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Barbra Streisand and Donna Karan turn out for multimedia art exhibit

February 23, 2011 |  5:34 pm

Donna Karan, Russell James and Barbra Streisand 
Fashion photographer Russell James and designer Donna Karan welcomed nearly 500 guests to Pier 59 in Santa Monica on Tuesday to preview the multimedia exhibition “Nomad Two Worlds.” The Australian-born James, the project’s creator, said the artworks celebrate and support indigenous cultures and his country's reconciliation efforts toward its native population. 

James pointed to the painted embellishments on his photographs, done by Australia’s Aboriginal natives. "The Aborigines stored their history in art and music," he said. "You can learn their stories by looking at their paintings and listening to their music." 

Barbra Streisand quietly slipped into the shindig for an informal tour by James and Karan, and expressed her admiration at the artworks. "It’s all absolutely beautiful," she said. "What they’re doing here is fantastic."  

"Amazing," said Alana Stewart. "Astonishing," said Barbara Davis. Amy Sacco, founder of the nightclub Bungalow 8 in New York, London and Amsterdam, said she flew to Los Angeles to participate by hosting an after-party. "Donna [Karan] is so dynamic and so generous," she said. "I had to be here."

Some came from Australia, including Richard Walley of the Nyoongar tribe, who described his additions to James’ photograph, “Innocence Boya,” as mother earth, a dancer and “the story of energy going through the earth.” He said, “The world is now starting to realize the contributions of indigenous people - the understanding of natural medicine and foods and the knowledge of the land,” adding, “We don’t use the words, ‘natural disasters.’ We say signs from mother nature."

As for the placards worn by a few anti-fur demonstrators streetside, Chumash native Gil Unzueta, dressed in a bearskin, said he hadn’t noticed. Unzueta came to welcome the crowd to his ancestral lands of California with tribal rituals.         

“We’re here to celebrate two worlds,” said Karan, the preview party’s host. Through her Urban Zen Foundation -- also a beneficiary of the evening -- she said she focused on the past, present and future. “The past is in the preservation of culture; the present in healthcare; and the future in education," she said.  

 --Ellen Olivier

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Photo of Donna Karan, Russell James and Barbra Streisand by Alexandra Wyman, WireImage