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The Crowd: OCMA toasts an L.A. art legend

June 20, 2012|By B.W. Cook
  • VISIONARIES-Honoree art dealer Irving Blum, Ilene Kurtz-Kretzschmer and OCMA Director Dennis Szakacs at Art of Dining 2012.
VISIONARIES-Honoree art dealer Irving Blum, Ilene Kurtz-Kretzschmer… (Daily Pilot )

It is the most sophisticated social event of the year in Orange County.

Art of Dining 2012, the Orange County Museum of Art's annual fundraising gala, honored Los Angeles art dealer Irving Blum, a visionary collector and exhibitor of contemporary art.

The debonair Blum, director and co-owner of the internationally recognized Ferus Gallery, was honored for a career that has spanned more than 50 years and championed the likes of American contemporary artists Ed Moses, Craig Kauffman, Robert Irwin and John Altoon.

The relationship between Blum, his Ferus Gallery and the Orange County Museum of Art began in the early 1960s, when the museum was a novice in the world of 20th century contemporary art.

Inasmuch as 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the museum, which has grown and evolved over a remarkable span of time, recognizing the contribution of Blum was the perfect marriage of influence in setting the tone for the June 2 gala held at the Montage Laguna Beach.

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"Irving represented artists who were changing the very definition of art," OCMA Director Dennis Szakacs commented. "Irving Blum made it all happen. He personified 'cool' then and continues to do so now."

Szakacs welcomed the Orange County art crowd in the Montage ballroom dressed in elegant cream silk and black accents. The room had been transformed into a chic setting reminiscent of a private salon gathering at New York City's Pierre hotel in an elegant era past.

The executive host committee responsible for the affair included Marsha Anderson, Twyla Reed Martin, Jennifer Segerstrom, Jennifer Van Bergh, Lilly Merage, Moira Kamgar, Irene Martino, Michelle Janavs, Susan Etchandy and Inga Beder. The dynamic women created a spectacular evening that was not only elegant but super-charged with energy.

It is Szakacs' style to keep the long and boring executive speeches to a minimum. Instead, the erudite museum director with the black signature horn-rimmed glasses put the spotlight on the guest of honor.

He introduced Blum. Now in his 80s and with the physical appearance of Cary Grant and the intellect of a statesman, Blum delivered a personal and fascinating account of his life's journey in the art world, beginning with his early career in New York and his mid 20th century move to Los Angeles at the dawn of what would become a West Coast beacon for contemporary artists.

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