Hammer Museum’s 2005 Annual Gala in the Garden

Silencing the pessimists who say the term “L.A. culture” is an oxymoron, A-listers from all over the city’s artistic map turned out to honor Ed Ruscha at the Hammer Museum’s annual Gala in the Garden. Among those mingling on the dimly lit grounds were Steve Martin, Frank Gehry, Toby Emmerich, Bob Shaye, Michael Crichton, Edythe and Eli Broad, Bob Gersh, John Baldessari, Dennis Hopper and Dave Hickey.

“Ruscha put L.A. on the map,” said CAA’s Bryan Lourd. “It’s rare that an artist from L.A. goes global. He strips away all the artifice.” Brian Grazer then chimed in, “And he’s still pushing forward and being relevant.”

Martin, meanwhile, remarked that the L.A. pictured in Ruscha’s photographs from the ’60s (when the two first met) isn’t unlike the city he sees and writes about today. “It’s not that L.A. has changed, it’s that I have,” said Martin. “Whereas I used to drive around in a junky car, now I drive around in a fancy car. I went from no air-conditioning to air-conditioning.”

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