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My LA To Z: Bettina Korek
The impresario of the whimsical arts organization ForYourArt expresses her appreciation for all things L.A., including where she goes for art spotting, corn dogs, and piñatas
Imagine underground parking, a 15-minute art tour, courtyard lunch from Ammo and, if you have time, a stroll for ice cream. Enter the Hammer Museum. go for a lunchtime art talk, a meal at Ammo, and Saffron and Rose ice cream on Westwood Boulevard.
Baldwin Hills Scenic Overlook
There are two paths for this hill: up the stairs or around a road. When I first saw this particular view of Los Angeles, I thought of author Mike Davis’ observation that the city is “infinitely envisioned” and that creates the possibility of always seeing a new view of it. This literally was a new perspective for me. Sometimes I like to stop at Arcana bookstore in Culver City after a walk to see if there are any good art books on sale; it’s a good idea to visit there often.
Grand Central Market
Grand Central Market is great for when you’re downtown and wondering where to eat lunch. The cobb salad at Valerie, the brisket and mac and cheese at Horse Thief, and the coffee milkshake at G&B Coffee are my favorites. If you feel like an adventure, ride Angel’s Flight, the “shortest railway in the world.” It's right across the street.
I find myself craving their coconut kale smoothie whenever I’m driving in the Silver Lake neighborhood. Some find it a bit earthy, but the coconut makes it even better if you’re having trouble getting it down. It’s a great place to discover new “healthy” cookies, and the serve-yourself-bar is a helpful distraction when there’s a long line (which is often). Forage is across the street; sometimes they have a fantastic cronut there.
356 S. Mission Road
Along with Gavin Brown, artist Laura Owens turned her Boyle Heights studio into a gallery, inaugurating the space last year with 12 of her paintings that appeared on the cover of Artforum and were credited with moving the medium forward. The exhibition warehouse and industrial space is literally fronted by Wendy Yao’s second Ooga Booga bookstore location. The second exhibition, an installation of Sturtevant’s Finite/Infinite, a large-scale projection of a dog running in an endless loop across an expanse of grass, is also fantastic.
Santa Monica Pier
It’s always fun to go to the Pier and get lost among the tourists. Watch or ride the classic carousel, which has the feel of romance from another time, and there’s the Ferris wheel. Walk to the Pier’s end to find people fishing and lovers kissing, and head across the street to Tongva Park, designed by the team behind the High Line in New York, to enjoy the view from one of the observation pods. My favorite place to go for a snack is Hot Dog on a Stick.
Highland and Santa Monica
When Shaun Regen moved her gallery to Santa Monica Boulevard and Highland Avenue last year, she was credited with transforming the intersection into a new art district. I recommend starting there, then crossing Santa Monica and visiting Redling Fine Art in the mini-mall across the street. Then swing by Perry Rubenstein Gallery, and finish your route at Hannah Hoffman Gallery.
Echo Park Lake
I love walking around Echo Park Lake. Hipsters lawn bowling, family reunions, and couples having picnics; it’s a great snapshot of L.A.'s diversity and feels like a little slice of paradise, especially with the lilies. When it was recently restored, the sublime Lady of the Lake statue was returned to its original position, facing north and looking away from the lake.
A recent visit to the Getty Villa in the Pacific Palisades with my friend, artist Alex Israel, reminded me how magical it can be. It’s not just the kind of place you save for friends who are visiting. The Villa is a re-creation of the Villa of Papyri, a large country house on the slopes of Vesuvius that was destroyed when the volcano erupted. Looking at the Pacific Ocean from this perch, which feels like how the ancient Romans imagined their ideal surroundings, is uniquely L.A.
The Piñata District
I first visited "piñata land," the area near Olympic Boulevard and Central Avenue, on a tour with the great cultural anthropologist and L.A. treasure, Taschen’s Jim Heimann. It’s fun to explore the stands, filled with candy, toys and every kind of piñata that you can imagine. There is also a lot of street food; I go for tacos and churros. A short walk away, you can see the old Coca-Cola bottling plant that was designed to look like a giant steam ship with portholes.
Photograph (9) courtesy wikipedia.org; all other photographs courtesy facebook.com