He arrived on schedule at 6 p.m. Friday, entering the Balboa Bay Resort through the rear ballroom entrance. The black-tie crowd had not yet flowed in for Art of Dining 2013, the Orange County Museum of Art's major annual dinner gala. David Lynch, filmmaker, composer and visual artist, was the museum's guest of honor for the May 17 soiree. Tall, stick-skinny, with his blond hair shaved close on the sides of his head and spiked tall on top, Lynch greeted the evening's organizers with warmth, despite seeming somewhat nervously uncomfortable in the Orange County surroundings.
Proceeding to a settee on the Coconut Grove patio outside the ballroom, the man responsible for such iconic films as "Blue Velvet" and "Mulholland Drive" lit a cigarette, and then another and another, awaiting the contingent of actors who fought the 405 South from LA LA land in order to be front and center for a man they admire. "Idolize" may be the more appropriate term.
Soon, respected actor Ray Wise was sitting next to Lynch on the cream-and-white-striped canvas settee. Wise started to chain-smoke alongside the boss.
Perhaps best known among TV addicts for his extremely out-of-the-box series of a few seasons past called "Twin Peaks," another Lynch cast member of note, Lara Flynn Boyle, swooshed in to pay respects. Pretty, raven-haired Mädchen Amick was also in from LA for the evening, along with the very popular songstress and actress Hilary Duff.
Event producers set up the Balboa Bay ballroom as if it were a salon in SoHo or perhaps the Left Bank. The reception area was furnished with living-room seating in black damask-covered, silver-painted faux French chairs surrounding mirrored glass tables showcasing massive art books featuring the paintings and drawings of Lynch.
As the museum crowd arrived, cocktails were served and the curious meandered through the books. An undercurrent of buzz could be detected as the art lovers chanced upon Lynch images of bestiality among other subjects that would be categorized as edgy.
Museum director Dennis Szakacs referred to Lynch as a man with a unique and powerful vision. "What David creates rings true and clear," he said. "He is unafraid to address the maddening and strange undercurrents of ordinary existence."
The crowd was ushered into the ballroom, which had been transformed by Sunny Ravanbach of White Lilac into an elegant yet very contemporary urban experience. Unusual chandeliers made of dangling bulbs on wires hung over glass tables. All of the ballroom walls had been draped in black fabric.
Szakacs welcomed the crowd and introduced Lynch. He dashed up on stage, turned to the audience and said, "I love Ponderosa pines." There was silence. The artist then publicly and briefly thanked Orange County for the gracious welcome, and he returned to his table.
The gala evening was planned and executed by a committee dedicated to OCMA. They include Marsha Anderson, Inga Beder, Sally Crockett, Susan Etchandy, Moira Kamgar, Twyla Martin, Irene Martino, Pamela Paul, Jennifer Segerstrom and Jennifer Van Bergh. Some 300 museum guests converged for the affair, raising significant funding for OCMA's exhibition programs and art outreach to OC schools, serving some 6,000 local students annually.
OCMA is located in Newport's Fashion Island region, with long-range plans to construct a state-of-the-art facility adjacent to the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, completing the visionary cultural landscape authored by philanthropist Henry Segerstrom. To learn more, visit http://www.ocma.net.
THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.