We had the good fortune of connecting with Elizabeta Betinski and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Elizabeta, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
I came across a quote by Audre Lorde in 1993 – the year I arrived to the US from the quickly-disintegrating Yugoslavia – and it’s been my go-to in difficult times ever since: ““When I dare to be powerful—to use my strength in the service of my vision—then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid,” The reason why these wise words by Lorde speak to me is because they remind me that fear is a perfectly natural feeling and, at the same time, they give me a push to follow my vision and act on realizing it despite the fear. My life’s path to this day involves an extraordinary amount of risk: learning how to deal with fear, an intimate companion of risk, has been essential . To me, Lorde’s quote underlines the importance of having courage, a character trait I prize above all others. My rumination on courage and my desire and effort to cultivate it within myself eventually led me to another strong Black woman, Maya Angelou, and her quote: “Courage is the most important of all the virtues, because without courage you can’t practice any other virtue consistently. You can practice any virtue erratically, but nothing consistently without courage.” Both women have had to overcome seemingly unsurmountable obstacles in their lives and I am grateful for the examples they’ve set and the inspiration I still find in their words.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My creative work is dedicated to international collaboration. After years of owning a gallery in Los Angeles and collaborating with hundreds of amazing Los Angeles artists, I established a nonprofit arts organization, bardoLA, with a mission to bring the incredible work created in LA to international audiences. After presenting two official Collateral Exhibitions at Biennale di Venezia, the oldest and most infamous international art happening of its kind, bardoLA is well on its way of establishing itself as an organization uniquely positioned to champion LA artists around the world. The success of bardoLA’s exhibitions is now paying off in a different way as well: it has created room for me to turn my attention to my own creativity – as a writer, finding the time to write can be challenging and this was especially the case in the early years of bardoLA when there weren’t enough hours in the day to do all that needed to be done. It wasn’t easy and it still isn’t but the struggle has always been worth it and I’m blessed with tenacity: I keep going until what initially seems impossible becomes possible. Challenges excite me – they offer an opportunity for exponential growth and the most important lesson I’ve learned along the way is to welcome them as that makes them much easier to overcome.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’m a beach person and find that my time with the ocean is the most healing so visiting the Pacific would be a must, whether its a day long affair on any of the beaches in Malibu or a quick stop by the Santa Monica beach. Nature is never too far in LA and that’s one of the many things that make this city so unique: a hike to the Griffith Observatory or a walk down the paths of Arroyo Secco are always time well spent. Art would, of course, also have a prominent spot on the itinerary and LA has so much to offer, from world-class museums to fantastic galleries. I don’t really have favorites as they all eventually show something I want to see but I do love the Hammer Museum, ICA LA, LACMA, Jeffrey Deitch Gallery, Sprüth Magers, Nicodim Gallery…the list goes on and on. Film is another passion of mine and a movie at my favorite vintage cinema, the Vista Theater in Los Feliz, would certainly make for a great night out. The Bob Baker Marionette Theater is another favorite and who doesn’t love a good puppet show? This would bring us into my neighborhood of Highland Park which seems to have a new restaurant popping up every day so choices on that front seem almost endless and listing them would make this much too long. When I’m not in the mood for a full-on restaurant vibe, I love to stop by Los California Tacos – the best taco truck in Pasadena, and I find that taco trucks are a must-have experience when visiting LA. Finally, the European in me loves nothing more than ending a long day with a glass of good wine at La Poubelle Bistro.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I have been – and continue to be – incredibly fortunate to receive support and encouragement from so many amazing people: starting with my Mom, who is still my most dedicated cheerleader, to girlfriends who inspire me with their accomplishments, to the many artists I’ve had the honor to collaborate with, to writers whose words are my lighthouses when the weather gets stormy and dark. A special Shoutout goes to Robbie Conal, a prolific American political artist and my OG who has taught me many invaluable lessons along the road, chief among them the immeasurable worth of true love.
All images ©bardoLA. Photo credits: Ugo Carmeni Studio, Venezia, Italy; Stefano Leoni, Venezia, Italy; Panic Studio L.A.