Last night most of Washington sat glued to TV sets: first the Padres-Cubs game, and then the Reagan-Mondale debate.
But at two parties, the Washington art world tuned into fundraising.
"Come as your favorite Picasso painting" was the theme of a bash that drew about 100 to the Georgetown Court Artists' Space. A crew of Washington artists were on hand to lure people in to pay the $75 suggested donation to benefit the Children's Studio School, a Mount Pleasant multicultural center for 2- to 6-year-old children.
Sam Gilliam, in bright red cap and matching shirt, sat quietly at a corner table, putting crayon to paper. "The sitter is patient and forgiving," said Gilliam of his subject, a woman in a pastel print jacket and floor-length skirt.
The "sitter" was Olga Hirshhorn, there to support the Children's Studio School. "Jacqueline Picasso made this dress for me -- and Pablo signed it," Hirshhorn said, lifting back her jacket to reveal Picasso's signature scrawled on the lining.
She explained that in the 1960s she and Jacqueline decided to make each other dresses. "I spent the day with her last summer and she said, 'Do you ever wear the dress I made you?' "
In another corner sat Chris Gardner, a sculptor who teaches at the Corcoran Gallery. He was creating and giving away sculptures made of steel wire. He gave most of the sculptures -- which fit over the head and jut out over the ears -- to the guests, but he did make one for fellow artist Gilliam, whose twisted crown read "Big Sam."
Inside, behind the hors d'oeuvres table, a small television set drew a crowd. "The score's three-zero," one art patron remarked. In another room, guests looked at the work by the children of the Studio School, which will be on display this week.
Marcia McDonnell, founder and director of the school, was one of the few brave souls to wear a costume. "I'm 'Lady in Purple With Peacock Feather,' " said McDonnell. And that she was.
Another in costume was Betsy Tebow, art history teacher at Northern Virginia Community College. "I'm one of several figures in 'Desmoiselles,' one of his first Cubist paintings. It's the most critical in terms of art history because it was a turning point for him."
Another Picasso fan was across town, himself the artiste of the evening. Anthony Quinn was the star of a private preview of his paintings and sculptures, which will be exhibited at the Watergate Tuesday and Wednesday. Talking to the more than 200 guests gathered at the Northwest home of Nancy Hines, the actor remembered a conversation he had with Picasso many years ago. " 'Mr. Picasso, you've stolen from everyone, you've stolen from the Africans. . .' " Quinn recounted. "He said, 'My dear boy, a small talent follows, a big talent steals.' " After the laughter died down, he added, "I stole from Picasso."
It was not only an art show but a fashion show: sequins, silk, tight leather pants and an occasional boa around the neck paraded throughout the house, while husbands clicked Instamatics as wives flashed Pearl Drops smiles and posed next to the actor-artist. Iolanda Quinn mingled with the crowd as her husband answered questions about his artwork (as much as $100,000 for an oil).
Quinn made his way through the masses, kissing and shaking hands and posing with strangers, each of whom had paid a $100 donation to the America Chamber Orchestra of Washington.
One entire room of the house was devoted to food -- ham, cheeses, pasta. One woman hovered most of the night over the tortellini, plucking them out individually with her fingers and repeating, "I only want one, just to taste it."