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Philanthropist Lynda Resnick on the Hammer Museum & Why LA is the New Art Capitol

By Gabé Hirschowitz | May 17, 2018 | Culture

On the eve of made in LA, The Hammer’s mega biennial, the museum’s benefactor extraordinaire, Lynda Resnick, holds court.

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Lynda and Stewart Resnick.

Lynda and Stewart Resnick, the LA moguls and philanthropists who own FIJI Water, among other brands under the umbrella of their The Wonderful Company, believe in “doing well by doing good.” Recently, the Resnicks donated $30 million to the Hammer Museum—the largest gift in the museum’s history—for its upcoming renovation and expansion. Architect Michael Maltzan will redesign the new building, expected to be complete in two years. In sync with the recent news is the Hammer’s highly anticipated fourth biennial, Made in L.A., opening June 3. “Each time we undertake the research for this exhibition, we are struck by the wealth of engaged and innovative artists who choose to call LA their home,” say Anne Ellegood and Erin Christovale, senior curators. We sat down with Lynda, who chimes in on all the excitement. 10899 Wilshire Blvd., 310.443.7000, hammer.ucla.edu

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John Houck’s “The Creation Of” (2016) will be a star in the Hammer’s Made in L.A. mega show.

You have been quoted saying, ‘We can depend less and less on the government and what they can do. It’s up to the private sector to give back.’
LYNDA RESNICK: I get the feeling that the current climate in government is more concerned about other things than the arts! We don’t want to see the arts go away.

You and your husband have been extremely generous to many cultural institutions in town. What specifically attracted you to the Hammer?
LR:
It’s in Westwood, it’s part of UCLA and my husband, Stewart, is a Bruin! The institution is a jewel. [Director] Ann Philbin is an inspiring leader. The shows they do are breaking barriers. There is also the rapid transit now, and the station is by the entrance; people will just fall into the museum naturally.

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“I Wake With Yew in Mourning” (2017) by Christina Quarles.

You recently told the LA Times that Los Angeles ‘may be the Paris of the 21st century.’
LR: LA is the art hot spot. It’s like the time of Picasso, Matisse, and Modigliani in the 1920s, but exponentially bigger because we are in the 21st century.

How do you feel when you connect with a great piece of art?
LR: It’s love at first sight. We always make copies of the painting before it arrives; we frame them and hang the copies around the house to see if it works. My husband jokes that the copies will do just fine instead of the originals!

How do you feel about the recent #MeToo movement? Have you been confronted with adversity in your own career?
LR: Times are changing. I understand the movement, [although] I never had much happen to me in that way... We are on a tightrope in today’s world. Women need to find an equilibrium—to be on a level playing field with men. We don’t want to be the same, but just as powerful.

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A rendering of the Hammer’s new corner entrance at Wilshire and Westwood.

What is your advice to the next generation of young philanthropists?
LR: Do not be intimidated by the size of the gift. It’s the effort that counts. It’s all about love.

The Hammer Museum’s fourth biennial, Made in L.A., opens in June. Ann Philbin has said, ‘Each iteration of Made in L.A. changes the way we think about art and artistic production in Los Angeles.’
It’s going to be great! There are two artists whom we collect who are part of the upcoming show: Linda Stark and Luchita Hurtado, who is 97 years old! They are absolutely spellbinding. I can’t wait to see their works. Made in L.A. has become such a great tradition for the Hammer. I’m not on the board, so I won’t see the exhibition until the rest of us do... but it’s all very exciting.”



Photography by: “THE CREATION OF” PHOTO COURTESY OF JOHN HOUCK; LYNDA AND STEWART RESNICK PHOTO BY STEVEN GOMILLION