Alex Israel. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by David X. Prutting/BFA.com

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Philippe Verge, Danna Ruscha, Ed Ruscha. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by David X. Prutting/BFA.com

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Alan S. Hergott, John Diemer, Roy Dowell and Lari Pittman. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Sam Durant and Ana Prvacki. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Paul Schimmel and Iwan Wirth. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Tacita Dean and guest. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Shepard Fairey and Amanda Fairey. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images

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Shana Nys Dambrot and Osceola Refetoof. MOCA Gala 2016 at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, photo by John Salangsang/BFA.com