Here in the City of Angels, we have art fairs galore, from the L.A. Art Show and Art Los Angeles Contemporary to the time-tested photo l.a. But how many focus exclusively on women, who make up more than half the world's population? Not many, and that's where Art Women Art Week comes in. A weeklong series of screenings, discussions and installations by female visual artists, AWAW is curated by the leading online arts gallery, Saatchi Art. It makes sense, too. In an artists' panel on Sunday, Aug. 19, at the multipurpose restaurant, bar and outdoor screening space E.P. & L.P., Saatchi Art's senior VP and general manager, Jeanne Anderson, pointed out that Saatchi is female-led, with 70% of the staff women.
Still, panelist and featured artist Kelly Brumfield-Woods addressed the continuing disparity between male and female artists, and the evolution of women's rights over the course of the past few decades. “I grew up in the '70ss and 'feminist' was a really bad word in my house,” she said. “It meant you weren’t ladylike.” Yet while she agrees the art world has since come a long way, Brumfield-Woods also pointed out, “We’re not there yet.” This, despite the fact that according to Saatchi, 70% of artists in galleries are men, while 50% of art sold online is made by women.
“When we ask questions, we don’t want to fear that we’re less-than,” Brumfield-Woods said. With such a large population of female artists in Los Angeles, she feels that just being exhibited is not enough. Nonetheless, the artist remained adamant about distancing herself from the militant attributes of '70s feminism. “I’m not anti-man, I’m just for equality,” she said.
Brumfield-Woods' art is featured in AWAW's installation at E.P. & L.P., with additional art by Stephanie Vovas, Meike Legler and Javiera Estrada. Meanwhile, each night of the series follows roughly the same format. It kicks off with a soundtrack from a female DJ at Frankie’s Private Bar overlooking West Hollywood, then segues into a unique casual fete that introduces the evening's theme. Afterward, guests head to the adjacent Melrose Rooftop Theatre, where hosts lead female-centric talks and panels. Next comes a short film, followed by a feature-length movie focusing on women.
“In college, I was going down on my college boyfriend and he farted,” actor-writer-producer Loren Ledesma told L.A. Weekly. The ordeal inspired her to make a film called The Flip Side, which screened at AWAW on Monday. The five-minute short features a dream sequence in which Ledesma's character starts behaving like an archetypical male: obsessively scratching her balls on the couch when she's not YouTubing on the toilet. “I kind of wrote it as a 'fuck you' to everybody who told me I couldn't and shouldn't do it,” she said. “As a young Latina and indigenous Native American female, I kind of wanted to prove to myself and everybody that I could.”
“It's very rare to come across a creative event that embraces women from all forms of artistic expression, and I think this may be the first of its kind,” E.P. & L.P.’s creative director and AWAW's mastermind, Melissa Gadsden-Combes, said in a statement. “Empowered women from all industries have kindly stepped forward and want to share the most intimate moments on their artistic endeavors through stand-up, music, art, movies, fashion and beauty. Our AWAW programming will also include intimate talks from female actors, producers and screenwriters over the course of the week. Our hope is for guests to walk away from the weeklong series of AWAW events feeling inspired, grounded and captivated.”
Saatchi Art's chief curator Rebecca Wilson agreed. “At Saatchi Art we aim to support emerging artists all over the world and bring attention to their outstanding works in different ways,” she said. “For AWAW, we have curated a collection of works by Los Angeles-based women artists, highlighting the creativity and power of women and supporting the vibrant artistic community of the city.”
Art Women Art Week, Frankie's Private Bar and Melrose Rooftop Theatre at E.P. & L.P., 603 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood; free; (310) 855-9955; RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org; through Sunday, Aug. 26. saatchiart.com/shows/eplp.