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Get Ready, Set, Go to 8th Annual 'INCOGNITO'

Every piece of art is signed and on sale for $350 at the popular Santa Monica Museum of Art fundraiser. It opens 7 p.m. Saturday.

Forego heels and “trust your instincts," because when the doors open for INCOGNITO Saturday evening, there won't be time to be indecisive.

"It is a mad dash, a major athletic tournament," said Elsa Longhauser, Executive Director of the .

In its eighth year, the unusual high-energy event offers original artworks for sale at incredible prices.

From 7-10 p.m. Saturday, more than 650 artworks will be available by 500-plus leading, mid-career and emerging contemporary artists. As always, every 8 inch x 10 inch original works will each cost $350, plus tax. Each piece is signed by the artist, whose name isn't revealed until after the purchase.

Artists include John Baldessari, Mark Bradford, Marco Brambilla, Judy Chicago, Kim McCarty, Yoko Ono, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha, Betye Saar, Mickalene Thomas, William Wegman, and many more.

INCOGNITO is based on a similar concept at the Royal College of Art in London, which puts on a postcard exhibition with artists signing their work on the reverse, to keep their identity secret until after purchase.

"We thought it was an interesting way to fundraise while respecting the uniqueness of the museum," said Longhauser. "So we started talking about it and came up with the name INCOGNITO, and the idea took off from there."

It became a big hit. Each year, a line begins to form by noon—seven hours before the opening.

"Many people are very serious about it; they’re ready for a sprint, dressed in their sneakers," said Longhauser.

This year, for the first time, the museum will host PRECOGNITO, a preview and gala from 7 to 10 p.m. Thursday in the museum’s main gallery. The gala will include dinner and tributes to philanthropist and collector Eileen Harris Norton, artist Paul McCarthy, and the founder of the Bergamot Station Art Center, Wayne Blank.

A second opportunity to purchase INCOGNITO artworks will take place 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 18th when the exhibition and art sale continues with reduced ticket prices.

All proceeds directly support the museum. Admission to INCOGNITO is $100 pre-sale or $150 at the door. There are several admission packages ranging from $100 to $700 that allow VIP access. The admission for the second day event on Sunday is $10 (free for SMMoA members).

For more information and a list of participating artists, call (310) 586-6488 or visit www.smmoa.org/incognito2012. The Santa Monica Museum of Art is at the Bergamot Station, Building G1, 2525 Michigan Ave.

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