Curator’s Circle and Avant-Garde members provide critical support for education, conservation, and exhibitions at LACMA, but they also form two thriving social communities at the museum that unite people from various industries and backgrounds over a shared interest in art. We had the opportunity to speak with Curator’s Circle co-chairs Lindsey Karatz and Spencer Rudin, and Avant-Garde co-chairs Ilir Lita and Gabrielle Bird-Vogel about the multifaceted impact that supporting LACMA has had on their lives.
For many supporters, LACMA offers a sense of belonging. After attending a museum event with her mother-in-law, Janet Dreisen Rapapport, Curator’s Circle co-chair Lindsey Karatz says she “loved Janet’s connection to the museum and the people who were part of it, and instantly grew to appreciate this amazing institution.” Ilir Lita returned to L.A. wanting something to anchor him to the city, and found LACMA spoke to him in a new way. Even for those native to Los Angeles, LACMA has a unique appeal, as Curator’s Circle co-chair Spencer Rudin remarks, “I’ve always had a gravitational pull towards LACMA. Growing up whenever I wanted a little touch of artistic inspiration LACMA was always my first stop.”
Now, all four co-chairs have found a vibrant community through their support of Curator’s Circle and Avant-Garde. For Gabrielle, who is also a board member of the Hollywood Bowl Committee, diversity and youthful enthusiasm have made a positive personal impact. “Participating in a community of young people who are passionate about the arts and education has been especially rewarding,” she said. Ilir agrees that “large cities like L.A. have a tendency to feel anonymous, sometimes faceless. Avant-Garde is the best way to meet other people interested in culture but who are approaching it from different entry points.” Lindsey acknowledges how LACMA can also strengthen your existing community. “LACMA feels like part of my family’s culture. It feels like a place that we spend time together and re-connect.”
Engaging with LACMA is an important source of relaxation and inspiration for the Curator’s Circle co-chairs. Spencer calls LACMA his “happy place,” a space free of constraints, barriers, or boundaries to creative expression and beauty. Lindsey agrees that LACMA Curator’s Circle provides her with “a level of satisfaction and intrigue” that she does not get from any other interest of hers. “It’s refreshing and inspiring.”
The benefits of Curator’s Circle and Avant-Garde extend beyond the museum campus. As Ilir describes, “I love the behind-the-scenes access to the studios of cultural practitioners like Kenny Scharf, Zoe Crosher, and Ry Rocklen.” Gabrielle also remembers the visit to Kenny Scharf’s studio as “an incomparable experience.” Lindsey’s favorite memory is a Curator’s Circle studio visit with Nancy Rubin in Topanga Canyon. “I love hearing intimately from the curators... I left completely inspired, ready to drop everything and move to Topanga Canyon.” Curator-led walkthroughs are also a favorite. “The first experience that really stole my heart in Curator’s Circle was the curator-led walkthrough of David Hockney: 82 Portraits and 1 Still-life,” said Spencer. “Hearing personal stories about David’s life during the creation of this show, and background about his life during the time he created the pieces, brought a whole new perspective to the art.”
In addition to supporting LACMA’s mission, membership in Curator’s Circle and Avant-Garde compliments our co-chairs’ personal passions and additional philanthropy. Ilir shared, “Through my work at the Mayor’s Fund, my civic engagement, and my philanthropic support of higher education, I hope I am providing opportunities and access for future generations. The very important work LACMA does by way of cultural preservation, cultural access, and education for visitors of all ages is part and parcel of that legacy.” The shared vision for supporting diverse arts initiatives among our members creates connectivity throughout Los Angeles. “This access to education is incredibly meaningful to students who may not have ample opportunities,” said Gabrielle. “I have found that through LACMA and the LA Phil, I am able to do my part ensuring a strong fabric of education in L.A.”
When considering who these groups are best suited for, the answer is anyone with a curiosity and passion for the art and artists that LACMA works with. “Curator’s Circle is, in my mind, for art patrons who care about every aspect of the artist, from their studio and story to their works and shows,” said Spencer. “It’s a place where a patron’s mind can come to blossom and learn new things about artists that they’ve never had access to before.” Similarly, Lindsey finds that her involvement provides value for her entire family. “I can’t tell you how much I love going to LACMA with my son. He has learned so much at the Curator’s Circle events. Looking at art and speaking to the curators opens discussions with my son that I might not normally have.”
If you are interested in supporting education, conservation, and exhibitions at LACMA, while participating in one of these patron groups, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org! You can also visit the Avant-Garde and Curator’s Circle pages for more information.