Jason Bateman, Zoe Saldana Read to Kids at Hammer Museum Event

Gauge Theory Creative/Tom Glynn
Jason Bateman

"It keeps my acting chops up," Bateman told THR of his reading of 'Horton Hears a Who!,' which had the kids riveted.

Imagine yourself as a seven-year-old obsessed with inventions who gets to sit down with Alexander Graham Bell and tinker with wires and stuff. The lucky children whose parents are wise enough to take them to the Hammer Museum’s annual K.A.M.P. (Kids' Art Museum Project) are getting an artistic equivalent to this experience. 

Major Los Angeles artists and actors donated their time at the sixth annual K.A.M.P. event Sunday. Jason Bateman, Max Greenfield, B.J. Novak, Zoe Saldana, John Stamos and Aaron Taylor-Johnson came out to read classic children's books for the "storytime in the galleries" part of the program. The artists participating this year included Sam Falls, Liz Glynn, Channing Hansen, Johanna Jackson, Chris Johanson, Toba Khedoori, Amanda Ross-Ho and Kenny Scharf. For the creative workshops, artists are set up with stations in the upper and lower courtyard where kids can learn different methods that stem from the artists' own work. 

THR spoke with actor and director Bateman after his reading of Horton Hears a Who!. Asked about a formative educational experience that helped define his path into acting, Bateman said: "I do remember reading stories in class, in elementary school — the stories where they would write it out like a play and people would have to pick parts. And I think that was one of the earlier times it spurred the actor thing in me. This would have been like second grade, maybe. And I remember always wanting the biggest part. I was a big ham in school. And I ended up getting kicked out of some of them, but I ended up learning how to channel it eventually."  

Bateman’s Dr. Seuss performance had the gaggle of kids riveted. Said the actor: "Sometimes you've got to put a little more flair to the reading to compete with all the good TV shows that are on — interactive iPad apps, etc. But it's good — it keeps my acting chops up."

Artists Scharf and Hansen presented workshops that dealt with creative recycling. Hansen was teaching both collage and corporate subterfuge while carrying on the legacy of his grandfather, artist Al Hansen.

"He took a lot of trash and turned it into gold, he would like to say," Hansen said. "He took a lot of Hershey bar wrappers and collaged them into artworks. He is famous for his Hershey bar Venuses. So with the kids we are just cutting up candy wrappers — deconstructing them and adding new meaning to them. They see all this corporate candy and we empower them to take control over the corporate branding and take it over as art." 

For more information about educational programs at the Hammer, visit the museum online at hammer.ucla.edu.

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