When it comes to a stylin' scene, Gen Art, a group that supports emerging talent in music, fashion and film, rarely disappoints. But throw in Black Eyed Peas' will.i.am, walls full of pop-art portraits of 2009 Grammy nominees and a few cases of Jacob's Creek wine, and you've got a full-on party. Monday night at the Pacific Electric Lofts in downtown Los Angeles was crackling with cool for the fundraiser opening of the "Worlds on Fire" exhibition. Colorful cardigans mixed it up in a sea of stingy brims, punctuated with the occasional soul patch or pair of thick-framed eyeglasses circa "Mad Men" Season 1. There were ironic message T's and hoodies ("I Pimp Shrimp" was one memorable slogan), tumbling waterfalls of dreadlocks, women in blousy bohemian dresses (several in their own designs), chunky agate necklaces and rocker-inspired accessories such as zipper-trimmed purses.
Will.i.am was hard-pressed to pick a favorite depiction of himself from among the three portraits on display, but he did point out a couple of his other favorites. "That big one of M.I.A. popping out of the wall [by Greg Gossel], the one of Madonna, the Al Green one and the Shepard Fairey ones of Paul McCartney."
The VIP silent auction party, which included local artist Gary Baseman's rendition of Kanye West wearing a Batman hoodie ($10,000), and Brian Walsh's Jay-Z portrait done in broken vinyl records ($15,000), raised $115,800 for local charities including the Peapod Foundation, will.i.am's charitable foundation that helps kids in inner-city schools -- $110,000 from the sale of the "I.am.o.phone," a working, modern-era turntable hooked up to an old-school, brass-horn gramophone created by the artist himself (and, not coincidentally, the namesake of the gilded Grammy Awards being handed out today at Staples Center.)