Hammer taps Karin Higa and Michael Ned Holte for 2014 biennial

Just a couple weeks after the closing of its 2012 “Made in L.A.” biennial, the Hammer Museum has chosen curators for its 2014 event.

The museum has tapped two independent writer-curators who live in L.A.: Karin Higa and Michael Ned Holte.

Higa made her name here as a curator at the Japanese American National Museum from 1992 to 2006, serving as senior curator for a good part of that time. Her shows included a survey of contemporary Asian American art organized with the Asia Society of New York and a retrospective of artists Bruce and Norman Yonemoto. She grew up in Culver City and moved back to L.A. in 1992 after starting her career as a curator in New York.


Holte is best known as an art critic who writes for magazines such as Artforum and teaches at the California Institute of Arts. He has curated shows for the Thomas Solomon Gallery at Cottage Home in L.A. and Wallspace in New York. A Wisconsin native, he was originally drawn to L.A. in 1995 when finishing a student movie “because of my somewhat naïve understanding of the film industry,” he said, describing a roundabout entry into the L.A. art world.

Higa and Holte have each worked for the Hammer before on smaller projects, such as writing catalog entries or exhibition brochures. (Holte also participated in Tom Marioni’s “Beer Drinking Sonata,” which involved blowing into empty beer bottles at the museum.) But neither has curated a show for the museum before.

For the 2012 biennial, LAX Art curators Lauri Firstenberg, Cesar Garcia and Malik Gaines teamed with Hammer curators Anne Ellegood and Ali Subotnick. So why aren’t there any Hammer curators on the roster this year?

“Anne and Ali were literally consumed by this project for the last two years -- they visited 600 studios and only scratched the surface,” explained Hammer director Ann Philbin.

“Michael and Karin each bring their own distinct and comprehensive knowledge of the L.A. scene. It’s so big and so diverse that we simply want a different take on what is happening in this town.”


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