On November 20th, Royal/T Cafe debuted In Bed Together, a new exhibition curated by Jane Glassman that showcases the full circle of professionals that comprise the 21st Century arts community. Glassman is the founder of ARTeamLA, a consulting company that provides resources to the art world.

An art exhibit typically showcases the work of one artist, or a period of art organized by a single curator. The concept of In Bed Together is that of a collaborative event, featuring 50 works by 50 different artists that have been selected by 50 invited art professionals. Each person submits one piece, presented with personal text that provides insight into the thought process behind the selection.

The list of professionals spans a wide spectrum of the arts community, including collectors, auction houses, curators, museum directors, art critics, gallery owners, educators and nonprofit leaders. The selections showcase the broad range of contemporary art, as well as highlight the important roles the professionals play in supporting each other and the greater art world. In effect, the exhibit demonstrates how these key figures are truly “in bed together.”

For the opening, I went with my friend Aggi, who in years past was heavily involved in the New York underground art scene. In addition to appreciating the art, I had a feeling she’d be interested in the Japanese pop culture items that Royal/T had on display and for sale, exactly the kind of stuff her daughter loves. We arrived fashionably late, which has its risks and rewards. On the one hand, a line that previously snaked around the block was very manageable by the time we arrived. On the other hand, the goodie bags were all gone. And then there was LudoBites…

Chef Ludo (R) served up a sneak preview of LudoBites.

Preparing the blintzes.

In conjunction with In Bed Together, Chef Ludovic Lefebvre is opening LudoBites, his “guerilla-style pop-up restaurant event,” at Royal/T beginning December 2nd. The Top Chef Master’s previous LudoBites stint at Breadbar was widely praised. The buzz for this new edition was off the charts, which led to the 13-day run selling out in a matter of hours.

Guests at the Royal/T opening, however, had a chance to taste a sneak preview of the new LudoBites. As we walked through the space, we could see Chef Ludo and his LudoBites assistant in a glass-enclosed section of the cafe. On closer inspection, I could see the assistant preparing buckwheat blintzes with goat cheese and bacon jam. Also on the menu were mini-cups of scallop ceviche. Alas, by the time we circled back the glass box was deserted. We later found out LudoBites was there shortly after the event started, but by the time we arrived they were already winding down.

iichiko shochu: dry & crisp.

Not to be outdone (and luckily for us), Royal/T’s own kitchen sent out passed trays of tuna tartare atop crispy wontons, paper cones of french fries and sweet potatoes, and chocolate-dipped strawberries that paired nicely with the Veuve du Vernay Brut Rosé. To wash down all the tasty treats, guests could opt for red and white wines, Kirin Ichiban, or iichiko Seirin, a barley shochu. Served on the rocks with a small lemon wedge, the Seirin was dry, crisp, and quite refreshing. Props to the cosplay maids, who cheerfully handed out apps with smiles that never wavered, despite the random overzealous guest and occasional blocked hallway.

The variety of art was dizzying, and with the crowd it was hard to linger and appreciate the stories behind the selections. One piece we found particularly memorable was (09-08) 6:47 PDT Antioch, CA (NBC) by Donna Anderson Kam (above). The pastel on paper artwork was chosen by JoAnne Northrup, Senior Curator at the San Jose Museum of Art.

Another standout was Ronni by Marina Kappos (above). The painting, an homage to Manet’s Olympia, was selected by Eric Shiner, the Milton Fine Curator of Art at the Andy Warhol Museum. There’s an interesting story behind the painting, as told by Joshua Bearman, the artist’s brother-in-law.

Except for its height, the piece below doesn’t impress at first…

…until you realize how it was created.

I’ve seen other cassette tape art before, and the technique still blows my mind.

Last but not least, there was a “pillow fight” photo booth (actually, a bed) hosted by Polite in Public. The scantily-clad models were loads of fun and willing to accommodate pretty much any pose that was requested of them. The printed cards came out great, a perfect keepsake. Later on the Royal/T maids took a few photos, and then Aggi had the brilliant idea of asking them to take a picture with me. I’m thinking it’s this year’s Christmas card:

Needless to say, we had a great time. Aggi said it was one of the best art openings she’s been to since moving to L.A. I’ll definitely be back to take a closer look at the art. And if anyone out there can’t make their reservation to LudoBites, you know where to reach me.

In Bed Together
Nov. 20, 2009 – Jan. 30, 2010
Royal/T Cafe
8910 Washington Blvd.
Culver City, CA 90232
(310) 559-6300
www.royal-t.org

Note: LudoBites begins a 13-day run at Royal/T on December 2nd. At this time it’s completely sold out, though the website says you can still be added to the stand-by list.

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