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Joni Mitchell and artist Mark Bradford were feted in fabulous form at the Hammer Museum’s glitzy Gala in the Garden, an annual event that is always a major draw for the town’s top names in art, entertainment and philanthropy.
Saturday night was no different, and the reasons the stars turned out in Westwood weren’t difficult to figure out. Hammer director Ann Philbin and her team always provide a healthy list of attractive elements for the affair, which manages to feel intimate while boasting attendance of more than 600. Some said they arrived in the name of art, others because of names on the envelope (gala co-chairs Emily Blunt, John Krasinski, Danna and Ed Ruscha and Bottega Veneta creative director Tomas Maier), a few for the food (catering by Suzanne Goin’s Lucques), and the rest couldn’t gush enough about honorees Mitchell and Bradford.
A cocktail hour on the museum’s upper deck delivered ample time to check out the exhibitions — “Jim Hodges: Give More Than You Take” and “Robert Heinecken: Object Matter” — and chat about Mitchell and her influence on music and art.
“She is so much fun,” exclaimed Rita Wilson, who wrote a song called “Joni” for her next album that she debuted during her recent residency at Cafe Carlyle in New York. “She’s just a person you want to sit around and have a conversation with — definitely with some alcohol involved.”
Moments after receiving a glass of white wine (though she prefers Patron Silver margaritas), a Gucci-clad Wilson was greeted by a grinning Julia Roberts, who said, “I’ve been waiting to talk to you about this music career of yours!” It’s a career Wilson owes in part to Mitchell. “We live our lives fearing taking a chance, taking a risk, what people will think of us and at this point, I’ve earned not caring,” she said. “I learned that from Joni Mitchell. She doesn’t give a crap what anybody thinks.”
If only the rest of her boldface-name fans knew that, maybe they would’ve been more confident in approaching the 70-year-old, a fitting Hammer honoree for her artistic side. Even her official website defines Mitchell as “the legendary singer, songwriter, and painter.”
“I’m not going to stalk her at all,” confessed Jane Lynch, who copped to having an email address named after one of Mitchell’s albums. “If destiny brings us together, wonderful. I’m just happy to know she’s in the world. She’s one of my favorite artists. I listen to her all the time, even all day today.”
Fate worked a bit of magic for rapper-actor Common moments later. While talking to The Hollywood Reporter about how Mitchell’s Blue was on repeat during a time in his life, Mitchell happened to breeze past Common on her way downstairs to the seated dinner, which featured a performance by Sia. “There goes Joni Mitchell right there!” laughed Common, wearing Vivienne Westwood. “Aaah! I’ve never met her. She’s one of the most important writers and voices that we’ve ever had in music. I’m hoping to say hi to her tonight.”
It’s unclear whether a chance meeting happened, but filmmaker Cameron Crowe did get some face time as he presented Mitchell with her award later in the evening. Art historian Sarah Lewis honored multimedia artist Bradford, who will have an exhibition at the Hammer in 2015. A well-heeled crowd looked on, thanks in large part to Bottega Veneta, which returned to sponsor the event for a second year in a row.
Bottega CEO Marco Bizzarri mingled with a slew of actresses wearing his company’s threads, including Julia Roberts, Demi Moore, Zoe Saldana, Dianna Agron, January Jones, Elizabeth Banks, Evan Rachel Wood, Emmy Rossum, Kiernan Shipka and Piper Perabo. Also in attendance: Will Ferrell and wife Viveca Paulin, Jim Carrey, Jack Black, Rashida Jones, Kate Bosworth, John Baldessari, Sam and Aaron Taylor Johnson, Liz and Tony Goldwyn, Doug Aitken, Catherine Opie, Barbara Kruger, Tracee Ellis Ross, Lari Pittman, Scott Sternberg, Ireland Baldwin, Elizabeth Hammer, Marcy Carsey and L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti.
It was Perabo who perfectly summed up her art-meets-fashion Bottega dress. “It’s so sculptural and it reminded me of Frank Gehry‘s Walt Disney Concert Hall downtown,” she said. “And at museum parties you can wear something really wild.”
Less wild was Agron, who simply stated why she showed up, which related back to the Hammer’s attractive ingredients for its annual gala. “I love everything the Hammer does, with art, the community and with children,” said the actress. “It’s such a wonderful museum and the collections they have are incredible. Everything else is just an added bonus. And Joni Mitchell is not somebody to say no to.”
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