Public Engagement Flash Talk on Jim Hodges, the dark gate

  • to This is a past program

Public Engagement Flash Talks provide an opportunity for visitors to glean a unique perspective on art works displayed in the galleries through speakers who are connected to the art in sometimes unusual ways.

For this talk on Jim Hodges, the dark gate, 2008, artist and scent expert, Steven Gontarski, will delve into the history of the Shalimar perfume that Hodges included within the installation and discuss how scent is able to evoke deep emotions in viewers.


Steven Gontarski graduated from Brown University and earned his Masters of Fine Art at Goldsmiths College, University of London.  Based in the United Kingdom for ten years, Gontarski established a studio practice and exhibited his sculptures, drawings and paintings worldwide.  His work has been included in solo and group exhibitions at Institute of Contemporary Art (London); Kunsthalle Wien (Vienne); White Cube (London); Matthew Marks (New York) and Groninger Museum among other leading contemporary art institutions worldwide.

In 2007, Gontarski returned to his native US to continue his art practice and to explore other passions, particularly perfumery.  In 2010 he was asked to manage Scent Bar, the only brick-and-mortar embodiment of the luckyscent website.  Scent Bar has become a destination for perfume afficionados the world over and a meeting place / resource for members of the scent community who otherwise rely heavily on the internet for interaction.  In addition to overseeing the daily operations at one of the premier stores for independent, niche perfumes, Gontarski runs the Luckyscent Video Progam and coordinates a series of social events at Scent Bar designed to celebrate new perfumes, educate scent enthusiasts and introduce them to world-class perfumers.

Part of the curatorial department, the Public Engagement program collaborates with artists to develop and present works that create an exchange with the institution and with visitors. Enacted both inside and outside the galleries, Public Engagement projects range from re-envisioned security guard uniforms to library and orchestra residencies. The Hammer Museum's Public Engagement program is supported, in part, by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors through the Los Angeles County Arts Commission.