Sitting in Hollywood's sunny backyard, it would be difficult to imagine the Los Angeles County Museum of Art not having a decent film program. But it's only been in the last few years that film has become far more central to the museum's curatorial mission. Though championed by the spry LACMA director Michael Govan, part of the credit goes to Eva Chow (pictured below), the electrifying LA hostess, former fashion designer, and wife of restaurateur-artist Michael Chow, hand-picked by Govan to add some splash to his vision.
Her annual Art+Film gala, now in its 3rd year, honours both an acclaimed artist as well as a filmmaker and fuses it all in a neat fundraising package. The mix has proved combustible: the event, with its talent crush from the worlds of film, fashion, music and art, has become one of LA's most high-powered evenings. This year's event, co-chaired by Chow and Leonardo de Caprio and supported by Gucci, honours artist David Hockney and filmmaker Martin Scorsese. The 2 November gala coincides with two new exhibits at LACMA: Hockney's new film installation entitled David Hockney: Seven Yorkshire Landscape Videos, 2011 as well as an exhibit celebrating French filmmaker Agnès Varda, entitled Agnès Varda in Californialand. Four of Varda's films, restored by Scorsese's The Film Foundation will subsequently enter LACMA's increasingly hefty permanent collection. Here we speak with Eva Chow.
W*: How was the Film+Art event first conceived?
Eva Chow: When I joined LACMA's board about six years ago, Michael Govan wanted to revamp the film department of the museum. The film department was always there. It's just that it wasn't well organized, and there wasn't money, so Michael asked me to think about hosting a fundraiser. I brought on Leo as a co-chair as he's really into art as well.
What does the money go towards?
We're revamping the whole film department and we have a very exciting film program now. We do screenings, educational programs, we restore films. We're very active.
You simultaneously honour a Hollywood filmmaker and an artist - what inspired you to fuse the two?
Filmmakers inspire artists and artists inspire filmmakers. Everyone is so attached. Artists like John Baldessari and Paul McCarthy do amazing films, while Scorsese's 'Raging Bull'-well, he's an artist. The line is getting blurred. There are a lot of mediums now, so it feels very timely to do this.
How do the two worlds sit together in the same room?
It's like when you collect art. When each piece is good, everything goes well together. It's the same thing with people. If people are talented, when they all come in the room, the energy they create is actually quite amazing. I get film, music, art and fashion people all in one room and it's fantastic. It's very exciting.
In the past you've honored Stanley Kubrick, Ed Ruscha, John Baldessari and Clint Eastwood. How does the selection process work?
Michael and I talk about it. We try to figure out what's happening. For example, David Hockney recently had a museum opening in San Francisco. He hasn't shown in a while. Marty is one of the most important filmmakers of all time and he's got a huge movie coming out with Leo.
Are you looking forward to the gala on November 2?
Yes. But mostly, I'm very happy to be a small part of honoring filmmakers as artists. And we needed a strong film division in the county museum. After all, we're in Hollywood!