The Santa Monica Museum of Art (SMMoA) will host its fourth annual benefit exhibition and art sale, INCOGNITO, starting at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 3rd, and continuing at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 4th.

The event will hide the identity of the contemporary artists who have created works for the exhibit in an identical eight-by-ten-inch formats and signed the back. Each item will cost $300, and its artist will be revealed after a buyer completes the purchase.

Packages and ticket levels for entrance into Saturday’s sale range from $100 for a single ticket in advance to a $1,500 Benefactor package including two tickets. However, admission will be free on Sunday.

The museum is in Bergamot Station G1, 2525 Michigan Ave. in Santa Monica.

Information, (310) 586-6488 or www.smmoa.org/.

SMMoA executive director Elsa Longhauser answered questions for The Argonaut about INCOGNITO’s creation, people’s reactions and the museum’s role in Santa Monica:

How did you come up with the idea for INCOGNITIO?

Elsa Longhauser: The truth is that a friend of mine told me [about a similar event at] the Royal College of Art in London, where artists were being asked to make post cards. I heard that idea; I thought it sounded really great. So, we decided to adapt it to our museum.

How do people react to finding out the artist’s identity of the work they bought?

Longhauser: I think the people are very happy when they find out who the artist is because they’ve followed the rules, they’ve trusted their instincts, and they bought what they love. So, if it happens to be somebody with a big name, of course they are excited. But they are also excited if it is somebody they haven’t heard of because it is a new discovery.

What is the community response to the entire process?

Longhauser: Very positive, people love it. I would say people across the board — sophisticated and experienced collectors to first-time collectors — always come away finding something wonderful.

How did you come up with the $300 price for each item?

Longhauser: I guess it was what we considered a fair price that everyone can pretty much afford.

Why is it important to give people multiple options on how they can support the museum through this event?

Longhauser: We have found that people who are really interested in getting particular work would like to come to the preview. We offer that as a higher ticket item. We have the various packages and various levels because we want to be as fair as we can to everybody.

What do you hope attendees take away from this event?

Longhauser: I think for them to have the experience of being able to [pick] art from a large number of works with their eyes; with their instincts; and be happy with what they have selected.

What do you think the role of the museum is within the Santa Monica community?

Longhauser: [It should] always give people an opportunity to see something that they would not otherwise see. Through art we feel that we offer ways of viewing the world through the artists eyes that people would not normally have the chance to experience.

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