Taking a new spin on Art Week in the Californian metropolis, this week sees the inaugural edition of Frieze Los Angeles, a new fair opening under the sunny skies of the Golden State. Setting up shop at Paramount Studios, this week will serve as something of a victory lap for a city whose contemporary arts offerings have exploded in past years, and which has taken on the role of a cultural capital for both artists and the galleries representing them.
With 70 galleries from around the globe converging on the fairgrounds, Frieze LA definitely feels like the little brother to its offerings in New York and London, but for what the fair lacks in scale, it more than makes up for in quality and focus, serving as a unifying brand under which many blue-chip galleries will make their return to the city, or make a first contact, brought together under over the massive aquatic tank used to shoot aquatic scenes for films like Waterworld.
David Zwirner will be on hand with a broad selection of works from its gallery artists, among them Carol Bove, Harold Ancart and more, while Pace Gallery will bring a body of works that explores its proximity to the collectors of Silicon Valley, and which explores the connections between art and technology, using works by Alexander Calder, Studio Drift, Robert Rauschenberg, and many more. Lévy Gorvy will also be on hand, bringing a selection of important works by Pat Steir, while local gallery Regen Projects will have pieces by Walead Beshty, Wolfgang Tillmans and Rachel Harrison.
Also of note is the “Backlot,” where a series of special projects will be installed within the framework of the Paramount Studios cityscape, an artificial series of streets and buildings that will feature installs by Trulee Hall, Paul McCarthy, and many more. A striking utilization of the fair-site, the space is almost a tribute of sorts to the now-defunct Paramount Ranch art fair, which took place in Agoura Hills in a former Western film set that was recently destroyed by the raging Californian wildfires. The Paramount will also serve as the host of a series of film screenings, a fitting synergy that will include work by McCarthy, as well as work by Tala Madani. The fair will also feature a small-run zine and artist books section, noting the ever-increasing popularity of the medium in past years, and the massive popularity of the Printed Matter LA Art Book Fair, which takes place in the city in two months’ time.
Of course, any major art fair event will also see the opening of a range of satellite fairs and events, and Los Angeles’s fair week is no different. Perhaps one of the more intriguing options for the week is Felix, a 35-gallery outing spearheaded by collector Dean Valentine, which takes over the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel on Hollywood Boulevard. Located just a few minutes away from the Paramount Studios lot, this fair recalls a similarly scrappy mentality that defined the fairs of the 1990’s, referencing the fairs at Gramercy Hotel in New York and the Chateau Marmont in LA. The fair seems inspired in particular by the accessibility of fairs like NADA Miami Beach or other exhibitions targeted towards smaller galleries and nonprofits, and will welcome an adventurous series of projects. Dealers Kenny Schachter and Joel Mesler will put together a shared booth combined with a film documenting the pair’s friendship, with visitors to their booth able to buy a range of ephemeral items, or even a portrait by Mesler, who will paint any sitter for a modest fee. Also of note is the “Record Store from Outer Space,” a collaboration by Esther Pearl Watson and Mark Todd that will feature handmade zines and a listening station installed on-site at the fair.
For those who have ventured out to LA for fair week in the past, the name ALAC should ring some bells. Art Los Angeles Contemporary was once the primary game in town during fair week in the city, but its move out to Santa Monica seems to have relegated to a relatively niche position among collectors in the city. With Frieze drawing more collectors to the city for the week, this might end up as a boon for a fair that boasts both a strikingly unique locale and a strong selection of exhibitors. Bortolami Gallery will be on hand for ALAC, bringing with it a group of works by artist Eric Wesley, while hometown mainstay Shulamit Nazarian will bring a selection of works including ceramics by Cammie Staros and paintings by Wendell Gladstone.
Also of note this year is the opening of the first edition of the SPRING/BREAK Art show in Los Angeles. Known for its annual exhibition in New York during Armory week, the event will test its hand in California at the former site of produce stalls in Downtown Los Angeles. Allowing small installations in each of the booths spanning a wide swath of land, the fair continues its penchant for unique architectures, and equally creative engagements by the artists exhibiting there. This year’s event seems less organized around a central curatorial conceit, and rather around some of its more impressive recent curatorial projects. The event opens February 15th.
Outside of the main fairs, a number of major gallery shows, exhibition projects and events will mark the course of the week in Los Angeles. At Sprüth Magers’s Miracle Mile exhibition space, hometown hero Sterling Ruby will open a show of new works, while at Hauser & Wirth’s massive complex on the other side of town, dual shows dedicated to Piero Manzoni and Annie Leibowitz will go on view. Also of note is an installation just across the street from Regen Projects by Doug Aitken, placing a series of digitally-rendered figures inside an abandoned retail space. The Desert X public art biennial will also return this year, Neville Wakefield’s ambitious project located in the Coachella Valley. Filling the desert region with immense sculptures, light installations and public installs, the show promises to once again bring an impressive degree of spectacle to the arid region.
The fairs begin Tuesday this week, and run through the weekend.
— D. Creahan