Ava DuVernay, Hilton Als to Get Honors at Hammer Museum's Gala in the Garden

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Ava Du Vernay; Hilton Als

Bottega Veneta returns for a fifth year as the museum's partner to present this year’s event, which toasts both artists and creative expression in Los Angeles.

With a little more than three months before the big night, the Hammer Museum has announced the two honorees for its annual Gala in the Garden: Ava DuVernay and Hilton Als.

The event, set for Oct. 14 at the Westwood museum and presented for the fifth year by Bottega Veneta, recognizes "visionary individuals who have made significant contributions to the arts," according to the Hammer. The filmmaker and the Pulitzer-winning writer will see their names on the invite with soon-to-be-announced co-chairs. Chef Suzanne Goin of Lucques is back on board to handle the menu.

About the honorees, Hammer Director Ann Philbin said, “In addition to creating powerful films and television like Selma, 13th and A Wrinkle in Time, Ava also promotes social justice and inclusion of people of color and women. Hilton’s influence also extends beyond his roles as critic, curator, author, and professor. A highly visible public intellectual, he writes incisively about gender, sexuality and race and won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Criticism for his work as theater critic for The New Yorker.”

Proceeds from Gala in the Garden support the Hammer’s exhibitions and public programs. Last year’s to-do, toplined by honorees Todd Haynes and artist Laurie Anderson, pulled in north of $2 million. Previous honorees include Paul McCarthy, Diane Keaton, Mark Bradford, Joni Mitchell, Tony Kushner, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Matt Groening, Dave Eggers, Catherine Opie, Miuccia Prada, John Baldessari, Joan Didion, Ed Ruscha and Frank Gehry, among others.

DuVernay enjoys an enviable profile as a writer, producer, director and distributor of independent films. Her most recent film, the Netflix release 13th, landed an Oscar nomination for best documentary as well as a Peabody Award and BAFTA trophy. Just this week it was announced that the ever-busy filmmaker has teamed with Netflix again on the story of the Central Park Five in what will be a five-part miniseries about the notorious case of five young black men wrongly convicted of a brutal rape that took place in Manhattan's famous park during the spring of 1989.

In 2014, DuVernay directed the historical drama Selma, which garnered four Golden Globe nominations and two Academy Award nominations, including best picture. She is currently in post on the upcoming Disney feature film A Wrinkle in Time. She's a graduate of the Hammer Museum-adjacent UCLA. 

Als became a staff writer at The New Yorker in 1994 and a theater critic in 2002. He began contributing to the magazine in 1989, writing pieces for "The Talk of the Town." He is an art critic and curator, most recently organizing an exhibition of paintings and drawings by Alice Neel at David Zwirner Gallery. In 2017, he received the Pulitzer Prize in Criticism “for bold and original reviews that strove to put stage dramas within a real-world cultural context, particularly the shifting landscape of gender, sexuality and race.” His byline has also appeared in the Village Voice and Vibe. Als, who lives in New York, has penned the books The Women and White Girls.

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