For the first time ever, Los Angeles hosted the Frieze art fair, which was set against the Paramount Pictures Studios backlot. Simultaneously, various homegrown art events—Hollywood Roosevelt’s Felix Art Fair, the Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC) and the indoor-outdoor Spring/Break Art Show—were being held. And, while each fair featured impressive works from around the world, each also celebrated Californian talents that make the area so special. Here, we have selected a few highlights from the weekend that saw LA as a new capital of art in the United States.
Broken into two parts—a tented fair floor and a sprawling backlot of installations and curated pop-ups—Frieze showcased striking and photogenic art from all over the world. Blum & Poe set the tone with a hand-painted mural by Dave Muller depicting the last 25 years in LA (also the gallery’s tenure in town) and included select works by local artists including Shio Kusaka, Henry Taylor, Theodora Allen, and more.
Across the aisle at David Kordansky Gallery, a similar Hollywood theme was apparent, thanks Kathryn Andrews, who opted to infuse darker elements of the local industry into sculptural and photographic works. Deitch Projects dedicated their space to iconic artist Judy Chicago, while 303 Gallery invited interaction with new works by Doug Aitken, featuring starry fruits holding a highway and a precious stone table that doubled as a xylophone.
In the backlot, local artists ran amok, taking over and activating various permanent sets designed to imitate other cities and archetypal locations, from diners to brownstones. Hannah Greely’s “High And Dry” (a collection of painted clothing, rainbows and clouds strung between faux NYC buildings by clotheslines) was a favorite—and much photographed. The effect was playful and sweet while manifesting many an LA dream of creating a sort of stardom. In contrast, tucked within a faux apartment was Sarah Cain’s “I Touched A Cactus Flower,” a burst of deconstructed rainbow that stretched up and down walls, across couches and paintings, strung from objects attached to the ceiling, all cast in stained glass. While Greely presented a dream out in the open, Cain seemed to invite viewers within one, to experience imagination and color through a prism.
Santa Monica’s Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC) was a showcase of homegrown talents positioned between upstart fairs in their first year and mega fairs settling in. This resulted in a decidedly more relaxed feel to the floor and many moments for LA artists to occupy space—and to steal focus from out-of-towners.
Alika Cooper embodied this with understated bronze bathing suits tossed atop a tiled stage at SITUATIONS—a booth that looked as if C-3PO had just disrobed after a swim. Similarly occupying the floor, ceramics star Adam Silverman offered quiet, raw new work at Philip Martin Gallery; while Ben Sanders (of Happy Hour Agency) took over Ochi Projects with wiggly, facially featured pots.
Over The Influence displayed high-craft artist Megan Whitmarsh’s embroidered and stuffed works, meditating on the role of the woman artist through magazines, newspapers, objects, and “notes” embroidered and sewn into reality.
Perhaps most bewitching was the AWHRHWAR booth, which saw Kayla Ephros and Aubrey Ingmar Manson (along with Detroit’s Dylan Spaysky) working in a brighter palette to consider materials, politics, and youth through various forms of fabrication.
Another newcomer show, Felix took over rooms at the historic Hollywood Roosevelt hotel and the result was dazzling. Complemented by stunning views of the city, Felix displaced the traditional fair feeling for a more polished version that was undeniably LA.
Much of the work reflected this, namely a special showing of Encinatas-based Kim MacConnel, whose textile works covered couches that wiggled in conversation with paintings of a similar style. Over in Richard Telles’ room, Ravi Jackson offered an update on MacConnel by playing with colors through boards and fabrics set alongside spotty, playful objects.
What ultimately made Felix fun was the ability to use art to cast a hotel room as alien: Smart Objects featured paintings by Derek Paul Jack Boyle and Justin John Greene that made a corner room feel like an absurdist salon; while husband-and-wife duo Esther Pearl Watson and Mark Todd took Susanne Vielmetter’s cabana suite to another dimension with their “Record Store From Outer Space.” Concurrently, Taylor Marie Prendergast’s snarling dogs and neon florals were scattered through another guest room.
Downtown’s Spring/Break was perhaps most representative of LA’s art scene: unconfined, unassuming and unequivocally surprising. The fair was reminiscent of the very buzzy (now defunct) Paramount Ranch art fair, as it was staged in produce loading stalls.
There were many standouts from new galleries, but a few stuck out as truly of the city. Backyard-based ARVIA hosted a group show that ended with Liv Aanrud’s “Scorched and Scorned”—a colorful textile piece that paired squiggly patterns with female form.
The Fashion District’s Central Park hosted Jenny Rask’s “Beloved Objects,” an installation that saw everyday objects covered in fabrics just feet away from precariously stacked objects. While Devin Troy Strother put together a little solo show called Twinkle Toes, where his smiley, pop culture skewing commentary on neo-minstrelsy was on display through small and large-scale paintings and sculptures.
Images by Kyle Raymond Fitzpatrick