The Public Recognition Award, which is decided through a public vote and comes with a $25,000 prize, went to Jennifer Moon, 41, whose work is a multimedia mixture of fantasy and autobiography with a revolutionary bent.
Könitz was stunned by her award. She hadn't fully processed her win.
"I just lost my studio where the museum was anchored in Eagle Rock, so I need to find a new location for it," she said. "I like the idea of expanding the museum, to adapt it to make different institutions."
"She deserves the award, not me," Michael said of his wife and collaborator, Magdalena. "She never quit, she kept going. When I couldn't find a place to get the clay fired, she would find one. Then she found a following that got us all the way to the Hammer Museum."
As for Moon, she said the Public Recognition Award is suited to her.
"A lot of my work is about revolution," she said, "and the fact that the public engaged with my work might mean that they are actually ready for revolution."
The awards were announced in conjunction with the museum's Made in L.A. biennial, which runs until Sept. 7.