Addict (drugaddict) wrote,

As MOCA's development events manager, coordinating an average of 35 events a year, Gonzalez is more

As MOCA's development events manager, coordinating an average of 35 events a year, Gonzalez is more rock 'n' roll chick than art geek, with her platinum hair, platform shoes, high-gloss lips and vanity plates that say "GR*UPIE

Vanessa Gonzalez
her past outfits have included a blue-and-white "Alice" frock worn with 8-inch Vivienne Westwood heels for the "Wonderland" of "Ecstasy," and a burlap dress and feather headdress inspired by Robert Rauschenberg's "Satellite" combine.

Because the "WACK!" show is a broad historical retrospective — representing 119 artists from 20 countries — and because Zittel is also included in the celebration, Gonzalez approached this weekend's event differently than, say, the opening for "Ecstasy: In and About Altered States," where guests lounged on waterbeds, eating candy pills while techno music and colored lights pulsed in time.

At this Saturday's members' opening, JD Samson and Johanna Fateman of the iconic feminist group Le Tigre will be behind the decks. The "frenzy" of phone calls and e-mails looking for tickets began the day the invitations went out — another example of Gonzalez having her finger precisely on the pulse.

A first-generation Mexican American who was raised in Monterey Park, Gonzalez, 31, found her special events calling early, directing her cousins in plays and turning the family abode into a haunted house for Halloween — "with soundtracks that I created the day before, and all-out lighting effects." Costumes too, of course. "Absolutely! I would raid my mother's closet, and of course I had no idea when I was 7 who Karl Lagerfeld was, but I was wearing it!"

After finishing her theater degree at Cal State Fullerton, Gonzalez moved to London with four suitcases — one containing just shoes — to immerse herself in the Brit pop scene. She helped launch Ian Schrager's first international boutique hotel, St. Martin's Lane, returning home after she'd pushed her visa to the limit. Through the newspaper she found a job in MOCA's visitor services department, and two years later she began producing donor and fundraising events.

For the 2005 opening for Jean-Michel Basquiat, a fixture on the early '80s New York club scene, there was only one entertainer on Gonzalez's wish list: Grandmaster Flash. Starting a year in advance she worked to track him down, finally getting through to his manager, who had known Basquiat. "She was like, I remember that kid. He used to walk into the nightclub I managed and ask me for drink tickets…. That kid loved Flash." At his manager's urging, Flash agreed to do the gig — for a fraction of his regular fee. "When it's personal to them," Gonzalez continued, "that's when the fees get waived, that's when it becomes 'we'll work with your budget.' "

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