Pacific Coast Juror: Anne Ellegood, Senior Curator, Hammer Museum, Los Angeles

Only ten days are left for artists to apply to our Pacific Coast Competition 2011, which is open through Thursday June 30! (Apply online if you're an artist in AK, CA, HI, OR, or WA.) We're thrilled to feature the incredible expertise of L.A.'s Anne Ellegood, Senior Curator at the Hammer Museum, as the juror for the Pacific Coast Competition, one of our most sought-after issues of the year.

I recently caught up with the Los Angeles curator to find out more about her role at the Hammer, her thoughts on living and working in L.A., and her fondness for emerging artists. More of our Q&A after the jump! 

EJG: The Hammer has long had one of the most significant contemporary art programs in Los Angeles. What's the most exciting thing about what you do at the museum?
AE: There is so much that is exciting at the Hammer, that’s it’s difficult to answer this question. I oversee our Hammer Projects series and also organize a lot of the Hammer Projects shows. We do anywhere from 8-10 of these single-gallery exhibitions a year in different spaces around the museum. The majority of our Hammer Projects focus on a single artist. The shows are tightly curated and usually present new work and are oftentimes the artist’s first museum show. We always have a Hammer Project on and around our large lobby wall, and these projects are particularly challenging and invigorating because they are commissioned new works and oftentimes the artist is pushing and stretching their work in new directions to fill what is a difficult but wonderful space. It’s rewarding to get to be a part of that process.

What role have emerging artists had in your time at the Hammer and in your career?
We are very committed to supporting the work of emerging artists at the Hammer. Los Angeles is a city filled with young artists, many of whom come to L.A. to go to one of the many fantastic art schools and then continue to live in the city. Our Hammer Projects series focuses primarily on emerging artists, and we have had a series of bi-annual exhibitions we call our Invitational that has always included emerging artists (the sixth one, which Douglas Fogle and I organized, was called All of this and nothing and just closed at the end of April). We have also just decided to do a survey of emerging and overlooked artists living in L.A. We are co-organizing this show with LA><ART and it will take place next summer.

Tell me about your path to the Hammer and Los Angeles. How do you like working in the arts on the Pacific Coast?
My first job out of graduate school, at the Center for Curatorial Studies at Bard College, was at the New Museum. I worked with Marcia Tucker and later Lisa Phillips, and Dan Cameron was the senior curator. I learned a great deal from all three of these important curators and the Museum was very formative for me.

I then worked for two years for Peter Norton, and then at the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington D.C. for four years before joining the Hammer two years ago. I absolutely love being in Los Angeles. It is a fascinating and very diverse and eclectic city that is full of amazing artists. The Hammer is an incredibly dynamic museum filled with smart people. It feels like we are constantly growing and challenging ourselves, constantly asking what a museum can be and how we can find new ways to support artists and their practices.

L.A. currently finds itself in a transitional moment when commercial galleries across the West Coast (and the country) are flooding to the city to set up shop. How have you seen the city's art scene grow in the last few years?
I still consider myself new to Los Angeles, so I’m not sure I am fully equipped to answer this question. My sense is that new galleries have opened, but a lot of galleries have also closed with the economic downturn. There are certainly many strong galleries in Los Angeles, including those that have been around for years and others that have opened recently. There are also very interesting artist-run spaces that come and go, and these are always something to keep an eye out for. L.A. has long been a great city for artists, and artists continue to move here and to set up their studios and their lives here. There is space, there are great museums, there is a sense of community (or many communities), and there is the possibility for dialogue across generations.

What are you most looking forward to in reviewing the Pacific Coast submissions?
I will be looking for artists with a strong voice (or as a colleague of mine says, strong “handwriting”), or put another way, an original vision. I will also look for skill and acuity within their chosen medium (or mediums) and a good use of materials.

The Pacific Coast Competition 2011, juried by Anne Ellegood, Senior Curator at the Hammer Museum, Los Angeles is accepting submissions through June 30 and is open to artists living in AK, CA, HI, OR, & WA. Apply online!

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