Must See at The Hammer and Skirball

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Since 2012, The Hammer Museum has been organizing ambitious biennial exhibitions, Made in L.A. Last week, the museum unveiled its fourth, and most adventurous, edition. After visiting 200 Los Angeles studios, museum curators chose 33 artists, ranging in age from 20s to 90s.

Installation shot, Made in L.A. 2018. The Hammer.  Photo by Edward Goldman.

There is a remarkable diversity among these artists, including their gender, racial, and ethnic backgrounds. I spent two hours walking through the exhibition, and I still hardly scratched the surface of the plethora of paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, and videos. There are also a variety of performances scheduled in the 3- month duration of this exhibition.

Top and Bottom: Installation shots, Made in L.A. 2018. The Hammer. Photos by Edward Goldman.

Of course, I am planning to see this exhibition several more times, and to learn more about the artists – many of whom are new to me. What appealed to me from the start is the fact that most of these artists came to work in Los Angeles from the four corners of the world. Yes, Los Angeles is a unique cultural magnet. I remember how, several years ago, a smart art aficionado said to me, “Do you know Edward, that now, Los Angeles is to New York what New York used to be to Paris, after WWII?”

Left and Right: Installation shots, Leonard Bernstein at 100. The Skirball Cultural Center. Photos by Edward Goldman.

And now, my friends, let’s go to the Skirball Cultural Center to celebrate Leonard Bernstein at 100. The exhibition illustrates the life of this great American composer and conductor with more than 150 objects: personal items, correspondences, music scores, costumes, furniture, and audio and video recordings.

Left and Right: Installation shots, Leonard Bernstein at 100. The Skirball Cultural Center. Photos by Edward Goldman.

To my astonishment and delight, I learned that Bernstein toured the Soviet Union with the New York Philharmonic in 1959, at the height of the Cold War. Talk about cultural diplomacy. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Bernstein, the Renaissance man of American music, was also engaged in politics. There is a smartly designed poster for the Democratic National Convention in 1980 that was signed to Bernstein by the artist Peter Max and Senator Ted Kennedy.

Top and Bottom: Installation shots, Leonard Bernstein at 100. The Skirball Cultural Center. Photos by Edward Goldman.

Now, let me ask you – are you with me, thinking that the score of West Side Story is your all-time favorite? I do remember seeing this 1961 film in Russia at a special screening in an opera house. I was stunned from the get-go. The music and the choreography were so shocking and new to me. Maria, Maria, Maria… I will never forget it.

Installation shot, The World Stage: Israel. The Skirball Cultural Center. Photo by Edward Goldman. 

And while you’re at Skirball, be sure to check out a small exhibition with a big bang. There are two eye-catching portraits of young men from Israel’s Ethiopian Jewish community. Their posture and demeanor bring to mind royal portraits from centuries ago, which is the trademark style of the artist, Kehinde Wiley. Wiley is not only a winner of the MacArthur “Genius” Award, but also the artist who recently painted Barack Obama’s official portrait for the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C. Both portraits on display at the Skirball are on loan from Los Angeles private collector and artist Danny First. Our City of Angels is a treasure trove of art surprises…




Kathleen Yore