The Hammer Museum Gala: Paint By Numbers


The last math course I took was more than 20 years ago and entitled “Arithmetic for Adult Living.” That being said, even I know that raising $2 mil in a few hours is pretty slick. That is what happened at last week’s Hammer Museum Gala in the Garden attended by everyone from Doug Aitkin to Viola Davis. Museum director Ann Philbin wore a mod Bottega Veneta (event sponsor) dress, Leonard Nimoy sported his usual cool haircut. K.D. Lang sang a few tunes emoting hardcore on Hallelujah. I ran into Lang at the bar before her performance and when she hit the stage in the Hammer’s courtyard she joked, “Surprisingly, I’m not as drunk as in former years.” Here’s how you raise a lot of dough for a museum quickly and painlessly:

Have Will Ferrell appear as Tom Hanks.
Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks were the gala chairs. Hanks couldn’t attend at the last minute, and Ferrell pinch hit for him taking the podium with Wilson. “Doesn’t my wife look beautiful?” he joked (sneaking a kiss with Wilson). Ferrell and his real wife Viveca buy a table each year at the bash. “Sometimes I’ll just walk up and touch the artwork,” Ferrell continued. “I love meeting the artists, cornering them and talking their ear off.”

Honor playwright Tony Kushner and artist Robert Gober.
Viola Davis introduced Kushner, who almost got her thrown out of school 20 years ago (she didn’t care for a play he was putting on) and artist Charles Ray shuffled up to introduce Gober. Best speechifier of the year? I gotta go with Kushner. “It’s so nice to fly to L.A. for an award I’m 100% certain I’m going to win.” That was just the beginning. He went on a terrific rant on how politicians should have more art in their lives.

Get these folks to come and feed them Suzanne Goin’s grub.
Jodie Foster, Matt Groening, Ed and Danna Ruscha, Diane Kruger, Rodarte’s Laura Mulleavy, Doug Aitkin, Catherine Opie, Mary Kelly, UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, Firooz Zahedi, Maria Bello, China Chow, and LA Phil’s Deborah Borda.

Make some grand announcements.
The Hammer Museum will be free starting in February 2014 for the next four years. Longtime museum supporters Erika Glazer and Brenda Potter each ponied up $1 mil so we all can see the exhibits on their dime. In related news, Jeanne and Anthony Pritzker ponied up $2 mil in support of kid’s programs at the museum.

Photographs courtesy Stefanie Keenan / Getty Images