Behind the glitter of the celebratory Hammer Saturday in the Garden, a commitment to activism reminded guests of what awaits the pulse of the museum.
The Hammer's first gala since 2019 is marked by three new exhibitions: Picasso Cut Papers, Joan Didion: What She What and Bob Thompson: This House is My. These are two engines of art and activism that have been built,” she said.
The evening featured unlikely pairings between artists of all stripes, with Will Ferrell hugging Mark Bradford in the middle of the Thompson exhibit, and Hilton Ells and Steven Spielberg taking the Hammer Yard stage together for dinner.
The $2.2 million gala benefited Charles Gaines, a renowned UCLA artist and art professor, transgender rights activist and co-director of Transgender Justice for the ACLU's LGBTQ and HIV Project.
Also on the guest list: Laverne Cox, Coleman Domingo, Andrea Bowers and Annabeth Gish. At the end of the night, the music drowned out the noise of the artists and art lovers outside. In Thompson's exhibition, curated by Erin Cristovale and Vanessa Ismendi, music enhanced the vivid color of his work.
Thompson, who died at the age of 29, had a short and prolific career in the study of justice and testimony. “I like to think about the different ways we can connect with people who want to disrupt violent systems of power and tell artistic and creative stories,” Strandgio said during the cocktail hour.
At the Didion exhibit, Else's collaboration with Connie Butler and Ikechu Onyueni, Domingo and her husband Raul smile at Didion's "Goodbye to All That" on the wall.
"It stopped me because it's one of my favorite quotes," Domingo said.
He recalled his own feelings as he transitioned from "a distrustful New Yorker" to a new Angeleno.
"My point is that I was very young in New York and at some point the golden rhythm broke and I'm not so young anymore," he quoted the article as saying.
"And that's why I left New York," Domingo said. “I felt it was for people who tried and were young and watched and watched. And I went there to do everything. It's time for me to start another life."
Martin Creed arrived in a tailored suit. The cut of the jacket goes beyond the usual frame, with pleats of fabric sewn into the shoulders and tucks emerging from the lapels.
"If you feel like a fool, you should dress like a fool," he said.
To top it all off, she wore a white hat with her lips turned up. Creed has his own solo show at Hauser & Wirth, HATS! It opens this month.
After guests were seated for dinner, Philbin began a personal note about the honor of the evening: When Philbin was a student at the University of New Hampshire in the early 1970s, the state government wanted her and her classmates deported. from school. Gay student organization on campus. They won the right to assemble and organize in the New Hampshire Supreme Court, but another university tried to ban LGBTQ groups on campus last week, according to Philby.
"The struggle is too long," he said. But we're very fortunate to have fighters like Chase [Strangio] and the ACLU on the front lines."
Cox took the stage to introduce Strandgio as the evening's first honoree, praising him for his "unconditional love for trans and queer people."
"This is an unprecedented year for any gender reassignment legislation at the state level," Cox said. "More than 250 anti-sexist bills have passed this year alone, and countless bills have become law and are being challenged by Chase, the ACLU and others in our conservative courts."
Strangio quoted his favorite poets while performing on stage, laughing at how his love of poetry conflicted with his companion profession. UG Auden's poem, dated September 1, 1939, concluded: "There is no such thing as a country / And none exists by itself." / Hunger leaves no choice / Citizen or police; /We must love each other or die.
"If we want the best for ourselves, our community and our world, we have to love each other," Strandgio said.
Bradford took the stage to share his time as one of Gaines' students. "He called me, but he didn't tell me," she said. "He taught me, but he never told me to go that way."
Bradford Gaines joked that he always carries a bag, whether it's an overnight bag or a tennis bag. Tonight was no different.
Gaines said she sees teaching as part of her education, even though she spends a lot of time expressing diverse voices in the arts in the classroom. "For me, the classroom and the studio were interdependent because they were involved in an organization that pushed the boundaries of thought and emotion, and that was important if you wanted to create art that could respond to culture and its own development," Gaines said. . .
The Gabriels closed the night with an incredible performance that got the crowd going. Lead singer Jacob Lusk danced in colorful clothes with a golden microphone in his hand.
At the end of the evening, Roxanne Gaines returned to the table to grab her husband's bag, this time a black one over his shoulder. He shuddered as he remembered her sitting at the gala again and now sitting across from Spielberg at the head table.
"Nobody deserves it more than Charles [Gaines], and he's been underrated for a long time," Bowers said. "It was in the early 50s, before he started his career, he taught and changed the lives of so many of us, so the honor makes me think the world will be safe."
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.