For those who insist that shopping is just another form of art collecting, tonight’s auction, “The Shirt Off Your Back,” should prove the point. Ed Ruscha, Ed Moses and their contemporary art world peers have donated more than 100 items from their closets to benefit the Santa Monica Museum of Art.

Each comes with a hang tag signed and, in some cases scribbled, with comments. Ruscha’s tells the story of his Los Angeles Dodgers baseball shirt — worn when he and a friend went to a New York party dressed in full Dodger regalia. Kristin Calabrese created a strait jacket out of a pink and green floral fabric, while the Rev. Ethan Acres — a performance artist and ordained minister — donated a fur vestment from his 2001 show “Snow Angel.” John Baldessari gave up a signed painting smock, and David Hockney two hats — one his signature Panama straw, initials embossed in gold in the inside brim. “It wasn’t a hard sell for any of the artists,” says Alexandra Pollyea of the SMMOA. “It engages what is most intriguing in the contemporary art world, which is people taking ordinary things and turning them into something thought-provoking.” In this case, turning rags into riches.

This story first appeared in the June 21, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

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