The Race to Own Great Art, for a Song, Is On

Santa Monica Museum of Art's lively fundraiser is back. Tennies on, LA.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    SMMOA
    Tickets for Santa Monica Museum of Art's Precognito and Incognito go on sale on Friday, March 1. The lively art fundraiser happens on May 9 and 11.

    Art fundraisers, according to popular culture, are stuffy affairs. People stand around snootily staring down their noses at each other and the paintings while sipping room-temperature Chablis. No one is having much fun and everyone is far from letting it all hang out.

    Bummer. Because art is fun, and this oft-visited portrayal has now entered the Annals of Movie Clichédom (a place full of talky villains and cars that drive into fruit stands).

    Proving that culture and high jinks ably go together, the Santa Monica Museum of Art throws one of the liveliest fundraisers of the year: Precognito and Incognito. The springtime, two-night event goes something like this: The Bergamot Station-based museum hangs more than 600 artworks by 500+ artists. They're all 8" x 10". And none have nameplates nearby and all are priced at $350 plus tax.

    Then it starts. People walk around, get an in-depth look at each piece, and determine if they think a famous or up-and-coming artist is behind an artwork. Then they return, two nights later, with the artwork or artworks in mind that they'd like to purchase. It's a mad dash in the door to get to the chosen paintings, and many people likely have their eyes on the same ones.

    Yep, people run, so wear some sneakers with your fancy museum frock, if you like.

    After purchase? You find out the artist. Some truly famous names will be involved, like John Baldessari, and some people who will be famous in twenty years' time. The fun is in the guessing, and the fund-raising is in your purchase price.

    So, yep. Your investment could certainly grow, or not, but that's part of the whirl.

    Tickets for Precognito and Incognito, which happens on May 9 and May 11, go on sale on Friday, March 1.

    Buying for the love of a piece is always good, too. It's rather akin to purchasing one of those brown paper grab bags full of toys you sometimes see at a roadside stop, but for $350. A treasure could be inside, or just something you grow to enjoy over time.

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