This Home Is Full of Works by L.A.’s Best Artists

Walking into Bettina Korek’s home is like taking a contemporary art history course.

By: Tara Gonzalez
Photography: Cibelle Levi

When your friends are artists and your home is filled with so much of their work that you barely have room for more, it’s okay if a sculpture is leaning against the wall or if a painting isn’t hanging completely straight. These are things we learned from Bettina Korek, the founder of For Your Art, who has pieces from John Baldessari and Alex Israel in her home but doesn’t consider herself a collector. That’s because she has a personal connection to each piece she owns, most of which are by young emerging L.A. artists that she’s worked with.

Bettina’s relaxed relationship with her pieces at home is an extension of her work with For Your Art, whose goal is to make art more approachable and accessible in L.A. Aside from throwing interactive events with artists, they also provide a curated weekly guide of all the must-see shows in the area. On February 24th at the L.A. Art Book Fair they’ll even be throwing a donut party (yes, you read that right) to release their printed guide of 150 art spaces around Los Angeles.

And although most people like to keep work and home separate, Bettina cannot find a way to divide the two. Her daily gallery and art show visits remind her of the pieces she has at home, whereas the Ken Price drawing on her wall reminds her of the palm trees dotting the Los Angeles horizon. At the end of the day she sees art as something that should be fun, not fragile. After seeing her space for ourselves, it’s safe to say Bettina shouldn’t change a thing, not the art, not the reminders of L.A., and certainly not the sculpture leaning up against the wall.

Scroll through to see Bettina’s art-filled space and read how her grandma’s Andy Warhol used to scare her, why L.A. is actually just like a cinnamon roll, and the best online resources for adding art into your home.

“I remember going to LACMA with my mom to see the David Hockney show. The Mulholland Drive: The Road to the Studio was in that show. My mom and I were always driving up the hill, and seeing that through David Hockney’s eyes just changed my whole worldview. That was definitely the beginning of when I was interested in art.”

“I spend a lot of time in my bed! I love to be in bed, I would say. I read a lot in bed, I work in bed, I watch TV in bed. I just put a TV in my living room because my friends insisted so I would spend more time there. [laughs] But really I am out a lot, so I think when I am home I am really in relax mode.”

“I have my grandmother’s Andy Warhol Greta Garbo. Growing up it actually always sorta scared me. When I slept in the room that it was in, I would cover it up with a sheet [laughs]! But now I live with it. The Andy Warhol was the big thing. She always talks about how her husband thought she was so crazy for buying it, but she loved it so much.”

“The spirit of For Your Art is to really try and to be a friendly guide! We do a couple of events that bring sweets together with projects. So we do the 24-hour donut party. Artists’ books and cookies. I’m not interested in replicating what already goes on in Museum and Gallery settings but rather being that more friendly, fun invitation to things, so that people can realize there are many art worlds. The key is to find the one that is going to enrich your life the most.”

“My mom was very minimal, which I definitely also tend to be more. Not too much art in my house growing up but my mom was really into books and she was always into sketching. She was very interested in architecture.”

“I also love to go to art bookstores or see the catalogues at LACMA. The DAP store at Hauser Wirth & Schimmel. Hennessey + Ingalls. I love to just go and look through books!”

“I love Mary Weatherford’s cave painting. She is someone who I’m friends with, and getting to live with such a great work of hers that is not only transitional for her in terms of her process, but for me it reflected when I got it and making that decision and committing to care for something like that! It’s something a lot of people don’t talk about. Art, there is a physical responsibility to taking care of it! [laughs] I don’t know how else to put it. When you are more like me, my space is completely full!”

“I think that art and artists’ books are a similar thing. Whenever I go to an exhibition that I love, I get the book and I think of that for gifts for people. My friend, Karen Marta, who is an editor, she always gives the most thoughtful books to people. I really like those more personal exchanges that you can make. The L.A. Art Book Fair you can not only get a snapshot of the landscape and the breath of what is being produced in the printed form, there is definitely something for everyone there! You can just spend hours, whether you want to find out-of-print exhibition catalogues or go through a bunch of zines. There is a lot there!”

“I’m not so precious with things! Yeah, you want to take care of things. I realized yesterday that one of my sculptures is leaning against the wall when it shouldn’t be and another has a piece on the ground when it shouldn’t be. I have this amazing sculpture, it’s cinder blocks that are painted on the inside and when you stack them up it’s an earthquake hazard, so I keep the top one on the ground! [laughs] So yeah, I’m not so precious.”

“A place to go to discover new things is Ooga Booga, which is Wendy Yao’s bookstore. She has two locations, one in Chinatown and one in Mission Road. I think that is a great place to discover small, less well-known projects and people. She has an amazing eye!”

“I’ve been here for a while. It’s been very organic. My mom, the first furniture she bought was the first Roche Bobois couch, and so she gave that to me. That was my first piece of furniture. I’m often moving things around to try and make room, but I don’t think I can make any more room! [laughs] We’ll see! I love that for me, my place, I’ve had it so many different ways. I think how we move through our lives, your physical space is a reflection of what is going on, so I love to constantly be evolving the way things relate to each other and moving things around and trying to make more space, and I think it’s a never-ending process.”

“I love to look at old art and old issues of Art & Architecture magazine, which was published in Los Angeles, and Taschen reissued them awhile ago. I love to look at those for fun, old ads and images for inspiration.”

“Another event that we did when we opened our space across the street from LACMA was a 24-hour donut party to acknowledge the fact that people talk about Los Angeles as a ‘donut city,’ a city without a center. And the writer Norman Klein actually recently just said that L.A. has filled out, it’s more like a cinnamon roll. The idea of the donut as a provocation to talk about the city and the way that we all kinda envision this place, which is kinda...there are so many ways to imagine L.A., and so that was how we released our map. We are going to be doing another 24-hour donut party at the L.A. Book Fair this year.”

“Galleries provide such an important function in this ecosystem, they create a context! John Latham, who is an artist that I am really interested in, he is famous for saying ‘Context is half the work.’ As Art has been accepted more as a commodity, it’s a very personal decision people make in how they are going to approach it and the idea of art as a commodity, if that is part of the context for you or not. I think it’s a very personal connection.”

“I also have lots of prints and small drawings, and it’s complicated. But that is something that’s exciting about all these art spaces opening up. If you have a certain amount of money and you have a space and you want to just kinda find something online quickly, there are different ways to do that. Artsy has a really interesting search function. Paddle 8 is a wonderful way to buy art and support nonprofit organizations. Same with Art Space, it’s more affordable additions and art prints.”

“Even just putting something [in] your house or getting on the road to becoming a ‘collector.’ It’s a very [personal] journey, and depending on how much time or energy or money you are going to invest in it, there is a lot of nuanced decisions to think through! It’s most fun to say, ‘Oh, I found this piece of art’ and start going and seeing things! And trust your own taste. The more that you see, the more that you know what you like, and ultimately that is what is the most important.”

“Again, I think people who, and that’s a great distinction, if you want to just buy one thing for your house, what I always recommend to people who have the time is to start to go and see and engage more and see where that leads you. I always recommend to people in L.A. who want to be more familiar with what is going on but aren’t ready to hire an art advisor and wants this to be more of an activity to add to their weekend, is going and seeing things. Kinda go and figure out one or two or three galleries that you want to follow.”

“There is a great saying that ‘Art makes you wonder.’ I think it’s more important than ever to have some sort of practice in your life that is provoking you to think differently. Whether it’s going to galleries or museums or screenings or talks. The density of programming that is taking place not only in L.A. but everywhere. You can go online and find an endless stream of materials.”

“Yeah, I have lots of art, but it’s more personal things. Artists who I’m friends with or who I know. It’s mostly Los Angeles artists, and when I think about why I’m drawn to certain things, I think there are different parts of the L.A. landscape that I’m always trying to bring into my place. I have a big palm tree. I have a sculpture that was carved from a big telephone pole. I have Mary Weatherford’s cave painting. Jen Wheatley, who very much likes sand and pattern. I have a Ken Price drawing of the West Side that I really love. It’s very much personal and things that remind me of the city and that remind me of different times with artists.”

“That Ken Price drawing of the West Side, I think it’s very similar to the David Hockney, these are geographies that I experience every day over and over and over. Whenever I’m driving and I see the sun horizon and a bunch of palm trees dotting it, I always think of my Ken Price palm trees. It's very much about a personal experience.”

“I don’t consider myself a collector, I definitely have art mostly by people that I know and that I’m friends with or who I’ve done things with. The work that I have is really very personal, it’s things that mark a moment for me or people that I’ve known.”

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