From Jan. 23 to Feb. 17, and from downtown to Santa Monica, Hollywood, Venice, Palm Springs and points beyond, no fewer than 10 contemporary art fairs make for a complete takeover of the visual culture calendar. From the classic and massive to the eccentric and intimate, from the international and rarefied to the affordable and society-centric, from the artist-run to the photo-based, L.A. Weekly checked in with the shows' organizers to get a sense of what makes each of them unique — and most important, what they all love most about producing an art fair in Los Angeles.
L.A. ART SHOW
Thursday, Jan. 24-Sunday, Jan. 27
In the quarter century of its existence, the L.A. Art Show has never stopped expanding — not only its footprint but its vision as well. Founder and director Kim Martindale sees the most important part of his role as keeping pace with the international influences and local interests of the artists and collectors who make the city special. With Asian and Pacific Rim and Latin American cultures meeting home-grown street and urban styles, Hollywood and tech innovations, and lowbrow and Chicano foundations, this fair is all about proving that there really is no place like home.
The gallery and institutional presences are many and varied, with hundreds of venues hailing from around the globe and closer to home. The curated sections and public projects are crowd-pleasers, such as LACMA's presentation of “Virtual Futures: XR Showcase” featuring VR by Jorge R. Gutierrez, Wesley Allsbrook, Nancy Baker Cahill and Drue Kataoka; Argentine artist Marta Minujín's widely meandering hopscotch installation; Art Share L.A.'s presentation of Skid Row–based guerrilla artist SC Mero's site-specific, politically topical scavenger hunt; and legendary graffiti artist RISK making his L.A. Art Show debut with two sculptures from his ongoing “Shark” series — reclaimed automotive assemblage works that explore predatory behavior on land and sea.
Cardboard maestros Dosshaus will set the tone, sculpturally speaking, for Littletopia, an inventive fair within a fair dedicated to the legacy of lowbrow and pop surrealism, where this year's recipient of the genre's lifetime achievement award will be the inimitable Camille Rose Garcia. With artists like Dorian Wood, Elizabeth Tobias and Sarah Trouche, performance art is well-represented; the opening party is easily the season's liveliest; and both on- and off-site tours by Dot Red and Cartwheel complete the fullness of the potential experiences.
Opening party: Wednesday, Jan. 23, 7-11 p.m.; $125-$250.
L.A. Convention Center, West Hall, 1201 S. Figueroa St., downtown; Thu., Jan. 24-Sat., Jan. 26, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sun., Jan. 27, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.; $30. laartshow.com.
Friday, Feb. 1-Sunday, Feb. 3
Photo L.A. has crisscrossed the city more than once in its 27 years of operation, from the Santa Monica Convention Center to the Reef in downtown. This year, its new owner and director, Claudia James Bartlett (who has been integral to its direction for years, and has now purchased the show from founder Stephen Cohen) brings the fair back west. Its coterie of nearly 70 galleries sets up shop this year at Barker Hangar, along with artists, collectives, nonprofits, schools and booksellers — bringing examples of works from the 19th century to the cutting edge of the 21st.
“One of the driving forces behind Photo L.A. is to help create a collaborative platform,” Bartlett tells the Weekly, “one that connects dealers, collectors, artists and people in a larger sense. Photography is an important art medium that crosses over into science and popular culture, which makes it so very relevant to our everyday lives. And,” she adds, “the energy is undeniable.”
Opening party: Thursday, Jan. 31, 6-9 p.m., $100.
Barker Hangar, 3021 Airport Ave., Santa Monica; Fri., Feb. 1-Sat., Feb. 2, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 3, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; $20-$30. photola.com.
Feb. 9-April 21
Desert X is less of an art fair and more of a biennial land-art festival. However, much like its condensed, indoor cousins, artists and audiences come from all over the world to attend. With something like 20 sites across Coachella, Desert Hot Springs, Indian Wells, Indio, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and the Salton Sea, you can think of the 10 Freeway as the main aisle, and the string of sites as booths along its sides, though separated by miles. Like satellite fairs, a number of regional art galleries and institutions plan corollary exhibitions to match. The start of Desert X coincides with both Modernism Week and Art Palm Springs (see below).
Last year's inaugural edition saw sculptural works, architectural interventions, performances and happenings in mostly outdoor locations in the towns and so-called empty spaces in between, from nature reserves to abandoned homes, vacant storefronts, billboards and hotel rooms. And the curatorial team of artistic director Neville Wakefield (who helmed the inaugural in 2017) and co-curators Amanda Hunt and Matthew Schum have been signaling an expanded field for 2019, as the (as yet unannounced) artists enact a range of creative responses to the climate and geography, as well as to the indigenous history and spiritual significance, along with pop cultural mythologies of the desert, as both a place and an idea.
Coachella Valley locations, Feb. 9-April 21; free. desertx.org. Desert X “hubs” with maps, merch, the newly released “Desert X 2017” catalog and, hopefully, bottles of cold water and sunscreen, will be open in the towns of Indio, Palm Desert and Palm Springs.
Special event: Desert X and Palm Springs Art Museum will present “Desert, Why?” a three-day symposium celebrating art and the environment, from March 1-3.
ALAC | ART LOS ANGELES CONTEMPORARY
Thursday, Feb. 14-Sunday, Feb. 17
Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC to its friends) first came into being a decade ago, in response to the need for a fair spotlighting the significant contributions of L.A. to the international art world, fostering a unique mix of emerging and established voices. As fair director Tim Fleming tells the Weekly, “As we head into our 10th year, I recognize the impact we have made locally and internationally as we've grown with and informed our city as a center for art and culture. To walk into a collector's home and see a work from a past edition of our fair is such a pleasure, because it solidifies how we've achieved our mission of supporting galleries and informing new and existing collections. Our 10th anniversary is a chance for us to further our commitment to be content-rich, trusted, inventive, international and of the moment in L.A.”
Barker Hangar, 3021 Airport Ave., Santa Monica; Opening night party, Wed., Feb. 13, 6-9pm, $75; show hours Thu.-Fri., Feb. 14-15, & Sun., Feb. 17, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 16, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; $25. artlosangelesfair.com.
Thursday, Feb. 14-Sunday, Feb. 24
Modernism Week (which is really more like two weeks) is the jewel in the crown of Palm Springs midcentury culture. Its legendary Show & Sale, and the jam-packed schedule of more than 350 tours, parties, concerts, feasts, art exhibitions and dress-up activities, shine a bright light on the architecture, design and fashion zeitgeist of the chic high modernism with which the town has become all but synonymous. The opening-night, Austin Powers–themed party at Indian Canyon Country Club is already sold out.
Palm Springs Convention Center (Show & Sale), 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, Palm Springs; other events at various time and locations; daily, Feb. 14-24; modernismweek.com.
ART PALM SPRINGS
Friday, Feb. 15-Sunday, Feb. 17
The Art Palm Springs art fair, while deliberately scheduled to coincide with Modernism Week — sharing not only the Convention Center but reciprocal show tickets — is not necessarily about the glossy desert aesthetic. If anything, its roster of about 80 galleries is motivated to bring the world with them to the desert. Known for an upbeat energy and a curious-minded crowd, the fair's unique combination of regional legends and international newcomers shakes things up in a memorably engaging, stylish way.
Opening party: Thursday, Feb. 14, 5-9 p.m.; $100 (includes weekend festival pass).
Palm Springs Convention Center, 277 N. Avenida Caballeros, Palm Springs; Fri., Feb. 15, 11 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., Feb. 16-17, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Mon., Feb. 18, noon-5 p.m.; $25. art-palmsprings.com.
FRIEZE LOS ANGELES
Friday, Feb. 15-Sunday, Feb. 17
It's almost impossible to overstate the grip that the inaugural edition of Frieze Los Angeles has on the imagination of the city's art world. The buzz is on par with a planetary alignment or, like, the Olympics or something. It's crazy. But it's also going to be amazing.
An international partnership captained by Bettina Korek, executive director of Frieze Los Angeles, and Victoria Siddall, director of Frieze Fairs globally, has been working toward replicating the standard-bearing accomplishments of the Frieze Fairs in London and New York, while at the same time taking great care to ensure that the Los Angeles edition is something all its own.
Taking full literal and symbolic advantage of its location at the Paramount Studios on Melrose, the fair will host 70 galleries and a panoply of public projects in the soundstage and outdoor spaces designed by Kulapat Yantrasast. It also has commissioned star curators Hamza Walker and Ali Subotnick to curate a breathtaking set of site-specific installations, talks, film and music programs and interdisciplinary performances throughout the famous backlot streets. And quite apart from this considerable main attraction, some half a dozen other fairs have coordinated their schedules at hotels and other unconventional locations for the same weekend — turning Frieze Los Angeles into our own proper Frieze Week right from the start.
Opening party: Thursday, Feb. 14, invitation only.
Paramount Pictures, 5555 Melrose Ave., Hollywood; Fri., Feb. 15, preview, 2-8 p.m., $150-$250; Sat., Feb. 16, noon-7 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 17, noon-6 p.m.; $50. frieze.com/fairs/frieze-los-angeles.
Friday, Feb. 15-Sunday, Feb. 17
Felix L.A. is a new contemporary art fair debuting this year, founded by collector Dean Valentine and gallerists Al and Mills Morán. L.A. Weekly asked them to tell us about themselves and what they feel Felix can contribute to the art fair genre. “Felix is trying to create something that goes beyond the buying and selling of art,” they told us. “We are focused more on the communal experience of an art fair. We hope we will be able to create something more intimate and human-scaled, where participants can more easily connect: dealers with collectors, collectors with other collectors, the art world with other parts of the Los Angeles cultural scene. L.A. came of age as an art capital many years ago, but it's taken the global art system a long time to catch up. We see this weekend as, finally, an acknowledgement of that. We're very pleased to be a part of it.”
Opening party: Thu., Feb. 14, 6-10 p.m.; free.
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; Fri., Feb. 15-Sat., Feb. 16, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 17, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.; free. felixfair.com.
SUPERFINE! ART FAIR
Friday, Feb. 15-Sunday, Feb. 17
Founded in 2015 as a satellite to Art Basel Miami Beach, Superfine! has editions in New York, Washington, D.C., and now Los Angeles. Promising works by 250 artists across solo and gallery presentations, its buzzword is inclusivity — and that extends to collectors, with 90 percent of the works priced from $100 to $5,000. Alex Mitow, director and co-founder, tells the Weekly, “The difference with Superfine! is that we focus on making the whole art fair experience accessible and transparent. This includes spotlighting more work from underrepresented artists — LGBTQ, artists of color and female artists.” Mitow says they also have taken care to include L.A.-based artists and galleries. “We feel strongly about building a Superfine! community in L.A.,” he says. “I think that this attention around international art fairs coming to L.A. will galvanize the L.A. art scene, and will also enable local artists and galleries to thrive throughout the year.”
Opening party: Thu., Feb. 14, 7-11 p.m.; $75.
Magic Box L.A., 1933 S. Broadway, downtown; Fri., Feb. 15-Sun., Feb. 17, noon-10 p.m.; $10. superfine.world.
Friday, Feb. 15-Sunday, Feb. 17
The stARTup L.A. fair has its own thing going on, with a by-artists, for-everyone structure that bypasses the gallery system altogether. As founder Ray Beldner tells the Weekly, “From the start, we wanted to break away from the generic booth experience by holding our fairs in fun, colorful, boutique hotels where each artist creates a solo exhibition in their room.” Beldner notes that this unique format makes for a more intimate art viewing experience. “This year,” he says, “our theme is Art & Technology, so besides the 60 artist rooms, the public areas have videos, augmented and virtual reality projects, and artificial intelligence projects to view and interact with, including a performance by Tiffany Trenda. It's going to be amazing!”
Opening party: Fri., Feb. 15, 7-10 p.m.; Free with $15 day pass.
The Kinney Hotel, 737 W. Washington Blvd., Venice; Fri., Feb. 15, 2-10 p.m.; Sat., Feb. 16, noon-9 p.m.; Sun., Feb. 17, noon-7 p.m., $15. startupartfair.com/los-angeles/overview/.