Helen Molesworth is a writer and curator based in Los Angeles. She is also a podcast host and the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Clark Art Writing Prize. Before moderating the Zócalo event “What Is the Value of Art?”—presented in partnership with NeueHouse, KCRW, and Lucas Museum of Narrative Art—she sat down in our green room to chat Stevie Wonder, King Tut, and her favorite Korean spa.
How do you take your coffee?
Half coffee, half milk; and the milk has to be heated.
What's the most important piece of art you own, and what makes it valuable to you?
My wife is the collector. She’s the one who buys things. I think I’m very fortunate: all the art that I own has been given to me as presents. So, I can’t answer. That’s a sucker’s bet! I won’t choose.
Who is your dream dinner guest—dead or alive?
And what would you serve Stevie Wonder?
I make a really, really mean couscous. I’d make him a big merguez couscous.
You’ve recently forayed into podcasting. What is something that surprises you about the medium?
The way people respond to it. Because I’ve been a voice in their ear—literally in their headphones, in the car—people think we’re friends.
Where’s somewhere you go to find peace in Los Angeles?
The Olympic Spa. It’s a women-only Korean spa.
Let’s play word association. What come to mind when you think about:
• NFTS: Suckaaa …
• Lowbrow: Johnnie’s Pastrami (with love!).
• Appropriation: Hard to think without it.
• Viva Magenta, the Pantone color of 2023: I haven’t seen it yet, but I was all for millennial pink.
Describe a time you broke the rules, for better or worse.
I smoked a lot of weed before it was legal.
What is something you’re proud of?
I’m really proud of my track record of acquisitions for museums.
In childhood, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An Egyptologist. Didn’t everybody want to be? I’m of the King Tut exhibit generation—the first mega-blockbuster. I probably saw that when I was 8, so of course I wanted to be an Egyptologist.
What do you find beautiful about the world?