The Culture Club

Joe Pugliese

It isn't every day that a group of people as high-powered as these 10 Hollywood heavyweights show up for one photo shoot. Chalk it up to the surging support that L.A.'s art institutions are garnering from the entertainment world.

All serve as avid trustees of three of the city's world-class art museums. Terry Semel, 68, former CEO/chairman of Warner Bros. and Yahoo, and producers Steve Tisch, 62, and Brian Grazer, 60, sit on the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Downtown's Museum of Contemporary Art counts philanthropist Lilly Tartikoff, 58, Hard Rock founder Peter Morton, 63, and interior designer Lauren King, wife of former King World exec Richard King, among its supporters. The agencies, meanwhile, seem to be flocking to Westwood's Hammer Museum, where Bob Gersh, co-president of the Gersh agency, 60; CAA general counsel Michael Rubel, 62; and UTA co-founders Peter Benedek, 63, and Jeremy Zimmer, 53, all serve. (The Getty Museum board, dominated by financial leaders, does not include industry names.)

"Los Angeles has become one of the art capitals of the world. The number of emerging artists and new galleries here is exciting," says Tisch. Adds Morton: "I think more people in the business are collectors. It's great for the museums."

In a time of declining support for nonprofits, trustees like these play a crucial role in contributing to the creative character of a city. They help fund exhibitions, donate artworks, provide guidance and pay yearly dues (from $25,000 to more than $100,000), all in the name of bringing art to everyone. Imagine if all the eye-opening and reverie-inducing art in L.A. was locked up in the mansions of Beverly Hills?

At LACMA, the city's one truly encyclopedic museum, two great new halls for viewing art have sprung up -- the Broad Contemporary and the Resnick Pavilion -- under the tenure of director/CEO Michael Govan. Its entertainment world trustees are helping to make movies a bigger part of the museum's focus. "We have the Tim Burton exhibit [through Oct. 31], and next fall will be a Stanley Kubrick exhibit. If not on the West Coast, where else?" says Semel, who is excited about this fall's relaunch, with Film Independent, of LACMA's film program with critic Elvis Mitchell as curator.

Since director Ann Philbin took over the Hammer 11 years ago, it has become the small museum that could. It has gained an international reputation for incubating emerging talents and for "rediscovering established artists that aren't getting their due," says Gersh. For him, the show not to miss is the retrospective of the work of Paul Thek, through Aug. 28, one of the earliest artists to create installation-based pieces.

Known for its stunning permanent collection, MOCA, led by new director Jeffrey Deitch, is regaining its luster after a financial meltdown three years ago. This summer, crowds are flocking to Art in the Streets, through Aug. 8, the first major U.S. museum show of graffiti and street art. "There's just an authenticity to it -- you feel like you're on the street. They are having 10,000 visitors a week, which is fabulous," says Tartikoff. "That's what makes it worth the check -- someone has to help keep those doors open."