Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen, Emmy Rossum, Ben McKenzie, Perrey Reeves Among Artists, Art Collectors at SMMoA to Preview INCOGNITO Art Sale


Guests at the first-ever PreCOGNITO Gala Thursday at the Santa Monica Museum of Art had – in addition to cocktails, dinner and musical entertainment – the opportunity for a leisurely look at 697 artworks available for sale at INCOGNITO. 

SMMoA’s popular annual event, slated for Sat., Mar. 17. , offers the artworks, all measuring 8”x10” and all priced at $350 each – regardless of who created them – on a first-come, first-served basis. The only hitch is that artist names are hidden.

“People should trust their instincts when buying art,” said Elsa Longhauser, SMMoA’s executive director. “They shouldn’t be worried about what others think. They shouldn’t be worried about what’s in fashion or who’s the latest artist. They should look, and look, and look, and then buy what they love.”

And whether they could tell one from another, guests at PreCOGNITO were looking at paintings, drawings and other works by major, mid-career and emerging contemporary artists. Contributions came from, among others, Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari, Donald Baechler, Raymond Pettibon, Mark Bradford, Devendra Banhart, George Herms, Lucy Liu, Judy Chicago, Yoko Ono, Kim McCarty, William Wegman, Betye Saar, Marco Brambilla, Mark Bradford, Mikalene Thomas and Shepard Fairey. 

The PreCOGNITO Gala also paid tribute to artist Paul McCarthy, art collector and philanthropist Eileen Harris Norton and Wayne S. Blank, founder of the Bergamot Station Arts Center, where SMMoA is located. McCarthy’s daughter Mara McCarthy, artist Mark Bradford and gallery-owner Craig Krull, respectively, made the introductions; Longhauser proposed a toast to artist Mike Kelley, who died in January.

Dinner came family-style at long tables that stretched the width of the museum’s main gallery, prompting Blank to say, “I haven’t sat at a table this long since the army in the 1960s.” 

Colorful bursts of flowers topped the tables and in lieu of place cards, names came wrapped around tin cans, which held pencils and maps of the room, so guests could best strategize their approach on sale day.

Among those perusing artworks were Emmy Rossum, Justin Chatwin, Shanola Hampton and Tyler Jacob Moore of “Shameless;” Ashley and Mary Kate Olsen; Ben McKenzie of “The O.C.” and “Southland;” and Perry Reeves of “Entourage.”

“For me, the idea is to get three or four pieces for a fun arrangement in a certain area of the house,” said Reeves, adding that she grew up around artists with her brother, an art dealer, and her mother, an art collector and museum docent.

McKenzie said he purchased three pieces at a previous INCOGNITO. “It’s a fun way to dip your toes in the water,” said McKenzie. Regarding his plans for this year’s event, “The key is to get in front of the queue,” he said hinting to his host, Andrew Stearn, a SMMoA board member and producer of “Shameless,” “Southland” and “The West Wing.”

And a place in the queue depends upon ticket prices, which range from $150 and up; the higher the price, the earlier the entry. For more information, click here or call  (310) 586-6488.

Price Latimer Agah served as 2012 INCOGNITO chair with committee members including Claressinka Anderson, Abby and Matt Bangser, Nancy Chaikin, Max Chow, John Cournoyer, Charlotte Eyerman, Laura Fried, Alejandro Gehry, Francois Ghebaly, Justin Gilanyl, Jean-Christophe Harel, Heather  Harmon, Gail Katz, Jordan Klein, Bettina Korek, Mills Moran, Ragna Nervik, Bruce Samuels and Leigh Silverton. This year’s sponsors were Los Angeles Magazine – Best of LA; KCRW Radio; Malibu Family Wines, Tequila Patron and William Longhauser Designs.


Top Photo: That’s Mary Kate Olsen among others checking out the artwork at PreCognito for InCognito 2012 at SMMoA – the legendary art sale, at which patrons buy artwork without knowing the artist’s name

Center Photo: Perrey Reeves of “Entourage” at the first-ever PreCognito for InCognito 2012 at SMMoA

Bottom Photo: SMMoA executive director Elsa Longhauser, right, with deputy director Lisa Melandri and board member Andrew Stearn, producer of “Shameless” (photo: Monica Orozco)



MOCA Celebrates the Total Look: The Creative Collaboration Between Rudi Gernreich, Peggy Moffitt and William Claxton

A Triple Celebration for LACMA’s Rodarte: Fra Angelico Collection

The MOCA Gala 2011: Lab Coats, Revolving Heads and Live Nude Girls

“MOCA Louis Vuitton Art Talks” Feature Artists Ed Ruscha, John Currin, Art-Filled Homes

Three Days on Scene at the Paris Haute Couture Spring Summer 2012 Collections


[nggallery id=140]


PreCognito for InCognito 2012 at SMMoA

Published Mar. 16, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA