By Kerry Slater
The Hammer Museum at UCLA recently welcomed cultural and civic leaders, artists, collectors, patrons of the arts and entertainment world notables to the 17th annual Gala in the Garden. The gala raised a record-breaking $2.7 million to support the Hammer’s acclaimed exhibitions and public programs, which are free to the public.
Over 500 guests attended the Gala — held in the museum’s outdoor courtyard — which honored trailblazing feminist artist Judy Chicago and filmmaker Jordan Peele with tribute speeches by writer and activist Gloria Steinem and bestselling author Roxane Gay, respectively. Grammy Award-winning recording artist Beck performed five songs including “Loser,” “The New Pollution,” “Black Hole,” “Wave” and “Nobody’s Fault But My Own” with surprise guest Chris Martin. The event co-chairs were J.J. Abrams and Katie McGrath and Tom Ford and Richard Buckley.
The menu for the seated dinner was created by Chef Suzanne Goin of Lucques, who has created the menu for the Gala in the Garden for each of its 17 years. Unique to this year’s event, linen napkins featuring Chicago’s “Rejection Fantasy” drawing were created in collaboration with Prospect.
The evening began with cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres on the third-floor terrace as guests enjoyed “Lari Pittman: Declaration of Independence,” the critically acclaimed 40-year retrospective of Pittman, himself a past honoree at the Gala in the Garden in 2011.
During the dinner remarks, Philbin hailed the achievements of gala honorees Judy Chicago and Jordan Peele. Gay then took the stage to pay tribute to Peele, and Peele in his speech remarked that he was especially honored to receive this recognition early in his career. Steinem introduced Chicago, saying she could divide her life into “before and after Judy Chicago.” In her acceptance speech, Chicago shared the honor with her early supporters and patrons. Pittman gave a surprise tribute to Philbin on the occasion of her 20th anniversary as Hammer director. Tom Ford then introduced Beck whose performance closed out the evening.