From The Desk Of: Chelsea Beck
May 12, 2016
Chelsea and I first met back at Bard College, where we both went for our undergraduate degrees. After receiving her MFA from Yale, Chelsea began a career as a curator, working for some incredible institutions around the country. Fast forward to her arrival LA where Beck began working at The Broad (which was at that point still in their smaller, private campus in Santa Monica) and her and I got the chance to reconnect. I was immediately enthralled by her art world accomplishments. We sat down with Chelsea to learn more about what the transition from artist to curator was like, and how she finds creativity in her every day.
What’s on your desk?
Notepads, pens, a desk and cell phone, tissues, mail, books, files, headphones, water bottle, a computer--it's untidy at the moment.
Fill in the blank: "I don't show up at a meeting without _________."
Water, a notepad, pen, and my phone
What's on your reading list?
Dorothy Iannone: You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends by Trinie Dalton / Dead Elvis: A Chronicle of a Cultural Obsession by Greil Marcus
What are the apps you can’t live without?
The Broad Museum App / Waze / Class Pass / Instagram / Spotify / Weather Bug
What’s in heavy rotation on your Spotify/iTunes/SoundCloud/record collection?
Lower Dens / Elvis / Kendrick Lamar
What’s in your bag/always on your person?
My phone and water bottle
I'd always... / I'd never...
Say yes to a walk / I'd never take an elevator down for only one flight
I'd write to... / I would love to get a letter from…
Since he recently passed he's been on my mind, the incredible Gary Shandling. The Larry Sanders Show is the only DVD box set I own.
I'd pay good money for... / Wouldn't take even if free...
Shoes / flip flops
I'm a true believer in... / Major skeptic about...
The power of a good smile / The firmness of a handshake as a measure of character
Subject I won’t shut up about lately... / Subject I avoid...
Museum audio tours and how to make them great / I try not to talk about my kids too much when they're not around. But look, I'm doing it now and it's because they really are adorable geniuses.
Constantly craving... / Don't see the appeal of...
Dark Chocolate / Scones
_____ always inspires / ______ totally sucks
Good conversation / Status updates
Skills mastered... / I can't quite get the hang of...
Doing everything one handed because I am holding a baby in one arm / Controlling things with my mind because I have 2 babies in my arms
Describe your personal aesthetic in three words:
Graphic, relaxed, composed
Describe the creative space at your company:
Our new office space at The Broad is really clean and open. Although it's really pretty quiet most of the time other than the tapping of fingers on keyboards people can quickly gather for impromptu brainstorming or problem solving with people inside or outside of their team, the environment feels collaborative. But you must overcome your fear of having everyone else in the office hear you on the phone.
What are your design inspirations?
My mom has a great eye for color and mixing different periods and styles of things together. Her living room is painted an almost florescent green color and it looks really chic somehow. Pairings of things that don't work together, working together inspires me--when it looks so wrong it's right.
How does one tap into their creative side?
Indulge in bad ideas.
What’s the motto/life philosophy/advice you live by?
Saying yes leads to more opportunities than saying no.
What is your favorite aspect of the job you do?
Thinking about art deeply, getting to study a unique collection of works, and figuring out ways to help make innovative connections between the public and their understanding of art in our collection
The paper product I can’t live without is ____ and I use it to _____.
Notepads or scraps of paper. I jot down random thoughts, ideas, lists, and doodles. Doodles are the windows to the soul.
What career moves and/or aspirations brought you to your current role?
I've always loved looking and thinking about art. I used to be an artist myself, but I am better at looking outward and working with people rather than diving into the rabbit hole necessary to make brave, compelling art. Making that transition from artist to curator was hard. I had to be honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses. I pursued "foot in the door" assistant jobs and pounced on every curatorial nugget that came my way.
Share an insight on your life or life in general that you’ve discovered:
Life is happening now, not sometime in the future.
When do you feel like you’re at your best?
Good sleep, good people, and good food are in abundance.
Describe a typical day at work:
I'm mostly writing emails, in meetings, and occasionally on the phone. On a great day I get to look at art. Recently I've been teaching our Visitor Service Associates about how to lead public tours of the collection, which has been really rewarding.
What do you love about what your company brings to its clients?
The Broad is getting huge diverse crowds of people looking at contemporary art. We are blowing minds, converting skeptics, and inspiring people to look and think outside of their comfort zone.
Tell us about your latest printed project:
My latest printed project was not work related at all. I sent out holiday cards and save the dates, and now we are working on our wedding party invitations.
What is your favorite aspect of your job?
I love walking through the galleries and seeing people looking closely at something or reading an object label. I like seeing people take the time to really allow themselves to have an art experience.
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