Bettina Korek is the proverbial “woman about town,” though which town she’s about may well change from one day to the next. Founder of ForYourArt, she’s based in Los Angeles, where she and her team strive to spread the appreciation and support of art, but she’s also actively engaged in projects around the world: New York, Spain, Switzerland, and beyond.

Bettina and Base spent a moment in LA recently, talking about art, design, marketing, audience development, and technology. We’ll be seeing more of her in May, when we participate together on a panel about “stealing” from contemporary culture during the annual American Association of Museums conference, also in LA.

Base: You talk a lot about how effective public art can be in LA, mostly related to the driving culture. What is the most influential public art project you have seen in LA?
Bettina Korek: When I worked in LACMA’s (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) communications office, we discussed research that indicated people consider, “am I going to go to LACMA or to The Grove [a high-end, indoor-outdoor, walking mall]?” With cultural institutions having to compete with commercial and popular culture this way, public art is an important part of surprising people in their daily lives at a time when it’s more and more difficult to get people to change their routines. The impact of public art will be felt over time as more producers and curators perform this, and as artist Fritz Haeg aptly calls it “cultural acupuncture”—so every project has a meaningful impact.


Billboard by Kenneth Anger for “How Many Billboards?”, an exhibition produced by the MAK Center for Art and Architecture and supported by ForYourArt. Photo: Gerard Smulevich

B: You speak to the belief that the art scene in LA is growing because cultural players are starting to realize that they can make art on their own terms, that they can exist in a city that has always been associated with the entertainment community. Do you see a time when these two communities can benefit from each other in terms of support and collaboration?
BK: Absolutely. The term “artist” has come to mean so many things and is used increasingly by the entertainment world. I think that in order for the relationship to shift, these communities need to come together in the spirit of creative collaboration that is mutually beneficial as opposed to one asking the other for money.

billboards 2

Billboard by Kerry Tribe for “How Many Billboards?” Photo: Gerard Smulevich.

B: What is your opinion on how the arrival of Jeffrey Deitch will change the art scene in LA?
BK: Jeffrey Deitch is another in a series of recent arrivals—from Michael Govan, Matthew Marks, L&M, Saatchi, who have their online offices here—that prove that the “scene” in Los Angeles is a hotbed. I look forward to seeing how MOCA relates and engages under Jeffrey’s leadership.

Doug Aitken

Artist Doug Aitken at the launch of his book “Write-In Jerry Brown President” that ForYourArt organized with MoMA’s Library Council. They also worked to launch Aitken’s “99 Cent Dreams” in New York the year before.

B: You spoke about the challenges of the LA art scene compared to cities such as NY, but what do you see as the biggest advantage?
BK: Los Angeles is basically a series of connected suburbs and is also much younger than New York. LACMA was started in 1965, whereas The Met opened in its original location in 1872. So this scene is still in its nascent stages. I think the Getty’s 2011 initiative “Pacific Standard Time” will be key in changing people’s general consciousness about LA. As Hans Ulrich Obrist likes to say, “it’s only just begun.”

B: If you could choose just one, what is the single most thing you would like to see change in the next five years in the LA art scene?
BK: A continued effort by artists to engage with the public sphere.


The inspiration for The Protest Against Forgetting. ForYourArt recreated these Walter Hopps buttons in honor of the late great curator.

B: How do you respond to the school of thought that LA is not ready for the global art market?
BK: The global art market will encourage further growth.

B: Do you think that the slower culture of LA will slow down the development of the art scene (for instance, in contrast to NY)?
BK: Not at all. Artists are attracted to Los Angeles because of the vastness; space allows things to develop. I think slow is a good thing.


Ruben Ochoa and Mark Bradford’s LACMA-sponsored installation at the Charles White Elementary School on the roof of the Standard Downtown. These are Ochoa’s “Dancing PoPos,” inspired by the police who patrol around the school.

B: What are you currently reading?
BK: “Museum Memories: History, Technology, Art” by Didier Maleuvre and “Slow Days, Fast Company” by Eve Babitz, who I am researching for “Pacific Standard Time.”

B: Where do you see yourself in ten years?
BK: In a world where museums have as many followers on Twitter as movie stars.

Read part 1 of this interview here.