A Q&A with the Broad’s Founding Director Joanne Heyler
To continue our celebration of the Broad’s First Anniversary, we had Chef Timothy Hollingsworth sit down with Joanne Heyler to reflect on the past year, discuss new directions, and learn about some of her favorites.
TH: The museum has a lot of social media influencers walking through everyday, and the Infinity room specifically has become a staple on Instagram- have you ever taken a selfie inside there?
JH: Believe it or not, I haven’t, but that’s not because I am a purist or a luddite. Maybe I will take one to celebrate The Broad’s one year anniversary. I think the way that The Broad museum has been discovered by so many people because of the photos shared by their friends on social media is great. Because capacity is limited and the artwork is so beautiful, the Kusama room has become a trophy social media image: it says “I got in!” I like the enthusiasm and I hope that many of our visitors who experienced the Infinity room will come to our Kusama survey in late 2017 and learn about the artist in depth.
TH: We all know that Otium is your favorite restaurant in LA, but what’s your #2?
JH: Well I just moved from west LA to South Pasadena so I am getting to know what my new restaurant options are close to home. Downtown is more within reach for me than ever. When I am out without my kids I like Redbird and Factory Kitchen. With family in tow, of course Grand Central Market is great because everyone can get what they want. And, also with family, I really love La Casita Mexicana in Bell, or, of course, Barrel and Ashes – your “other” restaurant, a BBQ joint in Studio City!
TH: The museum had a successful summer, gathering the community together for concerts, family weekend workshops, and screenings. What can we look forward to in 2017? Perhaps an Otium dinner & a movie on the plaza?
JH: Our programs have been so successful bringing visitors to the museum and activating the collection by bringing new and unexpected voices into dialogue with it. The line-up for 2017 is still being set, but the last installment Ava DuVernay’s film series called ARRAY at The Broad will happen in late 2016 or early 2017, and dinner beforehand is a great idea since the movie screening is followed by an always-fascinating panel discussion, so sustenance is key.
TH: I’ve heard that the collection grows by about an artwork a week; any new directions or artists you’re scouting out for this upcoming year?
JH: Opening a museum and having so much gallery space where the collection can really breathe, and you live with things over time, can be really instructive. Seeing almost all of the Cindy Sherman works altogether on view this summer was incredible. For years, I’d been reciting this growing figure as we added her work – “we have over 100 Sherman works, over 110, over 120…” But to see it all together, laid out with Cindy’s guidance, the actual objects, telling a story, and demonstrating the magic that happens when a collector really devotes him or herself to a specific artist, there is no substitute for that. The more recent artists whose work we’ve begun to collect like that would include Mark Bradford, Takashi Murakami, Julie Mehretu, John Currin and many others. We keep our eyes on their works and some of them have gallery shows of new work opening this fall…so we will see.
TH: What is the most unexpected or surprising thing you have encountered over the past year?
JH: Without a doubt the persistence of the line of visitors stretching around the block. We did not fully anticipate the public’s embrace of the museum, and there could not have been a more fantastic surprise. Even more encouraging is the high proportion of repeat visitors we are starting to see. I am so proud of the work that we are doing here making art so accessible to a wide—and youthful—audience, and the enthusiasm inspires me to keep on top of our game, so a visit to The Broad will always offer fresh ideas and perspectives.
TH: Creature will be opening soon, and it’s definitely a different take on the Broad collection. What do you hope visitors will get out of it?
JH: The Creature installation will further introduce visitors to the breadth of our holdings with many works that have not been seen before in LA. Our hope is that it will be a thought provoking installation, showing a dimension of the collection never really explored in depth. The notion of the Creature – of the elusive boundaries between our civilized and raw selves –is really an ancient one, the timing is significant, as the show opens three days before the Presidential elections – a particularly poignant time to take stock of the many varied forms humanity can take and the interconnectedness of it all.
TH: Current artwork at the Broad
JH: I love so many artworks in the collection it is impossible to pick just one. But I can say that I love the massive photographic Cindy Sherman murals that open our Cindy Sherman show on the first floor, on view until October 2nd.
TH: Food-related artwork at the Broad
JH: No actual food is depicted, but the image of Norm’s restaurant on fire in Ed Ruscha’s Norm’s, La Cienega, on fire is easily, for me, the most compelling food-related artwork on view in the museum now.
TH: Dish at Otium
JH: Kind of like picking a favorite artwork in the Broad collection, it is hard to choose from the rotating seasonal menu at Oitum. I do love the amberjack with yuzu, plum, and chicharron, and order it often because the combination of textures is so precisely balanced and unlike anything I’ve ever tasted anywhere.
TH: Grand Avenue Activity
JH: Grand Avenue has so much to offer. It’s like a city street gradually shedding the corporate suit it’s worn for years and finally letting some personality show. From Grand Park to The LA Phil, the La Opera, and of course MOCA are all great. I like approaching Walt Disney Concert Hall and The Broad by car on Grand from the East. There’s a beautiful, distinctive cityvscape vista that I am very proud to have had any part in creating.
Photo Credit: Adrian Gaut