Photo L.A. has been all-city in the 27 years since its founding, moving from the Santa Monica Convention Center to the Reef in downtown. This year, its new owner and director, Claudia James Bartlett, brings the fair back to the Westside. A noted collector, dealer and curator, Bartlett has been integral to the fair’s operations for years; now she’s purchased the show from founder Stephen Cohen, who returns to 2019 as an exhibitor, keeping his perfect attendance record intact.
Some 70 exhibitors will occupy Barker Hangar this weekend — not only commercial galleries but also independent artists, collectives, nonprofits, schools, artisanal presses, publishers and booksellers — bringing works from the medium’s 19th-century origins to its cutting edge in the 21st, from digital to analog, paper to video, and books to sculptural objects.
“Photo L.A. has had many lives,” Bartlett tells L.A. Weekly. “Today, it stands out as a unique platform that showcases vintage masterpieces beside contemporary photography, video and multimedia installations from around the globe. 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.
“Starting with our Thursday night opening benefiting Venice Arts through the weekend, we present a larger-than-life CliffsNotes of the photography world,” she says, noting that participants come from all over the globe, throughout Los Angeles, the United States and Europe, and that also includes a large contingent of Chinese galleries.
In addition to the core exhibition, there’s a robust roster of special installations, professional talks, docent tours, demos, screenings and signings throughout the weekend. The opening-night party benefits Venice Arts, a neighborhood arts center connecting local artists with kids in need of the tools for creative expression.
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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.
Opening party: Thursday, Jan. 31, 6-9 p.m.; $100.