Friedel Schmoranzer

Enjoy our newest feature on Friedel Schmoranzer as she discusses her position as the Head of Fellowship Programs at Villa Aurora, her favorite locations in each city, and why the sister cities are such a great fit.

Describe a day in the life in your job serving as the Head of Villa Aurora's Fellowship Program in Los Angeles?

No day is the like the other at Villa Aurora. After all this time, I still love driving up the hill and entering our garden gate and smelling the ocean. We usually check our emails from Europe first, due to the time difference, especially with our German headquarter in Berlin. We are responsible for promoting intercultural exchange and enabling dialogue between the arts community in Los Angeles and our resident artists.

We also organize regular meetings with our resident artists throughout the week and are always available for talks during office hours. There is usually a lively exchange about discovering the city, researching for the projects our artists are working on in LA and planning upcoming programs. We are a transatlantic bridge-builder and in that role, we host an array of events that reflect our mission as a residency house, a place to remember Marta and Lion Feuchtwanger and a place that celebrates the contribution German and European artists and intellectuals of the 1930s and 40s had on Southern California.

Project and event management, meetings with local partners communication and content management for our invitations and social media are also part of my daily tasks as well.

What are the differences between Berlin and Los Angeles, as you have worked in both locations?

Both cities are known for long distances, but LA is beating Berlin in that regard. In my experience Berliners are a lot rougher in their communication, but very direct. People in LA are friendlier, but maybe a little more (no offense!) flaky or harder to pinpoint. American professionalism on a certain level and work ethic is hard to beat though.

What is your favorite place in LA and why? What is your favorite place in Berlin and why?

That is a difficult question to answer since both cities have such a great selection to choose from! I love being in nature, taking my dog on hikes and being on the beach.

If I must point out one place per city, I will go with the Moroccan style rooftop garden of the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles. This museum is a magical unexpected gem. You will be surprised when you enter. It will be something that you have not experienced before!

Similarly unassuming from afar, but very different is the Soviet War Memorial in Berlin Treptow. You cannot see it from the street nor the waterfront of the Spree, but once you enter it, you get a sense of its size and meaning in the history of the city. Fascinating and worth to walk to and enjoy the park around it.

You moved to LA in 2011. How did your expectations about LA differ from reality?

I was not expecting to fall in love with LA that hard! It is so vast that it is constantly changing and when you haven’t been in a certain area for some months, there is always something new to discover. The mixture of mega city structure and nature is an absolute luxury.

As you are very familiar with the sister cities, why are LA and Berlin such a great fit?

Both cities have not one, but several centers in each of their quarters. In that sense their layout is not unlike. Trends in Germany are made in Berlin, trends in America are made in LA (and for the East Coast in New York of course :)

What is your favorite part of serving as the Head of the Fellowship Program?

My favorite part of my job is that, while I am living in America, I have the advantage to always be in touch with interesting people from my home country that work on artistic projects. My job is never boring!

To get a glimpse at the type of work Villa Aurora does, check out this video: Remembering the Exiles: Salka Viertel

Friedel Schmoranzer currently works at Villa Aurora, an artists's residence located in Los Angeles. After working as the Chief Editor for the catalogue Transatlantic Impulses - 15 years of Villa Aurora at Villa Aurora's Berlin headquarters, Schmoranzer moved to Los Angeles and served in various roles at Villa Aurora's LA location before moving into the position of Head of Fellowship Programs in 2020.

Instagram: @villaaurorala

Facebook: Villa Aurora - Los Angeles


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