Britt Salvesen is curator and head of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department and the Prints & Drawings Department at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Before joining a Zócalo/Getty “Open Art” panel discussion entitled “What Did Robert Mapplethorpe Teach Us?” she talked in the Zócalo green room about surfing, podcasts, and time travel.
I’ve heard that you’re a bike rider. What’s your favorite place to ride?
I used to ride a bit in Griffith Park because I live in Echo Park. But these days I’m doing a lot less biking because I’ve taken up surfing. I usually go to Seal Beach or Huntington Beach in Orange County.
What are you reading right now?
I’m reading a novel called The Fugitives by Christopher Sorrentino. It’s about a novelist who has retreated from Brooklyn to Michigan to work some things out.
Now that you’ve been in L.A. for a while, you probably have a good answer for this one: How do you pass the time when you’re stuck in traffic?
Podcasts. My favorite is How Did This Get Made? I also listen to Scriptnotes and Pop Culture Happy Hour.
What surprised you the most about L.A.?
I’d say the non-hierarchical aspect of the art community. It’s non-territorial. I love it that at any given art event you’ll find curators, artists, museum directors, and collectors all mixing. I really love that.
What’s your time travel fantasy?
The 1851 Crystal Palace Exhibition. It was a Victorian celebration of the state of the industry at that time, all the products and goods and inventions—a sort of first World’s Fair. I’d like to go to it and buy all kinds of souvenirs and bring them back.
What superpower would you most like to have?
A perfect memory. That would come in handy.
Do you own a camera? If so, what kind?
Just this. [Holds up her iPhone 6]
Complete this sentence: If I wasn’t a curator I’d be a …
Can this be aspirational? A film editor.
What advice do you give students who are considering going into art history and art curation?
Do internships with museums, exploring the range of careers that exist. There are lots of opportunities that are less well-known.
What’s your guilty TV-watching pleasure?