Celebrity culture is nothing new to Scottsdale. The sunshine and chic resorts regularly attract pop singers, movie stars and professional athletes. But the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art intends to approach the phenomenon of celebrity in a different way with its upcoming art exhibition and annual fundraiser.
“We all want to be a little bit famous, idealized a little bit,” said Alexandra Parker, museum director of development. “And it’s so easy to become a celebrity these days. You can become one in seconds.”
“Celebrity,” which begins Jan. 20 and runs until April 29, explores the allure of fame, beauty, glamour and success through the eyes of artists who highlight celebrities and artwork created by the stars themselves, according to the museum.
The exhibition comes at a time when Scottsdale is regularly making the tabloids with celebrity sightings.
In the past couple of weeks, Britney Spears, Matt Leinart and Mike Tyson have all made an appearance — for better or worse — in Scottsdale.
Celebrity sightings are so popular, people call her office all the time, said Amy Rushia, a manager at the Scottsdale Convention and Visitors Bureau who maintains the “Celebrity Sightings” blog.
“You wouldn’t believe it,” Rushia says. “People are crazy for anything celebrity.”
The museum exhibition will feature 201 works by 41 artists, including a tribute to Grace Kelly in diamond chips, an installation by a man who worked as Michael Jackson’s personal photographer and a video presentation of actors who have played mothers and fathers in film.
During the exhibition, the museum also will host a number of events tied to the theme of celebrity, but the highlight will be an annual benefit for the museum on Feb. 10 called Celebrity + Style.
Parker said the museum hosts the fundraiser in a different place every year, with a different theme. Past years have included a “Get Smart” slant, based on the TV show, and last year’s event, Everything Warhol, to coincide with the Andy Warhol exhibition.
“We don’t want to do what’s been done before,” Parker said. “We try to stay away from the Biltmore and the Phoenician. We’re the museum of contemporary art. We can’t do what everyone else does.”
In true celebrity form, attendees of this year’s event will arrive by taking a walk down the red carpet complete with paparazzi, furnished by local photographers. They also will be greeted by celebrity impersonators and a have chance to take a look at a customized motorcycle, the evening’s raffle item.
Participants then will be swept inside the showroom of the Safari Drive residences — chic condominiums being built in downtown Scottsdale — appropriate because it features innovative design and architecture, Parker said.
A silent auction, cocktail hour and dinner will follow. Tickets for the event are $195, with proceeds going toward the museum’s educational programs.
Parker said people of all ages, backgrounds and interests turn up at the benefit, but that they all have one thing in common. “These are people who appreciate that design is all around us,” she said.
To further emphasize that point, the museum also reported it will announce its Contemporary Catalyst Award, given to individuals whose accomplishments represent creativity, innovation and cultural community.
What: Opening reception for the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art “Celebrity” events When: 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Jan. 19 Where: Stage 2 Theater, inside Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7374 E. 2nd St.
What: “Today’s Celebrity-Saturated Society,” an informal conversation with a gossip columnist and museum curator When: Noon, Jan. 2 Where: Gallery 1, SMoCA, 7374 E. 2nd St.
Cost: Free with museum admission
What: “Celebrity Fascination: a Panel Discussion,” with photographers, a social psychologist and a museum curator
When: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 15
Where: Stage 2 Theater, inside Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, 7374 E. 2nd St.
Cost: $7 members, $10 nonmembers
Information: 480-994-278, www.smoca.org Celebrity sightings in Scottsdale
• Britney Spears
• Mike Tyson
• Charles Barkley
• Seth Green
• Black Eyed Peas
• Johnny Knoxville
• Matthew McConaughey
• Kiefer Sutherland
• Vince Vaughn
• Jamie Foxx
• Naomi Campbell