UCLA in the Community

Hammer Museum announces public engagement partnership with Art + Practice

‘Charles Gaines: Librettos: Manuel de Falla/Stokely Carmichael,’ which opens Feb. 28, is the museum’s first offsite exhibition

Hammer Art and Practice
Sean Boyle

Art + Practice founder Mark Bradford works with volunteers to install a temporary mural in Leimert Park.

The Hammer Museum at UCLA has announced a new public engagement partnership with Art + Practice, an art and social service nonprofit in Leimert Park created by artist Mark Bradford, philanthropist and collector Eileen Harris Norton, and social activist Allan DiCastro. The Hammer and A+P partnership, which is the first exhibition put on by the Hammer outside of the museum, develops a new model for collaborative, offsite arts programming.

The debut exhibition “Charles Gaines: Librettos: Manuel de Falla/Stokely Carmichael” — a presentation of new work by Los Angeles-based artist Charles Gaines — opens Feb. 28, 2015 in conjunction with the survey of his early work, “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989,” showing at the Hammer Museum starting Feb. 7.

“The museum is so excited to collaborate with Art + Practice. I believe this project will have deep resonance in the Leimert Park community and will extend the Hammer’s acclaimed public engagement program beyond the museum’s walls,” said Hammer Director Ann Philbin. “It’s a model for how institutions — and artists — can reach out, embrace and become meaningful to an audience outside of their usual spheres.”

“Annie has been a supporter of Art + Practice since the inception of this idea a few years ago, even before the partnership was discussed,” said artist Mark Bradford. “It seems natural to collaborate with the Hammer, a museum that supports artists working in Los Angeles and a place where I have a long history since my work was shown in the 2001 exhibition ‘Snapshot: New Art from Los Angeles.’”

The historically important artistic neighborhood of Leimert Park has long been considered a center for African American arts and was featured prominently in the Hammer’s 2012 exhibition “Now Dig This! Art and Black Los Angeles 1960-1980.” Venues like the Brockman Gallery gave visibility and validation to many black artists at a critical time in the 1960s, and the neighborhood continued to foster a thriving cultural community for artists, musicians, performers and residents alike.

Art + Practice co-founder and Los Angeles native Bradford spent much of his childhood in Leimert Park at his mother’s hair salon and later set up his studio there. The new 17,000 square foot A+P campus on Leimert Boulevard serves as both an art exhibition space and a facility that serves transitional age foster youth in classrooms, a computer lab and offices for mental health services. A+P is partnering with The RightWay Foundation to provide job and life skills training and to help find employment for foster youth who are aging out of the foster care system.

The Hammer will be responsible for organizing the exhibitions in the Art + Practice gallery space. The “Charles Gaines: Librettos: Manuel de Falla/Stokely Carmichael” exhibit, which is organized by Anne Ellegood, senior curator, and Jamillah James, assistant curator, will present a new, 12-part body of work by Los Angeles conceptual artist Charles Gaines — an influential educator at CalArts where Bradford studied. Highlighting the influence of composer John Cage and his notions of chance and indeterminacy in composition, the new work takes as its foundation a 1911 opera, “La Vida Breve” (Life is Short) by Spanish composer Manuel de Falla. Onto this tragic tale of love mired by classism, Gaines transposes a fiery 1964 speech by Civil Rights activist and Honorary Prime Minister of the Black Panthers Stokely Carmichael as the libretto. Employing a systems-based conceptualism central to his practice, Gaines combines music and text to call attention to the long-standing class racial and economic struggles in the United States while recognizing the power of music to bridge difference.

The Hammer will present two public programs in conjunction with Librettos at Art + Practice as well as artist talks with foremost figures in contemporary art. The Hammer will also oversee components of the A+P artist residency program. Future exhibitions include solo exhibitions of Njideka Akunyili-Crosby and John Outterbridge, and a group show of the first year’s artists in residence — Dale Brockman Davis, Aalia Brown, and Sandy Rodriguez. Visit Art + Practice on the Hammer blog and A+P’s website for updates about upcoming programs and exhibitions at A+P.

Art + Practice has four spaces on its campus: a technology lab and classrooms for foster youth, artist lecture space, artist studios, and an exhibition space for visual art. The collaboration between the Hammer and A+P is made possible with support from a major grant from the James Irvine Foundation awarded to the Hammer Museum earlier this year.

The partnership is overseen by Allison Agsten, the Hammer’s curator of public engagement. The Hammer has appointed an assistant curator, James, to implement the exhibitions and programs, in collaboration with Hammer senior curators. The Hammer will also work closely with A+P to offer organizational expertise and guidance, helping A+P grow into a thriving community nonprofit organization. 

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