You have to love the HAMMER MUSEUM, lending a cultural component to the commercial clutter of Westwood, and relatively convenient to my Malibu, that is if you time going there when traffic is relatively light on the PCH. Good luck.

The HAMMER and its diversions of special exhibits and programs also are free, open and inviting to all, as I contend all museums should be. In addition there is reasonable parking beneath, and a pleasant atrium eatery for a snack or a leisurely meal.

Modestly tucked under a non descript office building, not an arbitrary architectural conceit reflecting a director’s sorry edifice complex, the Hammer is a most egalitarian singular cultural establishment that has been under the creative Ann Philbin, its inspired director since 1999.

But as I write in The Local and on select websites, I must caution those who consider attending the Hammer to be most open minded, for as the museum declares, it “champions the art and artists who challenge us to see the world in a new light, to experience the unexpected, to ignite our imaginations , and inspire change,” Going beyond the personal, it adds:

“The Hammer understands that art not only has the power to trans[port us through aesthetic experiences but can also provide significant insight into some of the most pressing cultural, political and social questions of our time. We share the unique and invaluable perspectives that artists have on the world around us.” It is a view I embrace with prejudice.

That said, the Hammer’s opening exhibition for the new year is a comprehensive survey of Los Angeles-based artist Allen Ruppersberg, a pioneer of conceptual art. The show runs until May 12th. Since conceptual art is an artist pursuit for which the idea behind the work is more important than the finished art object, it can in my opinion be almost anything: memorabilia, everyday objects, found objects, happenings, performances, or simply the written word.

Some silly, some studied, be they self portraits or scenes of others, the exhibit is like wandering through Ruppersberg’s cluttered studio, unkempt house, and junk filled garage. He explains: “I am definitely a custodian of obscure and disappearing things of all sorts.” Revealing, fascinating, yet also tedious. Perhaps that is the purpose.

More conceptual art of other artists also can be viewed at the Hammer in an concurrent exhibit entitled “Dirty Protests.” They are among a selection from the museum’s collection and recent acquisitions of paintings, sculpture, drawings and multi-media installations of 30 artists, established and emerging. It runs until May 19th.

If you have the stamina, there are several other exhibits at the Hammer. Included in one labeled “Tshababalala Self,” is a project entitled “Bodega Run, which “examines the neighborhood convenience store as both a gathering place for community and a microcosm of how current economic and political issues are impacting people’s lives.” Think of several coffee houses in Malibu. Or the one in the museum’s atrium.

Also at the Hammer there are some upcoming scheduled programs of interest: documentaries, talks with Q and A. Check events and times on

Published by


Parallel careers as an urban planner and a journalist, principally at present airing commentaries on pubic radio 99.1 KBU.FM The many arrows in my quiver have included Emmy award winning reporter/ producer for local Fox Television News, design critic for the Los Angeles Times, urban affairs reporter for The New York Times, an editor of The New York Post, contributor to various popular and professional publications, news services and broadcast outlets, including Reuters, NET, NBC, CBS, NPR and the BBC. Founding editor of the East Harlem (NY) Independent. A diversity of professional positions and consultancies in the private and public sectors, (Metro, Disney Imagineering, Howard Hughes, M. Milken, NYC Educational Construction Fund, US Comptroller of the Currency etc,) assorted academic appointments (UCLA, USC, CCNY, Art Center etc.), and always open to new challenge. And let us not forget fashioning sand castles and acting on 90210, crafting TV docs, design reviews, master plans. Books: "The Dream Deferred: People, Politics and Planning in Suburbia," "L.A. Lost and Found," an architectural history of Los Angeles, "L.A. Follies," a collection of essays, and co-author of "The New York City Handbook." Writings have appeared in academic texts, commentaries on the web, scripts for TV, and wherever, latest the Architects Newspaper, The Planning Report and Planetizen.