SCI-Arc's glitzy gala designed by Alexis Rochas celebrated 40 years of training design heretics
SCI-Arc's glitzy gala designed by Alexis Rochas celebrated 40 years of training design heretics
Stefanie Keenan

Our Diary of the Getty's L.A. Architecture Project: SCI-Arc's Gala and a Concert at Jackie Treehorn's House

This is the second installment of our Pacific Standard Time Presents diary, covering the Modern architecture extravaganza that's blanketing the city. Go here for the first installment: *The Getty's Big, New Exploration of L.A. Architecture.

Who would have guessed that with just the right amount of booze, architects can be so much fun? On a warm April night I headed to SCI-Arc for its 40th anniversary gala, which also provided a peek at the PSTP show "A Confederacy of Heretics: The Architecture Gallery, Venice 1979." The exhibition traces a series of shows held in architect Thom Mayne's Venice home in 1979 featuring a dozen architects who would come to put L.A. on the map. One could mill about the show then step into the other room and see those grinning heretics wearing the same smiles 30-odd years later (and in a few cases, I think, wearing the same clothes).

As guests dined on softball-sized orbs of short rib, Frances Anderton and Tom Gilmore tried their best to emcee the event over dicey acoustics and chatty guests, but the room paid full attention and rose to its feet when honoring the school's founder and first director, Ray Kappe, looking adorable at 85.

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The colorful architectural models in the show seemed to influence gala designer Alexis Rochas, who included custom-printed, unique-pattered tablecloths that looked more like beach umbrellas than your typical Over the Hill decor. Most of the architects wore black on black, of course, but there were a few highlights, like SCI-Arc director of academic affairs Ming Fung and husband and partner Craig Hodgetts, who looked like spring chickens, both in bright yellow.

Out in the parking lot, architects Dwayne Oyler and Jenny Wu repurposed their knitted Netscape pavilion into the frilly, spandex-clad Stormcloud for the after party. With the addition of students, electronica and beer (which ran out quickly), it made for a little slice of Coachella in downtown L.A. More than one partygoer in attendance was commemorating 4/20 as well, adding a particularly festive vibe to the air.

After midnight, the better-connected attendees wandered over to the MOCA gala a few blocks away, where grumblings that their big PSTP architecture show was in trouble had already started to surface. Many of the younger architects featured in the show have close ties to SCI-Arc and are building ambitious pavilions for an exhibition which supposedly doesn't have enough money to pay them. Oops.

Back at SCI-chella, the rest of us danced to Daft Punk's "Get Lucky" (I'm calling it now: It's the song of the summer), drank red wine when the beer evaporated, and nursed appropriately brutal hangovers at next morning's CicLAvia to the Sea.

James Goldstein's (or Jackie Treehorn's) house set the stage for the Architectones art event
James Goldstein's (or Jackie Treehorn's) house set the stage for the Architectones art event
Elizabeth Daniels

While not an official PSTP event, Modern-sympathetic scenesters were whisked via shuttle into Benedict Canyon later in the week to the Sheats Goldstein House, owned by unofficial Lakers mascot James Goldstein -- he was off maintaining his constant courtside presence at a playoff game in San Antonio. The occasion was the latest Architectones event in which artist Xavier Veilhan and curator Francois Perrin designed an art happening inside John Lautner's masterpiece (also known as Jackie Treehorn's house from the movie The Big Lebowski).

In addition to several installations, like a statue of Lautner gazing out the triangular bedroom vista with retractable glass walls, Veilhan performed a musical piece with Air's Nicolas Godin, sadly without accompaniment from legendary disco producer Giorgio Moroder, who was also in the house (and produced a song for the new Daft Punk album -- I'm telling you it's the song of the summer!).

A statue of John Lautner by Xavier Veilhan surveyed the lush Sheats Goldstein property
A statue of John Lautner by Xavier Veilhan surveyed the lush Sheats Goldstein property
Elizabeth Daniels

Even if you didn't get the invite to Goldstein's, you can still poke around Modern houses in a just-launched, online-only PSTP exhibition by the Huntington Library, "Form and Landscape," which pulls the highlights from the 70,000-image Southern California Edison archives. The jaw-dropping images tell the story of a Los Angeles electrified, as the landscape came alive with streetlights and neon signs. Themed one-word collections like "Noir" and "Fabrication" are curated by L.A. luminaries like DJ Waldie and Catherine Opie, who also penned essays about their picks. One particularly poignant section includes shots from the archive transposed with photos of the same sites today. My, how times have changed.

Nowhere have times changed more than on Bunker Hill, which the LA Conservancy will visit this weekend as part of its ongoing Modern walking tour series. Also on Saturday, up at the Getty, "Framing L.A." will stage site-specific performances among its installations. And next week, May 8 will see the opening of the MAK Center's Everything Loose Will Land curated by the visionary Sylvia Lavin. I hope to land there as well.

Until next time... Get lucky.

Follow me on Twitter at @gelatobaby, and for more arts news follow us at @LAWeeklyArts and like us on Facebook.


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