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“I think part of the purpose of museums is to serve friction,” said the artist Doug Aitken. “Things that make you wake up, that make you think.”

Museum fund-raising galas, however, are better known for serving bland cuisine and excess, so when Jeffrey Deitch, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art’s new director, invited Aitken to reinvent the annual dinner as an art experience, the L.A. native saw an opportunity to strip things back and “reclaim this corrupted territory.”

Inspired by the mythology of the west coast, Aitken envisioned a “Happening” fed by the collective energy of everyone who converged in that place on that night — “whether they’re from Paris, or Torrance.”

On Saturday night in Downtown L.A., both – and more – were in the house. Local art luminaries like Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie and John Baldessari mingled with collectors, curators and Hollywood stars such as Kirsten Dunst, Chloe Sevigny, Gwen Stefani and Kate Bosworth – just a few of the lovely ladies dressed by the evening’s sponsor, Chanel. Some opted for vintage, like Rachel Griffiths in a red Lanvin frock, but it’s probably safe to say that only one – Rodarte’s Laura Mulleavy – wore a Raiders T-shirt. And from there on, the same-old/same-old gave way to something fresh.

Two lines of drummers led guests from “The Artist’s Museum” exhibition, a survey of L.A. art from 1980 to the present, into a huge tent with flashing lights where the Happening took place. Black-and-white op art patterns and posters lined the walls, and PVC pipes and glowing fluorescent tubes programmed with different colors and sequences snaked across the ceiling. “It’s very early ‘Tron,’” observed the architect Barbara Bestor, who designed the space.

Aitken had promised an “ambush” but the evening’s first performance, an expanding collaboration between Devendra Banhart, Beck and the Tropicalia legend Caetano Veloso, felt more like an embrace. “Typically, I’d pay to play with Beck and Caetano,” Banhart had joked before going onstage, and one could almost believe he wasn’t kidding when he and Beck provided harmonies on Veloso’s love letter to his sister, “Maria Bethania,” the sounds of their guitars and voices buoyed by lilting orchestral strings.

The menu, an “Organic Garden Dinner,” was conceived by Joanna Moore of the Venice restaurant Axe, a favorite spot of Aitken’s for both its food and its ethics. “There’s such an ideology in her practice,” he said, and whether or not guests knew that the simple braised greens, roasted root vegetables and mesquite-grilled rib eye steak they were serving to each other, family style, came from local organic farms, they knew it was delicious. “I think this is probably the best food I’ve had at a MOCA gala,” said Caroline Styne – no small compliment coming from the co-owner of Lucques and AOC.

After dinner, Aitken premiered “WE,” a layered, experimental sonic work that combined the speedy calls of farm auctioneers with the Los Angeles Gospel Choir and a cattle roper who cracked his whip in the center of the tent, while Aitken, Banhart and Beck mixed the feeds live. If this, or having the linens suddenly cleared from the table so that percussionists could gather round and “play” didn’t wake up the five groups of diners it happened to, well, probably nothing would.

Cathy Opie, who was seated at one such “Sonic Table,” said she was “so happy to participate. My hat goes off to Doug Aitken.”

Guests left the happening toting copies (sometimes two or three) of “The Idea of the West,” a book created by Aitken’s studio that explores the concept through interviews and art. And there was an added, unexpected bonus, as Deitch pointed out the next day: “Because we served organic wine, nobody got a hangover.”