"If you want a recommendation, call me. I have opinions."
MONOGRAM: List your name, profession, and place of residence:
CHELSEA BECK, Assistant Curator for Special Projects at The Broad museum, Los Angeles.
MONOGRAM: What's the best part of your job?
CHELSEA: The best part of my job is that I get to look at and think about art a lot! I never take for granted that I can walk up one flight of stairs and be in a gallery full of Ellsworth Kellys. Planning and executing exhibitions with the incredible team of people working at The Broad is also really inspiring.
MONOGRAM: Are there any up-and-coming artists whose work you love?
CHELSEA: I really loved the Calvin Marcus show I saw at David Kordansky gallery earlier this year. Really weird, out-there, good stuff!
MONOGRAM: If you could curate the group show of your dreams, whose work / what pieces would it include?
CHELSEA: This is really tough! Hard to say “dream show” but it would be an awesome show indeed: I love Philip Guston’s later work, the really vulnerable stuff—that could be the backbone of the show—then with maybe Tala Madani’s paintings, Brian Bress videos, Mike Kelley, and Nicole Eisenman, to name a few.
MONOGRAM: How do you know when you’re looking at good art?
CHELSEA: When I get confused and begin to perspire. When I’ve thought something I’ve never thought before. When I try to describe it to someone else and realize I’ve been babbling excitedly for 10 minutes and the person who I’m talking to is scanning the room for the closest exit.
MONOGRAM: Are there any current art trends that you’re way into right now? Any that you wish would go away?
CHELSEA: I like dance and comedy performances, so I’m glad those forms are being explored by lots of artists right now. Art is rarely belly-laugh funny. It’s more like laugh-under-your-breath funny, so I’m curious if art can be truly an LOL affair. I admire artists for trying! This trend might be totally over by now, but I got pretty tired of artists appropriating Modernist forms.
MONOGRAM: If you could have a piece from the Broad in your home, what would you choose and why?
CHELSEA: That’s really tough because there is so much incredible work in the collection. Right now I’m feeling Jeff Wall’s The Giant (1992). We don’t have any figurative work up in our house so it would be an auspicious beginning to hang a work with a giant naked older woman in it. It would be good for my boys to grow up around.
MONOGRAM: As a follow-up, which piece would you most like to see as a t-shirt graphic?
CHELSEA: The Shop at The Broad has turned one of my favorite artworks into a t-shirt graphic, Mirror #1 (1969) by Roy Lichtenstein which I wear all the time. Many Ed Ruscha works would make great t-shirts - Hollywood is a Verb (1979) or Bloated Empire (1996-97) come to mind.
MONOGRAM: Why do so many people in the art world wear all black?
CHELSEA: Hmm, good question! Maybe it’s for contrast - wearing black makes you stand out in front of a white gallery wall and if the art has color there’s no chance of clashing with it. But I also think this trend is dying, at least in LA it is. It seems like a vestige from a time when cigarette smoking, macho, loner types, had to prove to the world how serious they were, and how frivolous fashion and color were. I look forward to a time when black is no longer seen as a more sophisticated color to wear. I do like monochromatic dressing though.
MONOGRAM: Tell us about your favorite vintage t-shirt. How and when did you acquire it?
CHELSEA: I don’t know where it came from, because it’s so old. It’s faded dark blue with a skier jumping in front of a big orange setting sun. I am not a skier, but there’s something about the graphic that makes me remember what it was like to be 12 years old. I guess it provides some happy nostalgia—which I don’t indulge in very often—and of course it’s supremely comfortable.
MONOGRAM: What’s your favorite way to style a t-shirt?
CHELSEA: I mostly wear them as laying pieces under jackets for work with some jewelry. Recently I’ve been wearing them on their own tucking them into pencil skirts and high-waisted pants.
MONOGRAM: Lightening round: describe yourself in terms of the following…
COLOR: My husband says red or purple even though I don’t wear either
ERA: Late 70 / Early 80s
FETISH: Strange little tattoos, especially old faded ones that look like green smears
LOCATION: Maine or Mexico—I deal in extremes
OBJECT: Is it weird to say my husband? It’s sexy to objectify the man you love.
VEHICLE: A Eurovan or a vintage Porsche 911—more inner conflict
RITUAL: Breakfast at the Echo Park boathouse on Saturdays with my two little boys
TAGLINE: If you want a recommendation, call me. I have opinions.
PHOTOGRAPHY: Jason Frank Rothenberg