Hammer Museum Gala Featuring Katy Perry

Rachel Maddow and Steve Martin Celebrate Barbara Kruger and Cindy Sherman at a Wow of a Hammer Museum Gala


“Wow,” said Steve Martin, on taking the podium at the Oct. 6 at the Hammer Museum Gala in the Garden 2012. (See 30 event pictures in the gallery below.)

There to pay tribute to artist Cindy Sherman, the actor/ author/ musician/ comedian couldn’t have picked a better word to describe the evening. At the moment, however, Martin was referring to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, the previous speaker who had just spoken on behalf of artist Barbara Kruger.

“Rachel Maddow really looks like herself,” Martin continued, referring to the TV host and political commentator in her pin-striped jacket, jeans and red/ white/ blue tennis shoes.


The Big WOW: Katy Perry

The Martin and Maddow tributes accounted for merely two of the evening’s highlights. As a finale, the remarkable Katy Perry belted out five numbers: “Part of Me,” “Wide Awake,” “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” and “I Can’t Make You Love Me,”  which she called, “one of my favorite songs.” (A remarkable singer/songwriter, Perry is the only female recording artist ever to have 5 no. 1 hits on the same album, Michael Jackson being the only person ever to accomplish this musical feat.)

Looking ultra-glamorous in a slinky beaded gown by Elie Saab, Perry called herself “an arts aficionado,” specifying a special interest in “nail art,” which she described as popular with tweens. (Read more details about Perry’s barefoot performance below.)

And lest anyone disbelieve her interest, tweeters got a close-up look the next day in a picture she uploaded prior to a Barak Obama fundraiser, at which she also performed. For that concert, she decorated her fingertips with stars, stripes, Democratic donkeys and presidential portraits.

Note: The Hammer Gala was the first of three fundraisers in a week for Perry; the second for the Obama campaign; and the third for amFAR on Oct. 11 – more about the amFAR fundraiser to come – more about the Hammer fundraiser below.


More Details of  the Hammer Gala 

As I wrote in my story for the Los Angeles Times “Culture Monster” section, which can be found here, nearly 650 VIP guests attended the event, including actors, artists, art collectors, business leaders and other VIPs.

But as space, time to finish and editorializing were limited for my LA Times story, I’ve included more thoughts, details and photos on this website.

“I’m anti-the arts,” joked Will Ferrell, during the cocktail reception, attending with his wife, Viveca Paulin-Ferrell.

Marg Helgenberger of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” told me she liked the Hammer’s program for emerging artists, particularly because she voted for one of the prize-winners.

“We love this museum,” said Tom Hanks. “It’s in the middle of town, so you can hop in anytime and see the latest art – you don’t have to get stuck in traffic to get here.”

Rita Wilson called the museum “a hidden gem in Westwood.”


More Familiar Faces

Among other familiar faces were Julie Bowen, Tracee Ellis Ross, Mary McCormack, Paul Reiser, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Rachel Griffiths, Dana Delany, Thomas Jane, George Kotsiopoulos, Leonard Nimoy and Susan Bay Nimoy, and Rosanna Arquette with Todd Morgan.

Fashion icons in the mix included Tom Ford with Richard Buckley, Kate Mulleavy and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, and Monique Lhuillier.

Armie Hammer, aka the Winklevoss twins in “The Social Network,” was one of four gala co-chairs. Others were Hammer’s wife Elizabeth Chambers Hammer, Hyatt hotel heir Anthony Pritzker and Pritzker’s wife Jeanne Pritzker. (Hammer’s great-grandfather Armand Hammer founded the museum.) Board chair emeritus Michael Hammer and honorary board director Viktor Hammer were also present.


Annie Philbin’s Remarks

After guests settled down to a gourmet dinner by Chef Suzanne Goin of Lucques, museum director Annie Philbin addressed the crowd, starting with the good news that the gala raised a record-breaking $2 million for exhibitions and programs.

She talked of honorees Kruger and Sherman, recalling a time she and Sherman worked together at a New York gallery in the 1980s. Philbin was studying contemporary art; Sherman was the receptionist, who one day came back from lunch with her photographs, offering them to anyone who wanted one.

“The photograph ultimately became one of the signature images from her iconic ‘untitled film stills’ – a 20th century masterpiece,” Philbin said. “The reason I remember this so vividly is because I didn’t take one.”

Philbin then thanked “the awesome and incomparable Steve Martin,” and Rachel Maddow, “the take-no-prisoners leading light of breathtaking punditry.”


Rachel Maddow’s Multi-Faceted Tribute to Barbara Kruger

On ascending the podium, Maddow immediately declared her unfamiliarity with Los Angeles. “I am from Northern California and there is a rivalry between Northern California and Southern California that Southern California doesn’t know about,” she said, revealing the one-way competition to the crowd. Clearly, this came as news, just as she surmised.

Maddow then asked if any party-goers made their fortune from TV’s “Growing Pains.” She didn’t wish to offend, she said, by discussing the artist’s description of the sitcom’s teen star Kirk Cameron as a “sapling hunk.”

“(Kruger) was not inveighing against the porny marketing of 16-year old Kirk Cameron in the 80s,” said Maddow. “She was naming it. She was describing, that’s what’s going on there.”

Taking her turn to speak, the artist known for exploring issues of power, religion, sexuality and culture said, “I truly can’t wrap my head around the fact that Rachel Maddow is actually here tonight.” Kruger then added, “I’m such a total fan, such an admirer of her bravery and blazing articulateness.”

Regarding Martin, Kruger said, “We’ve come to know him, not only as a terrifically scary-smart performer, but as a writer of astute observation and a longtime supporter of the arts. But I will always remember my first impression, of him – that nothing is cuter or smarter than a man in a white suit with an arrow through his head.”

(Regarding Martin as a “writer of astute observation,” I certainly agree as I enjoyed his book about the art world, “An Object of Beauty,” so much that I read it twice.)


Steve Martin’s Thoughts About Cindy Sherman 

And, although no longer in white suits and arrows, Martin delivered his tribute to Sherman – acclaimed for her conceptual photographic portraits – with wit and charm. At first he suggested that he came for the gift basket. Then, he added he was drawn to her “all-American name,“ which he described as “wholesome,” “safe,” “a prom queen.”

“I’m sure Cindy’s high school classmates never suspected what lurked within –alluring teen Lolitas, Elizabethan monarchs, blessed Madonnas, dead bodies – and not to forget, dismembered dolls,” he deadpanned. “If I were Cindy Sherman, rather than playing an architect or a dad, I might be a buxom cowgirl or a biker chick or a Park Avenue dowager. Rather than being a funnyman, I might be a seriously frightening clown.”


A Bonus for Arts Education

For her part, Sherman quickly dispensed with her thank you’s, leaving the stage free for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to announce a new project.

The idea arose that night, the mayor said, from a conversation between himself, Kruger and education advocate Megan Chernin. So if readers begin to see billboards and posters challenging Los Angeles to bring the arts back to schools, know that it all began at the Hammer.


A “Little Fun” with Katy Perry – That’s All

Bringing festivities to a close, Katy Perry provided a brilliant finale, saying she was “going to have a little fun – that’s all” with the audience, adding, “At some point, I will take my shoes off.”

Which we are told, by authoritative sources, that she did, although I couldn’t tell myself because a small riser onstage blocked my view of her feet.

Note: Perry also sang – with shoes on- which I could see, at the Oct. 11 amFAR Inspiration Gala.


More Artists; More Arts Supporters 

Not surprisingly, the audience was filled with artists, including Doug Aitken, Mark Bradford, Sam Durant, Ed Ruscha, Dashiell Manley, Paul McCarthy, Catherine Opie, Lisa Anne Auerbach, Ray Barrie, Jennifer Bolande, Meg Cranston, T Demand, Karla Diaz, Sam Durant, Shannon Ebner, Simone Forti, Andrea Fraser, Francesca Gabbiani, Eddie Ruscha, Alexandra Gaty, Liz Glynn, Mark Grotjahn, Jennifer Guidi, Mark Hagen, Mimi Lauter, Thomas Lawson, Simon Leung, Mary Kelly, Sharon Lockhart, Monica Majoli, T. Kelly Mason, Meleko Mokgosi, Alex Olsen, Renee Petropoulos, Ana Prvacki, Ry Rocklen, Charles Ray and Sterling Ruby.

Gala-goers also included Maria and Bill Bell, Pamela and Jarl Mohn, David Bohnett and Deborah Borda, Jane and Marc Nathanson, Maria Hummer Tuttle and Bob Tuttle, Lynda and Stewart Resnick, Darren Star with Bill Hair, Linda and Bob Gersh, Edye and Eli Broad, Linda and Jerry Janger, Susan and Larry Marx, Joni Weyl and Sidney Felsen, Ruth and Jake Bloom, Eileen Harris Norton, Billie Weisman, Molly Morgan, Lynda Barry, Audrey Irmas, Dean Valentine, Rosette Varda Delug, Honor Fraser, Pamela West, Eugenio Lopez, Eugene Sadovoy, Tim Blum, John Tunney, Thao Nguyen, Mark Tunney, Jake Paltrow, Phillip Noyce, Matt Groening and Marcy Carsey.


Gala Photos, This Page

Top photo: Katy Perry brilliantly delivered a 5-song set at the Hammer Museum Gala 2012  (photo: courtesy of Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images)

Second photo: From left, Rachel Maddow, Barbara Kruger and Steve Martin at the Hammer Museum Gala featuring Katy Perry  (photo: courtesy of Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images)

Third photo: Cindy Sherman and Catherine Opie at the Hammer Museum Gala featuring Katy Perry  (photo: courtesy of Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images)

Fourth photo: Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks at the Hammer Museum Gala featuring Katy Perry  (photo: courtesy of Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images)

Fifth photo: From left, museum director Annie Philbin in a Rodarte cocktail dress with co-chairs Armie Hammer and Elizabeth Chambers Hammer at the Hammer Museum Gala featuring Katy Perry  (photo: courtesy of Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images)

Sixth photo: Gala co-chairs Anthony Pritzker and Jeanne Pritzger at the Hammer Museum Gala featuring Katy Perry  (photo: courtesy of Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images)

Seventh photo: Hammer Circle co-chair Richard Buckley and fashion icon Tom Ford at the Hammer Museum Gala featuring Katy Perry  (photo: courtesy of Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images)

Eighth photo: Katy Perry provided a “Wow” ending to the Hammer Museum Gala 2012 (photo: courtesy of Stefanie Keenan/ Getty Images)

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Hammer Museum Gala Featuring Katy Perry

Published Oct. 9, 2012 – Ellen Olivier, Society News LA