If art in L.A. is important to you, then this past weekend was a doozy. The proliferation of gallery and museum exhibitions associated with the mammoth Pacific Standard Time project, which opened to great fanfare between Thursday and Monday nights, would have been more than enough to overstimulate even the most Type-A culturati.
But as if that weren't enough, this weekend also saw the arrival of three and a half art fairs: Pulse, Fountain, Art Platform, and ARTRA/Co-Lab (that's the half, since it was nested inside Platform), each taking up residence in various parts of the art-world's current sweetheart, downtown.
Pulse has consistently been my personal favorite among the clusters of sub-fairs that pop up around major fairs like the Armory in New York City and Basel in Miami. They offer a progressive, experimental, installation-heavy, and artist-friendly experience; they are the cool kids, but in a good way.
The thing is, in Miami the Pulse offerings are less hysterical and superficial than much of what goes on down there; while in New York City they are a breezy dose of fresh air and a good romp compared to the estimable but traditional centerpiece of the Armory brand.
But with the Armory people, who were behind the inaugural Art Platform fair, making a concerted effort to garner early support among the local contemporary gallery class, deliberately skewing young and hip to get the attention of non-L.A. participants, this time, it was all but impossible to tell the two apart. As to whether that translated into heft in terms of L.A.'s international reputation and/or sales, opinions and spin are plentiful and ambiguous.
What follows is a merely small selection of some of the most interesting images and experiences taken from most of the places I went between Thursday and Monday. It's far from comprehensive, for reasons of space and clarity. There was a certain amount of cross-over between Pacific Standard Time-related projects, artists and galleries with presences at the various fairs.
A lot of what was on people's minds had to do with the mythology of the local collector base in L.A. It's a widely known but little understood phenomenon that collectors here frequently fly to NYC to buy the work of L.A. artists from the galleries there, rather than from the local galleries or studios here at home. I know, it's weird, but there it is.
A lot of people were attracted to Art Platform and Pulse because their organizations' impeccable New York City pedigrees were expected to keep some of that currency circulating locally. It didn't really work. Though many reported solid sales (when do they not?) it was mostly to familiar customers.
I skipped Fountain because a) I've never liked it among the New York City fair cluster each spring and had no reason to believe it would be better here, and b) early and subsequent reports coming back confirmed this instinct. Seems like it was especially centered on the party-night experience, and aside from fatigue, that was the night of the kick-ass three hour DJ set by Henry Rollins at the MOCA members' opening for Under the Big Black Sun as well as the combined after-parties for the Pulse and Platform fairs at the Standard, so that was kind of that. I think I did the right thing.