Hammer Museum to honor Charles Gaines and Chase Strangio at 2022 Gala in the Garden

A diptych of a man leaning over a colorful surface and a person in a gray suit.
Charles Gaines, left, and Chase Strangio are the Hammer Museum’s 2022 gala honorees.
(Frederik Nilsen, left; Naima Green)

The Gala in the Garden is back!

The Hammer Museum announced Monday that it will honor artist and educator Charles Gaines and lawyer and transgender rights activist Chase Strangio at its first in-person gala since 2019, to be held this fall. The fundraiser, which was held annually prior to the pandemic, will take place on Oct. 8 at the museum.

Hammer Director Ann Philbin describes Gaines as “an important artist and intergenerational mentor for decades, with deep roots in the Los Angeles art community and beyond.” Strangio, she says, is “an inspiring national leader in the fight for trans rights, through both litigation and advocacy.”

Gaines is a significant figure in Conceptual Art whose work — including drawings, photographs, works on paper and video installations — has explored layering, mapping and rule-based procedures and systems. In 2015 the Hammer presented an exhibition of his work, “Charles Gaines: Gridwork 1974-1989,” and he has served on the museum’s Artist Council, a rotating group of 10 to 15 L.A. artists who advise the museum’s leadership.


Strangio, an attorney, is the deputy director for transgender justice with the ACLU’s LGBT & HIV Project. Their transgender advocacy work aligns with the Hammer’s social justice values, the museum says.

At the event, artist Mark Bradford will present a tribute to Gaines and actress and LGBT advocate Laverne Cox will honor Strangio.

The day after the gala, two major exhibitions will open to the public at the Hammer. “Joan Didion: What She Means,” organized by New Yorker contributor Hilton Als, is “an exhibition as portrait, a narration of the life of one artist by another,” as the museum describes it. It will include about 50 artists and 250 works across painting, photography, sculpture, ephemera, video and footage from films for which Didion wrote the screenplay.

The traveling retrospective “Bob Thompson: This House Is Mine” is the first museum exhibition in more than 20 years devoted to the trailblazing African American artist. It was organized by the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine. The Hammer iteration is co-organized by the museum’s Erin Christovale and Vanessa Arizmendi.

The Hammer’s last gala in 2019, honoring Oscar-winning filmmaker Jordan Peele and feminist artist Judy Chicago, raised $2.7 million for the museum’s exhibitions and public programs.