By Dave Barton
By LP Hastings
By Sarah Bennett
By LP Hastings
By Jena Ardell
By Steve Lowery
By R. Scott Moxley
By Joel Beers
When people from, say, The NewYork Times come to town and want to talk culture, they always end up at South Coast Plaza. You can explain and expound there's more to the county, but maybe it was your ambivalence about the art scene in the first place that gave them the impression it kind of blew.
So South Coast Plaza it is.
How lucky it is for us then that South Coast Plaza—or as I like to call it, "the wellspring of His grace"—is actively bringing us not just fabulous merchandise that will change your life and finally bring you peace once you just own enough of it, but art, too! And that art comes in the form of . . . sculptures of shopping bags! Could you just die?
From the press release: "'We hope that this exhibit of giant shopping bags designed by the world's leading contemporary artists at South Coast Plaza is not only enjoyed by the hundreds that visit the shopping center, but that it encourages everyone to shop. Of course, we would like for them to shop in our boutique, but also throughout this great center,' declares Jan-Patrick Schmitz, Montblanc's new President & CEO in North America."
See? Montblanc, home of the $10,000 pen, cares about the community! That's Capitalism With a Conscience!
How're the bags? We checked them out during a champagne reception, where the waitstaff came from a modeling agency (details, people!) and the fine chocolates outnumbered the guests. Mostly, we just schmoozed. But the six bags, which stand 10 feet high and weigh 882 pounds, are not unpleasant to look at. One carries the image of two beautiful geishas. Another, by the famed David LaChapelle, sports the terrifying visage of Amanda Lepore, a Superstar on the Warholian/John Watersian model. The transgendered babe—who "works full-time as a living work of art," according to a fansite—has lips like couches and bosoms like . . . well, I can't think of a simile big enough, but they were bombs. While both she and LaChapelle were at the reception, most of the guests were too scared to speak to her: something about how all that grotesque work (think Jocelyne Wildenstein) might be catching.
But despite the guests' discomfort with Lepore and their puzzlement over the work of art that bears her likeness, it was in fact beautifully and deeply apt. None of the guests seemed to realize that guest-of-honor LaChapelle had been speaking directly to them when he snapped his commission. They didn't get his obvious and very pointed commentary or his wankish desire to bite the hands that poured his fine champagne.
It was, to them, unknowable, this ugly work of art. Why was it there? What on earth could it mean? Did they really have to pretend to like it? And what could his point possibly have been? Couldn't he have photographed a pretty geisha?
The sweet, deluded fools. It almost made me feel sorry for them.
But then it didn't.
"THE ART OF SHOPPING" AT SOUTH COAST PLAZA'S JEWEL COURT, 3333 BRISTOL ST., COSTA MESA, (800) 995-4810. CALL FOR HOURS. THROUGH MON. RECEIVE A LIMITED-EDITION PAPER VERSION OF THE BAGS WITH ANY $250 PURCHASE AT THE MONTBLANC BOUTIQUE.