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Summer 2003
Art Nouveau
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“We felt these were the most vital places to start to build a program that shoots out through all the arteries of the art community,” Elaine says. “In the early days, people in the art community were scratching their heads, wondering, ‘What’s the Hammer doing?’ This was a whole new role for us. They reacted by graciously welcoming us with open arms.”

In his three years as curator of Hammer Projects, 28 artists have shown their work, and Elaine has made some major scores. He found, for example, Francesca Gabbiani M.F.A. ’97, who creates huge, room-size paper collages, at the Karyn Lovegrove Gallery in West Hollywood.

“I was so excited — this was the first time that someone like him had shown any interest in my work,” Gabbiani says. “No one had ever asked me to make a piece for a museum.” Four months later, her gigantic paper collage turned the museum’s vault gallery into a forest, complete with giant insects. Today, she is reaping the fruit of her triumph with gallery shows in L.A., New York and Switzerland.

Another artist, a Los Angeles muralist whose comic-book superhero-inspired piece reigned on the Hammer lobby wall last year, calls his showing “a spectacular jump in my career.” Encouraged by what he heard of the Hammer’s interest in emerging artists, Aaron Noble sent Elaine images of the large-scale wall paintings he’s done on buildings in San Francisco. The pictures piqued Elaine’s interest, and he and Noble went off to Inglewood for a look at the artist’s only L.A.-area wall.

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