The second L.A. iteration of Superfine! delivers all the upbeat energy of the exclamation point in its name. It’s not just down to the fair’s hot pink branding; true to its goal of making art accessible and affordable, the scene at the opening was colorful, enthusiastic, and intensely interactive.
Superfine! aims its offerings toward newer collectors, with works priced in a range (from under $100 to the low thousands) that is affordable for many. It also provides resources to artists at earlier stages in their careers, helping them establish and build a market for their work. The fair has grown rapidly since its first event in 2015 and now hosts seven shows around the country, with nine planned in 2020.
Unlike the standard white-cube booth style fairs, the artists’ displays at the Reef in DTLA zigzag along accordion-pleated walls that allow lots of neighborly interaction, as well as complementary juxtapositions between different mediums and styles. The artists themselves, many of them first-time exhibitors at Superfine! or any fair, were eager to engage with visitors and chat about their work.
The intimate feel comes out in Superfine!’s choice of local partners as well. The show’s killer drinks are served up by the Fingerjoint, the pop-up that serves as L.A.’s only lesbian bar until a brick-and-mortar space can be found (a lot of fingers crossed for November 2020).
Co-founder Alex Mitow calls Superfine! a “local-global fair.” About half of the exhibiting artists in L.A. this year are L.A.- or California-based, and their works often reflect that in the subject matter, with beach scenes, mid-century architectural landscapes, and surrealist and pop art influences predominating. It’s local in execution, but global in effect — these are images that speak easily to people in many places. Take, for example, Scott Froschauer’s installation, “The Peace Signs,” part of his popular series of self-reflective street signs with slogans about empathy. They are local in their geographic framing — as modified U.S. street signs — but globally understandable in their newly translated forms.
The colorful, Instagrammable immediacy is part of the Superfine! experience, including watching and participating in the live creation of art. In addition to Rob Anderson’s collaborative mural project on one wall, executed with the support of kids and visitors, BG Gallery’s John Kilduff painted 10-minute portraits that were priced at $80 and up. Many visitors walked away with personal pizza boxes shielding their still-wet boards.
While painting predominates, Superfine! offers a range of photography, illustration, and mixed media work. Jonathan Ducrest’s photographs stood out for their powerful use of negative space, bringing fresh perspectives to historic landscapes. From Patricia Hardmeier’s gestural monotype prints, to David Dunleavy’s textural cut-paper works, to Chris Roberts-Antieau’s embroidered and appliquéd “fabric paintings,” there is something for every taste, in nearly every medium.
The art is trendy, fun and playful; many of the artists are growing in their practice and willing to show some of their experimentations in this setting. Go for the lively and welcoming atmosphere; stay because you just might find a work you can afford to bring home.
Superfine! continues Saturday, February 8, noon-10 p.m. and Sunday, February 9, noon-8 p.m. at The Reef on Washington and Broadway, downtown. Tickets are $15. superfine.world.