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Celebrating the Best in L.A. Art

An open, well-lit gallery space, with a row of six paintings hanging on the back wall, partially obscured by four large sculptural pieces, each standing on a white block pedestal, arranged in a row along the gallery floor.
Of the 39 artists selected for the 2023 Made in L.A.: Acts of Living exhibition, Akinsanya Kambon was the winner of the Mohn Award honoring artistic excellence.

As befits a city of its size, diversity and creative spirit, Los Angeles has become a major force in the American art scene. Today, it is one of the most energetic art communities in the world — filled with imaginative individuals producing bold, adventurous artworks. They inspire one another as they reflect and deepen the cultural richness of the place they call home.

UCLA is one of the major engines driving Los Angeles artists, thanks to its highly regarded educational programs in a range of artistic disciplines, several studio and performance spaces and two art museums. At the Hammer Museum of Art at UCLA, two of the university’s supporters — the art collectors and philanthropists Jarl and Pamela Mohn — have stepped in to help secure L.A.’s standing among the world’s great art cities.

Getting Vocal About the Local

The Hammer Museum opened its doors in 1990. Ann Philbin, the museum’s director for 25 years, established the Hammer’s identity as a hub for contemporary art and dynamic public events. It is a place where Angelenos not only see innovative work from around the world but discover art produced in their own backyard.

The Hammer’s largest celebration of homegrown art is its internationally acclaimed biennial exhibition Made in L.A. Through a mix of installations, videos, films, sculptures, performances, and paintings, it spotlights rising local talent and offers insight into current trends and practices coming out of the city.

The Mohns support Made in L.A. and emerging Angeleno artists through the coveted Mohn Awards, which the Hammer presents to the exhibition’s outstanding contributors.

At the first Made in L.A. in 2012, the Mohns presented a single award of $100,000 to a winner chosen by visitors to the exhibition. Starting with the second biennial in 2014, the couple expanded their generosity — funding not one but three awards, which remain in place to this day.

The $100,000 Mohn Award, which honors artistic excellence, is determined by a jury of curators and scholars. The $25,000 Career Achievement Award, also juried, is given to an exhibition artist who has demonstrated significant contributions to contemporary art throughout their career. Finally, the recipient of the $25,000 Public Recognition Award is chosen by visitors to the exhibition.

The Best of the 2023 Biennial

The 2023 Made in L.A. — subtitled Acts of Living — was hailed by Forbes Magazine as “the best-curated yet.” The Los Angeles Review of Books said, “the sixth iteration was as exciting, surprising, and lively as its predecessors and, like each one, completely new.”

The Mohn Award jury and the public seemed to agree with those assessments.

The jury praised the 2023 Mohn Award winner, ceramicist Akinsanya Kambon, for having “developed a distinctive visual language that narrates episodes of violence, liberation, and revolution.” The Career Achievement Award went to Pippa Garner, recognizing her “wry and inventive sculptures, drawings, videos, and performances [that] subvert social norms and the language of consumerism.” Remarking on Jackie Amézquita’s popular vote award, exhibition co-curator Pablo José Ramírez said, “Jackie is an artist committed to sharing and nurturing her diasporic experience as a Guatemalan immigrant, reverberating vigorously with a variety of audiences in Los Angeles and beyond.”

Fortunately for Angelenos — and Angeleno artists — the Mohns are dedicated to the city’s artistic future.

Endowed Giving Secures a Strong Future for Art

In 2021, as the Hammer Museum continued to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mohns stepped forward with a new $5.15 million gift. Their donation created two endowments to support future Mohn Awards and exhibitions.

“It is still so exhilarating to discover new art and artists through each new edition of Made in L.A.,” said Jarl Mohn. “Pamela and I remain unwaveringly dedicated to supporting emerging L.A. artists. Our gift will ensure the Mohn Awards and biennials continue to be an important part of that support system for the brilliant Made in L.A. artists.”

In addition, the Mohns also support numerous art acquisitions for the Hammer’s permanent collection — including works featured in Made in L.A. exhibitions. This ensures that the works of local artists remain in the permanent collection of a museum which is shaping the future of art in Los Angeles.

To learn more about how you can support the Hammer Museum, contact

Scott Tennent310-443-7056

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On the wall of a well-lit gallery space hang 144 squares in different shades of brown, hung in eight rows.

In her installation piece “El Suelo Que Nos Alimenta,” Jackie Amézquita — winner of the 2023 Public Recognition Award — displays soil samples from each of L.A.’s 144 neighborhoods.

On the wall of a well-lit gallery space hang nine framed pencil drawings, each one a parody of an advertisement for an automotive product

Pippa Garner, who has won acclaim for her satirical takes on consumerism and advertising, was the 2023 recipient of the Career Achievement Award honoring brilliance and resilience.

In a party setting, a white man in a purple suit and dark glasses, holding a drink, smiles at the camera, alongside him is a white woman in black clothing, also smiling to camera.

The generosity of Jarl Mohn (left, alongside Hammer Museum director Ann Philbin) along with his wife Pamela (not pictured) is providing vital support to the biennial Made in L.A. exhibition and to L.A.’s art community.

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