“By next year we will transform the empty warehouses and decaying concrete into Orange County’s newest center for the creative arts,” Marian Bergeson promised last year at the Jewel of O.C. fundraiser for the Great Park. Bergeson recalled those words at the 2011 Jewel gala last weekend, as she stood amid the towering palms and modern design of the park’s new Palm Court Arts Complex.
With space for performances, art exhibits and studios for artists in residence, the cool court is one of the most impressive public spaces at the growing Great Park. Bergeson, a former assemblymember, state senator and OC supervisor, is the chair of the Foundation for the Great Park.
The Jewel gala is the primary fundraiser for the group that has raised some $4 million since 2000 to support programs at the former El Toro Marine Corps Air Station, with some $150,000 more added at this year’s gala.
Guests bid on auction items and vied for raffled gifts that included a tour of the Great Park with two artists who have been creating art at the former air base since it closed, as well as a diamond necklace from Tiffany & Co and a Gucci watch as well as many more exciting items.
After Carnivale-themed entertainment, appetizers and cocktails by the carousel, gala chairs and Foundation co-founders Teddie Ray and Janet Ray welcomed the 300 guests and generous sponsors (including Sheila and Jim Peterson of Microsemi, Judith Posnikoff, Donna and Doug Neff, MacGillivray Freeman Films, Michelle and David Horowitz, the Irvine Company and Great Park Neighborhoods) to the dinner, where Marilyn and Tom Nielsen were honored for their commitment to Orange County and the park.
Chef Azmin Ghahreman of Sapphire prepared what would have been an amazing meal at his Laguna Beach restaurant; it was way, way above the norm for a catered gala gathering—even the veggie option was delicious!
Next up at the Great Park is the first art exhibit at Palm Court Arts Complex, featuring Jorg Dubin’s “Plane Art” paintings, opening July 23, as well as the summer music festival that includes jazz great Branford Marsalis and singer songwriter Lucinda Williams.
For details, visit ocpg.org.
Photos by Ann Chatillon