It’s finally here. The L.A. Art Show has arrived back at Los Angeles Convention Center for the 24th year. Spanning four days through Sunday, Jan. 27, the exhibit is the West Coast’s largest art fair, showcasing the most diverse range of artists and institutions from all around the Pacific Rim.
L.A. Weekly had the pleasure of attending the VIP opening-night premiere party on Wednesday, one night prior to doors opening to the public. Friends and media from all over the city gathered in this 200,000-plus-square-foot space with one thing in common: a love and appreciation for art.
Attendees who made the mistake of driving (instead of taking Uber/Lyft) probably noticed the obscene amount of cars and people congesting the road, partly due to the Elton John concert next door at Staples. But all was forgotten once you stepped foot inside those double sliding doors of the L.A. Convention Center.
Live music, soothing fluorescent lighting and good vibrations greeted you. The No. 1 rule for the evening came in the form of a stop sign with the words “Stay Present,” serving as a much-needed reminder as you reach for your iPhone to snap a pic. It was almost like entering a safe zone where you were able to enjoy, absorb and be inspired.
Your eyes soon land on a beautiful yet trippy mural of bright colors, almost psychedelic in a way, with a cosmic flare. It's When Sleeping Beauty Wakes by Yoshitaka Amano, a contemporary Japanese illustrator and painter, whose work you may have seen in the Final Fantasy videogames.
Nearby, RETNA’s red, white and blue painting grabbed the attention of anyone who knows this city and who knows music. Besides carrying the reputation of a notable L.A.-bred street artist, real name Marquis Lewis also designed Justin Bieber’s Purpose album cover from 2015.
The show was filled with classics and pop favorites, including Andy Warhol’s signature portraits of Marilyn Monroe and a nearly life-size Darth Vader figurine by Josh Mayhem. “I’m excited to see the breadth of art,” says its creator, a West Hills toy designer. “There’s such a wide variety and it’s all so good. I could only imagine how difficult it is to come here to buy art, because of the selection. It makes it a difficult thing to do, a difficult choice. Exhibiting in here is awesome. The exposure is great, and I like hearing people’s reactions.”
Speaking of buying, it’s hard not to notice an original piece from Picasso sitting on the white walls retailing for $65,000. And while beauty lies in the nostalgia upon recognizing artists at a glance (from Warhol to Picasso), there is excitement in discovering a new artist and wanting to know more. Suddenly, you’re reminded that it’s not only a passion for artists and gallerists, it’s their lives.
L.A. Art Show, through Sunday, Jan. 27; tickets still available.