Malibu Seen

Robert Borlenghi brings hope to the L.A. Art show. Devon Meyers / TMT


Art aficionados painted the town red as they helped the Fine Art Dealers Association celebrate this year’s L. A. Art Show. The Barker Hangar was transformed into a super sleek art gallery packed with offerings for every imaginable taste.

The artsy crowd came dressed for the occasion, sporting everything from vintage cocktail dresses to embroidered kimonos, Etro prints to beaded skirts, Pollack-inspired bow ties to fluffy fur shrugs, even silk pajama bottoms paired with smoking jackets and velvet slippers.

Revelers were greeted by the soft sounds of a string quartet and made the rounds sipping flutes of Kiefer Wellness cocktails, a lively mix of champagne and elderflower juice with antioxidants. Oh, how L.A.!

The reception area was done up for drama in jet black, accented by colorful pom-pom arrangements in tangerine, lemon yellow and fire engine red.

The evening got off to a tasty start. Ocean Ave seafood loaded up the oyster bar, while Hama Sushi rolled out something fishy with snow crab and eel topped with fresh strawberries. The less adventurous headed to Ocean and Vine, where Gregg Wangard was getting cheesy with his fab four fontina fondue.

The affair was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. After fueling up on first-class fare, art lovers made their way to the hangar where 50 galleries from L.A. to NYC showed off their prized possessions. From Rubens to Rauschenberg, five centuries of art were on display with a conversation piece at every turn.

Contemporary artists are using some imaginative materials these days. For example, why just flick your Bic when you can put one on the wall? That’s what artist Michelle Pred does. Among Pred’s unusual creations is a small American flag fashioned from red, white and blue Bic lighters. It’s the very latest in confiscated airport security items as art.

They may cost just a few bucks at 7-11, but put them all together and you’ve got a modern sculpture worth a sizzling $5,200. “Do they work?,” asked one incredulous observer. The answer is no, but think of all the hours Pred spent sifting through those drab LAX security bins. Other post 9-11 artistic endeavors included flowers fashioned from hundreds of confiscated pink scissors. Talk about cutting edge!

Pred isn’t the only artist drawing inspiration from the ordinary. Consider Wayne Thiebaud. His pricey still life portrait captured a day in the life of two humble hot dogs-one with mustard one without. The tiny canvas could be yours for $650,000, or about $325,000 per dog.

Another curious entry came from the always-intriguing Edward Kienholz. His $80,000 mixed-media composition called “Spit in the Ocean” featured a mechanical man, a fishing pole and a Jell-O mold.

I started to think that some of these pieces were beyond my comprehension, but found hope right around the corner. Art dealer Robert Borlenghi presided over a substantial ’50s-style neon sign indicating that hope was just three miles ahead and that Visa and MasterCard are accepted.

The abundance of original art and elderberry cocktails kept the party going for hours. The eye-popping preview raised more than $170,000 for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and gave everyone something to talk about.