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Going 'Incognito' at the Santa Monica Museum of Art

March 16, 2012 |  2:30 pm

Put on your running shoes: Saturday brings the eighth edition of "Incognito," the Santa Monica Museum of Art’s popular annual fundraiser, when hundreds of patrons line up hours early, so that when the museum opens for the event, they can race toward artwork that catches their eye.

One lays claim to an artwork by taking a numbered tag to the cashier. At $350 a pop, you could be buying a John Baldesarri, Jo Ann Callis, Tony DeLap, John Outterbridge, Betye Saar or Jennifer Steinkamp – or, among out-of-towners, Judy Chicago, Milton Glaser or Yoko Ono.  You won’t know till after you’ve purchased the work – the identity of the artist is on the back.

“People have to trust their instincts to buy what they like,” says Elsa Longhauser, the museum’s executive director.

This year there will be a record number of 700 works available from 500 artists, in a range of media from drawings, prints, photography and painting to sculpture and video.  All are in an 8 by 10 inch format, except for sculptures, which vary in size. 

"We’re very careful about inviting artists, it’s curated," Longhauser says. "People feel proud to be in 'Incognito' and are careful to give us wonderful work.”

The basic admission is $100 (or $150 at the door), which also provides food and drink. Those who prefer to avoid the rush can come the next day (Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.) for the Second Opportunity Art Sale; admission is $10 or free for museum members.

For more information go to

--Scarlet Cheng

Photo: The scene at the 2010 edition of the Santa Monica Museum of Art's Incognito. Credit: Steve Cohn Photography