Lauri Firstenberg was born at Cedars and raised in Los Angeles, educated and socialized at Harvard Westlake, U.C. Berkeley – and ultimately Harvard University where she earned her PhD in Art History. She’s one of the most clever, quick-witted, beautiful Angelenos I know — exhaling quips and quotes and culturally relevant references like CO2. When I first met her, Lauri was adorned in Costume National — and articulated through her vamped lips that she resembled a Renoir painting. Always perceptive and sarcastically self deprecating, that is the Lauri the art world has come to love.
Gracefully standing on the front page of LA TIMES – CALENDAR, and in LA CONFIDENTIAL and LA WEEKLY, Lauri has become culture herself. Now a curator/gallery owner, mother and wife of famed LA architect Peter Zellner, she dictates what’s cool, what’s art and what’s relevant. In 2005, Lauri opened the doors to her nonprofit contemporary art space LA>< ART on La Cienega in Culver City, where emerging and mid-career local/national/international artists showcase their pieces and projects. Lauri has been providing a platform for artistic and cultural exposure and dialogue — and she is largely responsible for a lot of the viability and integrity of the Culver City art scene today.
Lauri is a Los Angeles native that one ought to know.
I sat down with Lauri to gain insight on her favorite Los Angeles moments – as well as to see which of these memories have helped gallop her to where she is today.
E: Which area of Los Angeles did you grow up in?
L: Encino. In high school I used to say “tip of Sepulveda”.
E: a’ la Popcorn or Camp Beverly Hills?
L: I would only answer this question for you Elaine. My adolescence was marked by Purple Guess Jeans from a’ la Popcorn.
E: Favorite Mulholland moment:
L: Our baby Edie pointing to our panoramic view and saying “city” for the first time.
E: Favorite Hollywood moment?
L: I’m on the preschool circuit now, there are too many.
E: Galleria, Westwood or Century City AMC?
E: Coolest famous person you met as a child?
L: Michael Jackson
E: High School car?
L: Totaled old Maroon Diesel Mercedes followed by Black Honda Accord
E: What was on your mixed tape as a senior?
L: NWA, Public Enemy, Black Sheep
E: Which designer would you have worn to prom?
L: Betsy Johnson
E: How do you handpick your artists?
L: Travel and research. Artists also approach our curatorial team and make site specific proposals.
E: From which sources do you draw creative inspiration?
L: Artists and writers
E: Which high school class/teacher helped guide where you are today?
L: Mr. Nordquist in Art History class/ Westlake School for Girls[Below are photos from the LA>< ART gallery opening of William Cordova and Sherin Guirguis on April 3, 2010.]
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Lauri also curated the 2008 California Biennial for the Orange County Museum of Art and is currently Adjunct Faculty in the Public Art Program at USC Roski School of Art and at Sciarc, Los Angeles. She has worked with curators at the Whitney Museum in New York and and ran the curatorial program at the venerable Artists Space. She also recently founded the online art newsletter L’art.
Visit Lauri’s website for upcoming openings.
LA>< ART is located at 2640 S. La Cienega Blvd | Los Angeles, CA | 90034
+ Stay tuned for next week’s L.A. Natives You Oughta Know segment on stylist to the stars, Amanda Reno (Beverly High School).