Bettina Korek, For Your Art, Entrepreneur

imgresI have been getting emails from For Your Art for years but never met the founder.  Lucky for me someone asked me if I would be interested in meeting Bettina Korek who is not only the woman behind For Your Art but she is pushing Los Angeles to think about the importance of art and society.  She grew up in Los Angeles but her return to LA after college was perfect timing as LA has literally grown in leaps and bounds from new museums to an influx of young artists who are settling there creating a big art community.

Bettina grew up in Van Nuys first and then Westwood.  Her mother is a graphic designer that introduced her to a sensitive life.  Her father came to LA knowing nobody and built his own business as a land broker organizing sales of big properties for development.  Reality is both of her parents are entrepreneurs so it is not so surprising that Bettina ventured out on her own quite soon in her career.

Bettina had taken art history classes in high school and was very passionate about it but found herself at Princeton majoring in economics which she deemed sensible.  In high school she was also a serious volleyball player a sport that is big in LA.  My nieces, who are in LA, both play volleyball. Between her freshman and sophomore summer she took an internship at Bear Sterns.  She had never been in an environment like that and was struck by how narrow it felt.  It was definitely not for her.  The narrow range of individuality in a business that did not seem particularly female friendly was not an atmosphere she would thrive in.  She returned to Princeton and switched her major to art history.

Junior year she spent in Paris studying French and spending endless hours in museums and galleries.  She took to heart what Mary Weatherford says, “people don’t appreciate that galleries are a free way to see amazing art.”  She returned from Paris to finish school and write her thesis. Her advisor was super intense.  Bettina wanted to write about the connection between art and fashion but her advisor pushed her otherwise.  She ended up writing about Warhol and through that it became more clear to her how artists can become part of daily life.

After graduating she moved back to LA.  A smart move as the art culture was starting to change dramatically.  Bettina landed a job at LACMA working for Kevin Salatino. He encouraged her to experiment to the degree you can in a museum.  She learned how museums are supported and how people get involved in them.  Kevin had a desire to connect and share his knowledge with people and that influence was felt.

While she was at LACMA Bettina worked in the prints and drawings department and communications and development where she started the young patrons group.  She reached out to many people she had grown up with who did not even know where LACMA was.  She was exposed to corporate partners and how different departments interact with each other.  Those processes changed her career as she became to understand how to work with people on the other side of the table.

Bettina had informally started to talk to people about what was happening in LA with a weekly email.  It was generally about 2-3 openings worth seeing and then the email began to grow.  She wanted to combine her experience in the art world and access to information with others just like Salatino had done.  She never wanted to use her name but create something that could live on forever without her involvement.  It was about bringing access to writers, curators and collectors by communicating what people are looking at from galleries to artistic projects in garages.  The content really evolved organically.

She had been at LACMA for five years and felt it was time to take For Your Art to another level. She was hired as a consultant for a variety of different organizations from Getty to Google as a producer on several art projects.  The intension was always to be mobile and fluid in all the work she did with these companies.  She was making an impact in LA through her guidance and her email.  She is giving people a window into what is happening in the LA art community. For Your Art is giving artists a platform so they can part of society sharing her desire to provide access to others to have conversations around the art.

Bettina began working with LA tourism.  She says that LA’s sensibility is flat and non- hierarchical.  The city’s desire to bring in tourism through the arts is helping evolve the landscape for patrons and artists while supporting public projects and alike.  Art pushes endless curiosity.  The importance of art for society is becoming more apparent as we are seeing museums numbers grow in force and the landscape of collectors grow.  On the other hand it is becoming more difficult for artists to make an income. These artists are thinkers, strugglers and doers.  Bettina quoted Jonathan Lethem who says “context is half the work”.

I loved talking about where the art world is going with Bettina.  Her passion about the opportunity to be involved in cultural tourism projects in public places is powerful.  For Your Art has grown over the past ten years now with a staff of four.  Los Angeles is lucky to have her.  She is sitting behind the explosion of the art scene in LA sharing information, knowledge and thinking about how to connect people through art without anyone knowing it is Bettina Korek behind many of these projects.  Impressive entrepreneur.