As guests began arriving at the Sept. 24 “Gala in the Garden” at the Hammer Museum in Westwood, actor Neil Patrick Harris of “How I Met Your Mother” perused the upper level art galleries and talked of his interest in contemporary art and reasons for supporting the museum.
“I love exposing people to art of all kinds, especially in L.A.,” he said. “It’s a hard town to get people off their couches and out of their cars to walk around and see something creative.”
A voice in season three’s episode 39, “Bart the Murderer,” in “The Simpsons,” Harris came to the Hammer Gala to speak on behalf of honoree Matt Groening, who created the groundbreaking TV series. Christopher Knight, the Los Angeles Times art critic, introduced honoree Lari Pittman, whom Knight called “one of the most significant artists working anywhere today.”
Art collector Rosette Delug and “Sex and the City” creator Darren Star co-chaired the dinner, which raised a record-breaking $1.7 million for the museum’s exhibition and free public programs. As the evening’s finale, top recording star Bruno Mars serenaded the crowd.
As the Hammer Gala invitation read “dress up,” most people interpreted that to mean wear whatever they pleased, resulting in a mix of cocktail frocks, long gowns and pantsuits for the women. Most men chose dark suits or sports jackets, some with T-shirts beneath. Like Bruno Mars, actor John C. Reilly wore a hat.
In the courtyard garden, where artist Jorge Pardo had strung 600 tangerine-colored lanterns, Reilly shared a table with Jack Black, Viveca Paulin-Ferrell and Will Ferrell. Celebrities and artists filled the crowd, which also included actors Thomas Jane, Alana Stewart Molly Shannon and Gina Gershon; and artists Barbara Kruger, Mike Kelley, Mark Bradford, Ed Ruscha, Catherine Opie, Doug Aitken, Mark Flores and David LaChapelle.
Dana Delany of “Body of Proof” said she admired the Hammer’s cutting edge quality and director Ann Philbin for her choices of exhibitions. “You can tell that (Philbin) picks what she loves,” Delany said. “It’s not about what’s going to sell. It’s about passion.”
Also in the crowd: Susan Bay Nimoy and Leonard Nimoy, Carol Block and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, Benedikt and Lauren Taschen, Maria and Bill Bell, Linda and Jerry Janger, Casey and Laura Wasserman, Berta and Frank Gehry, Eugene Sadovoy, Marcy Carsey, Carol Bayer Sager, Margie Perenchio, Kelly Day, Pamela West, Eileen Harris Norton and Monique Lhuillier. CXA+ART, a division of Creative Exchange Agency, sponsored the event.
Top photo: Bruno Mars entertains the crowd
Center photo, from left: John C. Reilly, Hammer director Ann Philbin and Will Ferrell enjoy the evening
Bottom photo: Neil Patrick Harris, one of the speakers
All photos by Stefanie Keenan for the Hammer Museum
Published Sept. 25, 2011 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA