Eve Babitz, the intrepid author and unofficial muse and midwife to L.A.'s 1960s nascent modern art scene, helped transport a Wednesday night Hammer Museum audience back to the psychedelic era when Ed Ruscha, Ed Kienholz, Robert Irwin, David Hockney, Stephen Stills and Jim Morrison were cruising the Sunset Strip and making pop-culture history.
Her interlocutor onstage was Hunter Drohojowska-Philp, a journalist, occasional L.A. Times contributor and author of the just-published "Rebels in Paradise: The Los Angeles Art Scene and the 1960s." The Hammer event served as an unofficial launch for Pacific Standard Time, a marathon initiative of art exhibitions, performances, lectures and screenings focused on L.A.'s emergence as a major art-production center in the years between 1945 and 1980.
Funded by the Getty Foundation, Pacific Standard Time will take place this fall and winter at 60 venues across Southern California, including the Getty, the Hammer and LACMA.
In an interview before the talk at the Hammer's Billy Wilder Theater, Drohojowska-Philp said that when she began researching her book she hadn't planned for its publication to coincide with Pacific Standard Time. But her editor and publisher saw the mega-art-happening's potential and pushed for a summer release date.
"After I finished my book on Georgia O'Keeffe I was looking to do another book, and really the only book that came up for me was a book about L.A. and the '60s. And I did an interview with Walter Hopps, and the week after I interviewed him he passed away," Drohojowska-Philp said of the well-known art curator and co-founder of L.A.'s Ferus gallery. "And I thought, well, that's really a sign that we need to tell these stories before these incredible people [disappear]."