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Street Cred, 90210

Timothy Norris

Eschewing New York, renegade London street-art dealer Steve Lazarides has opened another of his audacious pop-up galleries in an unexpected derelict space — an 8,000-square-foot former Anthropologie store in the middle of Beverly Hills. Last week, Banksy’s former gallerist spoke with the Weekly as he kicked off his four-month local run at Lazarides Gallery Los Angeles with new work by home-squeeze David Choe, hung on all-red walls.  

L.A. WEEKLY: Did finding this place dictate your move to Beverly Hills?
LAZARIDES: Yeah, we’d been here twice before doing shows — we did downtown with Banksy [“Barely Legal,” 2006], we did Hollywood with Antony Micallef [“Impure Idols,” 2007] and wanted to bring about something with a different vibe. And here, in Beverly Hills, we could do it. It’s nice here because people actually walk around — for Los Angeles that’s unusual. I’m intrigued to see what the reaction will be.

Why did you choose Los Angeles to set up as opposed to New York?
L.A. has always been really good to us! People are really friendly, always help out. We’ve got a great client base here. I don’t necessarily find those attributes in New York. It’s nice to come do something in L.A.

Why now?
Why not! It seemed the right thing to do.

Does staging the shows in L.A. dictate which artists you choose?
Well, David I’ve been working with for years and I love his work. He wanted to do a solo show, and it was like, Yeah, let’s do it. The other four shows [French photographer JR, VHIL, Conor Harrington, Jonathan Yeo and Brit Jay Jay Burridge], it’s just great art representing Europe. People I like to work with. Wait until you see Jay Jay’s. Instead of doing it the way we’ve done before, for three days and two weeks, its like, Why don’t we take the space for longer and put four or five shows on that last a decent amount of time? We’ve tried something new.

What do you look for when choosing an artist to represent?
I genuinely need to like the work. If I don’t like it, I can’t do it. I like it when people push boundaries. Someone like JR is fairly unique in what he does. Same with FAILE, same way Banksy was. I like something that challenges authority. I also work with people who are just kind of starting out — it’s nice to find someone and help them along.

Is this gallery a test for a more permanent presence here in Los Angeles?
Hmm, maybe. [He smiles.] We’ll see. If we do, I don’t think it will be in this space, but I’m not ruling it out.

It’s a beautiful space.  I’m glad it’s not white.
I don’t like white. I have a pathological hatred for concrete floors and white walls.

You’re known for selling out your shows before they open. How are sales?
It’s going okay so far. As far as sales are concerned, it seems that they’re as good as they’ve ever been, across the board. It’s more of a collector’s market now. It’s not a gold rush like it was two years ago — people running in and saying, “I’ll take that and that …” We find now that more serious collectors have come back into the market, genuine enthusiasts — they want to take their time buying something. That’s not necessarily a bad thing.

What is the major difference between the markets/scenes in the U.K. and L.A.?

Here it’s a lot more open-minded, to be honest. People here seem pretty happy to make their own mind up — not so dictated by what the magazines and art press are saying. There’s a huge amount of people here who just want to go out and support the art world. I’d love to see what Jeffrey [Deitch] is going to do here. He’ll be good for the L.A. art scene. He’s got a slightly different way of looking at it than everyone else.

What do you think you can bring to the L.A. market that no one else can?

Ha! No one else is stupid enough to want to rent a huge space in the middle of Beverly Hills and put on a ridiculously large show in the middle of a recession. Apart from that, a bit of fun, or at least entertainment.

Is street art dead?
It’s obviously not — we have 2,000 people turning up [for the David Choe opening]. It’s as strong as it’s ever been. It’s no longer the new thing, it’s become more established. I think it’s going to be a busy year.


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