Arts & Entertainment

LA's Hammer Museum previews upcoming shows

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The Hammer Museum in Los Angeles gave a preview of upcoming exhibits – and KPCC's Adolfo Guzman-Lopez was there.

Adolfo Guzman-Lopez: In 10 years as director, Ann Philbin's helped turn the Hammer into the place to see work by up-and-coming and established artists. She says summer and fall is when the Westwood museum becomes a hopping cultural center.

Ann Philbin: They’re all free and we have four different reading series. We have symposia. We have a film series. We have almost, well, not almost, we have six nights a week something going on in the Billy Wilder Theater.

Guzman-Lopez: The museum's now showing work by a Swiss artist who uses masking tape and shelf paper to create wall-size graphics. In September, the museum will show multimedia work by a Chinese artist who documents her country's lightning-speed urbanization. And in the fall, comic artist R. Crumb comes to town with his irreverent new work titled "The Book of Genesis Illustrated."

The Hammer's adjunct curator Russell Ferguson says Southern California artists have a place at the museum. He put together the Hammer's current exhibit of work by Long Beach-born Larry Johnson. The show includes creations that got Johnson national attention in the early 1980s.

Russell Ferguson: A very simple piece called "Movie Stars on Clouds," where he simply put six names of movie stars on a nice blue sky and cloudy background. Those pieces are speaking the language our time, which whether we like it or not is the language of celebrity.

Guzman-Lopez: New chief curator Douglas Fogle says he's keeping an eye on how another issue of our time, the economy, will affect art.

Douglas Fogle: The art world will survive. It'll recover and I think artists will go back into the studio. They won't be cranking out work just because there's another art fair and we have to make this. They'll be thinking more, and young artists will have more opportunity to experiment and think about their work, and not feel that pressure so much.

Guzman-Lopez: Hammer administrators say they've been conservative with their endowment funds. Unlike many Southland institutions, that's allowed the Hammer to avoid program cancellations and employee layoffs.