Malibu activism in action at museum soiree

Locals gather in the garden at the Hammer Museum during the recent gala. Photo Courtesy of Hammer Museum.

It’s one of the premier events in Hollywood’s social and entertainment circles. Behind the shimmering hedges and fragrant flower-filled rooftop of the Hammer Museum, locals like Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw mingled and dined with the likes of guest and artist Martin Creed, who was wearing his stylized cowboy hat and cherry red neckerchief. Kate sported a racy lacey showstopper while Estella Provas wowed the crowd in a printed high-necked satin number. The starry A-list gala is one of the top gatherings merging the world’s art and entertainment. “Art and Activism” was the theme of this swanky soiree.

Three new exhibitions celebrated the Hammer’s first gala since 2019.

The centerpieces were the dynamic “Picasso Cut Papers,” Joan Didion’s “What she Means,” and Bob Thompson’s “This House is Mine.”

The latter two featured what Hammer Director Ann Philbin said represented the institution’s core values.

“Embedded in the DNA of the Hammer are the twin engines of art and activism” Philbin announced before the glamourous gathering. There were unions across all kinds of artistic mediums. 

Funnyman Will Ferrell tipped his hat to Mark Bradford during the middle of the Thompson exhibit and Hilton Als and Steven Spielberg walked side-by-side down the stairs into the Hammer’s courtyard preparing to take their seats for a gourmet dinner.

Before relaxing into their Chiavari chairs there was more meet and greet with Laverne Cox, Andrea Bowers and Colman Domingo holding court.

Many recalled Thompson, who died at 39, had a brief but prolific career and examined themes of justice as well as art. 

As the attendees took their seats, Philbin read a personal note thanking the evening’s honorees. Cox dressed in a racy sheer black Avant guard number, took the stage to introduce Chase Strangio, the evening’s first nominee. She praised his “unconditional” love for and involvement in trans and queer members of society.  The presentation revolved around LGBTQ and how the fight is far from over. 

“This has been an unprecedented year for any trans legislation at the state level,” Cox said during the presentation. “Over 250 pieces of anti-trans legislation were introduced this year alone and far too many of those bills have been signed into law.”

Another honoree spoke of the need to lift up diverse voices in art. This year’s honorees join a prestigious list of past inductees, including Diane Keaton, Joni Mitchell, Frank Gehry, and Cindy Sherman.

There was praise and applause, a bit of bubbly, and first-class eats, but the real highlight of this elite affair was the Hammer endeavor which raised a jaw-dropping $2.2 million before the evening was over.

Eighty plus seven puts Julie in heaven 

Longtime local  Julie Andrews is known for her many famous movie roles, but now she has something else to celebrate: her 87th birthday. She was born Julia Elizabeth Wells in Surry, England.

In 1956, she created the role of Cockney flower girl Eliza Doolittle in Lerner and Loewe’s “My Fair Lady,” which became one of the biggest hits in Broadway history. But it was the story of an English nanny co-starring fellow Malibuite Dick Van Dyke that made her a household name. “Mary Poppins” became a family favorite, earning her a Grammy and an Oscar. She soared to even greater heights with her role as a nun in the” Sound of Music,” one the highest grossing films of all time. She did a brief stint back at the theater before returning to film, working with hubby Blake Edwards. In the hit “10,” we saw her in roles like never before. Then came “S.O.B.” in 1981 followed by the “The Princess Diaries.” 

She was married to Edwards and the union continued until his death in 2010. She has one child from a previous marriage as well as several adopted kids and stepchildren. 

So happy birthday, Julie; may your four-octave singing voice fill the hills forever more!