By Jeff Davis
The art fair season is fast approaching, with huge exhibitions in London, Singapore and Switzerland coming up soon, but that doesn’t mean you need to travel far to see great art – the 2019 LA Fairs are just around the corner. The number of fairs has been growing as dealers are selling more and more inventory at these events, however, you don’t have to buy any art to enjoy the fairs! Think of them as pop-up museums with something for every taste.
At the larger art fairs including the LA Art Show, Art Contemporary LA and the Frieze LA you can find all the big name contemporary and cutting edge artists you might find at a museum including a full schedule of event programming, whereas at the smaller venues such as stARTup LA, The Other Art Fair, SUPEFINE LA or Felix you’ll find a more tightly curated set of artists that pay for exhibition space. Many of these artists don’t have gallery representation and are available at much more affordable prices. Admission to the smaller venues ranges between $10 and $15 versus $20 to $30 for the larger exhibitions. The opening night of most of the fairs features a VIP party that often has food, entertainment and in some cases benefits a charity.
The LA Art Show (laartshow.com), at the LA Convention Center, runs from Jan. 23 – 27, 2019. The VIP party is on Jan. 23. This mega-show is the largest of the LA art fairs and features modern and contemporary works from around the world displayed in over 200,000-square-feet of exhibition space. The website details the vast daily programing (exhibits, discussions, lectures and parties). My advice is too get there early for easy on-site parking and wear very comfortable shoes – there are acres of walking and art to see! Make sure to buy tickets on-line if possible because there are potentially long lines if you buy at the door. General admission at $33 is steep, but you can buy a four-day pass for $65.
Art Contemporary Los Angeles (artlosangelesfair.com), at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica runs from Feb. 13 – 18, 2019 (VIP Preview is on Feb. 13). As the name suggests, the focus here is squarely on contemporary art from galleries around the world. I would say the art works here tend to be less conventional and at times more conceptual than Art LA which encompasses a broader spectrum of styles. It features a full slate of programming including discussions, performance and hands on activities. Parking is available across the street and the early bird avoids lines. On-site food and drink is available.
Frieze Los Angeles, (frieze.com/fairs/frieze-los-angeles) will take place this year at the Paramount Picture Studios, located in Hollywood between Feb. 15th and 17, 2019. Please note there is NO on-site parking and they suggest you take Uber or a public transportation given limited street parking. Frieze LA is brought to LA by the New York, London and Paris producers of the Frieze international art fairs and Frieze Magazine.
Seventy of the world’s most significant and forward thinking galleries will be exhibiting in a custom structure designed by the architect Kulapat Yantrasast. The programing, curated by Ali Subotnick and Hamza Walker, will include artist projects, film, music and talks, and will celebrate the exceptionally dynamic culture of Los Angeles and its global contributions to the visual arts. There will be special large scale commissions by Karon Davis, Cayetano Ferrer, Barbara Kruger, Paul McCarthy, Tino Sehgal detailed in this link: frieze.com/fairs/frieze-los-angeles/program.
The Felix will take place between Feb. 13 and 17, 2019, at the Roosevelt Hotel during the same dates as the nearby Frieze’s fair. The fair is being led by Dean Valentine, a former television executive that now operates a media investment firm. It is expected to showcase works from 38 dealers at this smaller, more intimate, boutique-like fair. There is currently no website detailing the exhibition, however, according to an article in Artnews it will be both affordable for both international and smaller dealers to participate. The cost of some of the larger fairs often drives away the small to mid-size galleries given the high upfront cost and lower probability of breaking even.
SUPERFINE! (superfine.world/los-angeles) will be at the Magic Box at The Reef in downtown LA from Feb. 14 – 17, 2019. SUPERFINE is another fair where self –selected artist and smaller galleries can exhibit. Up to 350-plus solo and gallery represented artists are expected in the 18,000-square-foot space. SUPERFINE! bills itself as a “more approachable art fair” with a goal of friendly and transparent and fun. “Price on request” is standard policy and 50 percent of the works for sale must be less than $5,000 with at least one original work under $1,000 with a floor of $100. Also, all prices MUST be clearly displayed. So there is no “if you have to ask you can’t afford” attitude allowed. Admission is only $10 plus fees.
StARTup Art Fair (startupartfair.com/los-angeles/overview/) runs from Feb. 15 – 17, 2019, at The Kinney Venice Beach on the west side (same location as last year). Admission is $10 to $15 in advance and valet parking is available for $15.
StARTup is an art company dedicated to connecting art collectors to exceptional, highly vetted artists from across the country. Sixty-plus artists each in their own exhibit space/room at the venue. The fair has a very down to earth feel with a common space for food and drink in the center of the complex. Prices here are more affordable and you can speak directly with the artist about their work. The artists apply to exhibit in the fair and are selected by an independent jury. And, 100 percent of proceeds go to the artists.
The Other Art Fair (la.theotherartfair.com/about) will also take place at the Magic Box at The Reef later in the year from March 28 – 31, 2019. Ticket prices vary from $15 – $30 and street or lot parking is available. The Other Art Fair is put on by Saatchi Art (presenting partner/leading online gallery) and like stARTup or SUPERFINE!, it’s a smaller curated fair where local artist are encouraged to apply for exhibition space. The fair was founded in London in 2011 and now has additional exhibitions in LA, New York, Sydney and Melbourne. The focus is on emerging and next generation artists.
Last but not least, Photo LA (photola.com) will take place at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica between Jan. 31 and Feb. 3, 2019. Photo LA is in a new location this year at the historic Barker Hangar. The airplane hangar’s soaring vaulted ceilings, arched steel trusses, and sweeping 35,000-square-foot event space will host a roster of 50-65 local and international galleries and dealers, individual artists, collectives, leading not-for-profits, museums, art schools, and global booksellers.