Frieze Week LA had us art fair hopping and gallery going for a full three days. The art-centric field trip provided an overview of contemporary art right now via established and emerging galleries (none from Canada, though!) and a diverse array of artists, artwork, and special projects.
Here are some of my highlights from the fairs and select galleries around town. Click the ‘launch map’ tab above to get your bearings and navigate this story…
FRIEZE ART FAIR returned for its second iteration at Paramount Picture Studios in Hollywood, attracting 35,000 visitors, including well-heeled art collectors from around the globe to regular folk like me, simply there to experience the event.
The new Focus LA section was my favourite part of the fair. Curated by Rita Gonzales of LACMA, it featured 13 emerging L.A. galleries (under 15 years), some commercial, some artist-run, which provided an overview of the local gallery scene and artists to watch (Gabriella Sanchez, Genvieve Gaignard, Sayre Gomez, Jaime Munoz, to name a few!).
Other stand-out booths included: Sadie Coles HQ with new paintings and custom floral wallpaper by Venezuelan painter Alvaro Barrington; Greene Naftali with a presentation of Cory Arcangel’s recent screen works of automated bots navigating social media; and Salon 94’s festive booth with wallpaper and portraits by Derrick Adams, and works by Lyle Ashton Harris, Laurie Simmons, Amy Bessone, and Thomas Barger.
Offsite, Frieze Music brought us an evening of performances, held at the original CBS Studios (now NeueHouse Hollywood, a private workspace), co-curated by writer/curator Kevin McGarry and uber-curator Hans Ulrich Obrist. Acts included Moses Sumney, Caroline Polachek, and Zsela. And, Barbara Kruger’s public art project, Untitled (Questions), commissioned by Frieze, punctuated the city’s street banners, billboards, and buildings with 20 questions in bold white-on-green text—provocative questions like Who buys the con?, Where are you going? and so on.
FELIX ART FAIR returned to the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel with more ambitious programming than last year. There were newly added special projects organized by critic William J. Simmons, which focused on gender, queerness, and feminism, and 30 percent more participating galleries. Felix maintained a sense of humour and fun. An installation by Luis Flores—a mannequin dangling from the chandelier of the hotel’s lobby with a bottle of champagne spraying balloon bubbles—greeted visitors, to start. Artist, dealer, writer Kenny Schachter covered his booth from floor to ceiling, even the bathroom, with paintings by various artists. Artist Darren Bader turned his booth into an entirely fictitious gallery, Fomo Haber of Athens, Greece, with a roster of dreamed up artists, elaborate CVs and artwork. He fooled me! And London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, new to the fair, brought limited-editions and fun collectibles by established contemporary artists—like Barbara Kruger’s Kiss stools.
ART LOS ANGELES CONTEMPORARY took place at its new home, the historic Hollywood Athletic Club, bringing the fair in closer proximity to Frieze and Felix crowds. Now in its 11th year, ALAC featured 50 galleries from 11 countries with booths set up in the venue’s squash courts, gymnasium, and Morrocan Hall. PRODUCTORA, an architecture firm from Mexico City, re-envisioned the 1920s venue in collaboration with Part Office, an interior design firm from Los Angeles, adding design/sculptural interest. Manageable in scope and scale, the fair was great for discovering (new-to-me) artists like painter Meghan Brady at Mrs. from Queens, New York, and galleries like Over the Influence in L.A. Different from other fairs was the inclusion of independent publishers like Printed Matter and non-profits.
SPRING/BREAK Art Show, which emphasizes artist-driven initiatives, and curator-led projects, took place once again at Skylight ROW DTLA, an area of historic warehouse structures, streets, and plazas, now occupied by hip offices, shops, and special events. The shows them, IN EXCESS, brought us large-scale experiential installations—mountains of Amazon boxes, lots of gold, art reflecting on consumer culture. The highlight for me was Transfer Gallery’s presentation of a new animated GIF by Canadian artist Lorna Mills, Petting Zoo: Epic Biblical.
ART AROUND TOWN
NIGHT GALLERY | Night Gallery opened an exhibition of really nice, new figurative paintings by Los Angeles-based Claire Tabouret, whose work I first saw at Frieze 2019. The artist paints over a fluorescent base layer, creating almost a fluorescent halo around each painting. The Pull of the Sun is on until March 21st.
FRANCOIS GHEBALY | Located in the same industrial parking lot as Night Gallery, François Ghebaly opened two fantastic exhibitions: Kathleen Ryan, Bad Fruit, massive sculptures of rotting fruit made of semi-precious stones and industrial materials, and Victoria Gitman, Five Paintings, tiny, intricate paintings of dyed fur, so realistic you want to pet them. Both shows are on until March 29th.
KAYNE GRIFFIN COCORON | Hidden behind an ivy-covered wall off of busy La Brea Avenue, was this beautiful gallery presenting An All Colored Cast, new works by Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis Thomas. The works examine gender, race, and identity in film, performance, and colour motion pictures throughout 20th century American cinema. Flash photography – definitely permitted – make these works come to life. On until March 7th.
NONAKA-HILL | A gallery space dedicated to contemporary Japanese art, located in a strip mall, hidden under a ‘Best Cleaners’ awning. Currently on view is a solo exhibition, sculptures and calligraphy work by Sofu Teshigahara. On until March 21st. Bonus: Petit Trois is next door for French bistro fare by Ludo Lefebvre.
‘Cuz you gotta eat and take a breather, too, here are some of the other things we explored between galleries, fairs, and art events—reaffirmation that Los Angeles is a great getaway from Vancouver, for creative, culinary and nature explorations.
EXPLORE THAI TOWN
A mecca of Thai eateries, shops, and supermarkets, this is an area where you can find good food any time of day.
SAPP COFFEE SHOP | Noodles, noodles, noodles, this is the spot for boat noodle soup and their famous jade noodles. Complete the meal with strong Thai iced coffee or tea, made with crushed ice, of course.
RUEN PAIR | Known for their green papaya salad (with a raw crab addition if you’re up for it!), you can find hot pot style soups, curries, grilled whole fish, and plenty of rice and noodle dishes. Open late, big portions, tasty dishes—can’t go wrong.
BHAN KANOM THAI | Visit this treasure trove of house-made Thai desserts, sweet drinks, and all kinds of snacks.
EXPLORE SILVER LAKE
SILVER LAKE MEADOWS | A scenic spot to chill, throw a Frisbee, or walk the 3.5km loop around Silver Lake Reservoir.
NEUTRA VDL STUDIO & RESIDENCES | Across the street from Silver Lake Reservoir is an architectural gem, the former home and workspace of architect Richard Neutra. Under the care of Cal Poly Pomona, the house is open to the public for tours led by the university’s architecture students every Saturday from 1-3PM. Once a year, they host an artist-in-residence, who lives at the house and creates an original installation. On view now until April 4th is work by ceramic artist Shio Kusaka. Details here.
BURGERS NEVER SAY DIE | It started as a backyard pop-up by Shawn Nee, now it has its own counter service joint in Silver Lake. There’s only one thing to order, a perfect smash burger with two, thin patties for maximum char bits and flavour. Don’t skip on the fries!
SKYLIGHT BOOKS | Fantastic indie bookstore, with regular author and artist events, and an Arts Annexe with books an all things art.
OTHER SIGHTS AND GOOD EATS
BRADBURY BUILDING | Duck into this historic landmark for an architectural treat, then go across the street for food at Grand Central Market (pictured above).
GRAND CENTRAL MARKET | A glorious mix of traditional and trendy, Grand Central Market is where you’ll find long-standing pupuserias, taquerias, alongside outposts offering pressed juices, craft beer, fried chicken sandwiches, great Thai food, those famous, fancy egg sandwiches, and so much more.
WYLDBNCH | For all things plants, located within creative venue The Container Yard in the Arts District. Details here.
LEO’S TACOS TRUCK | For tacos, hit up Leo’s Tacos Truck for their famed al pastor—spit-roasted pork with a little roasted pineapple on top.
SUN NONG DAN | For the best galbi jjim, or Korean short rib stew, open 24 hours a day. It’s worth the wait.
WHERE TO STAY
We chose to stay at The Everly, a boutique hotel located in Hollywood, for its close proximity to all the art fairs. Tucked away on a quiet street, just off the touristy bustle of Hollywood Boulevard, you enter into bright and airy lobby-lounge, with plenty of seating areas, a pool table, cool art, and the hotel’s Ever Bar. The welcoming main space, which feels more like a creative co-working space, leads to the hotel’s laidback coffee bar and restaurant Jane Q, which serves food all day, from healthy breakfasts in the morning, to pizzas from the wood-burning oven at lunch, cocktails and small bites in the afternoon, and heartier entrées such as pan seared salmon and herb roasted chicken in the evening. Opened in 2017, The Everly features 216 guest rooms, 12 suites, and a poolside sundeck where you’ll want to spend an afternoon, with its views of L.A. Rooms are stylish and comfortable, with thoughtful touches like a DIY cocktail kits and a yoga mat in-room. Tip: Opt for a room on one of the upper floors for sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills. Tip 2: From The Everly, you’re moments away from hiking trails through Griffith Observatory or around Hollywood Reservoir.