For a few days I escaped from Los Angeles to Palm Springs. I visited several art galleries, saw a very fine Richard Diebenkorn exhibit at the Palm Springs Art Museum, and attended the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair.
Palm Springs is only a couple of hours away from Los Angeles. It’s a well-known winter vacation getaway in the middle of the desert. Famous for its devotion to the aesthetics of the mid-20th Century, it’s also one of the most gay-friendly cities in the US. It’s a relaxed, happy place, and I always love visiting.
The Palm Springs Fine Art Fair is an international art fair similar to, but smaller than, those I’ve blogged about here in Los Angeles. I was surprised to learn that this was only its third year; it looked really well-established. The exhibitors were universally upbeat and enthusiastic (in contrast with some of the grumps I’ve run into in L.A.). A few had traveled quite a long distance, from Europe or Asia, but all were smiling. I guess it is hard to be unhappy in Palm Springs. (The super warm weather didn’t hurt either.)
Friday at midday it was nice and quiet, just the way I like it. Not deserted, just not too busy. (The previous evening’s opening party was mobbed. You could hardly move, never mind see the art.)
The emphasis of this art show is “modern and contemporary” which means 20th and 21st century.
The work seemed mostly well chosen and highly finished. Even the conceptual stuff, which I’m not usually enamored with, was mostly well done. No half-assed art-school projects here! But mostly I prefer aesthetics over politics.
Here are some of my favorites:
Sarah Frost, “Y Pause (QUERTY #13),” 2014, made of discarded computer keys (and a few typewriter and other keys), 48 x 96 inches, $20,000 from William Shearburn Gallery, Saint Louis, Missouri. I really like this, it’s so clever. It’s one of those “why didn’t I think of that?” pieces.
Here’s a detail:
Encountering this next artist at the (overly crowded) opening party led to a fun conversation about technical details that I could relate to as a fellow acrylic painter:
Kristina Quinones, “Incubate,” acrylic on panel, 36 x 36 inches, $6,000 from The McLoughlin Gallery, San Francisco, California. The artist uses highly fluid acrylic paint flowed across the surface in sheer veils. The super-glossy finish is pure acrylic. We both agreed this is superior to the “shiny today but yellow tomorrow” resin finish that’s such a fetish with artists right now. How fun to encounter a kindred soul in that sea of humanity. High fives were exchanged.
Artist Mayme Kratz with her work in the Lisa Sette Gallery booth from Scottsdale, Arizona. Left: “Fragments,” 2013, resin, shells, crabs, starfish, bone, buds on panel, 36 x 36 inches. Right top: “Circle Dream 40,” 2013, resin and Mexican bird of paradise seeds on panel, 24 x 24 inches, $4500. Right bottom: “Circle Dream 50,” 2013, resin and acorn cupules on panel, 24 x 24 inches, $4500.
I felt really fortunate that Kratz was present on Friday. She was very free with details about her fascinating technique. (I do so appreciate artists who aren’t insecure about sharing their “secrets.”) She embeds carefully-placed natural materials within deep, colored resin pours, and then sands down the surface to reveal cross-sections of the seed pods, grasses, and shells. Some of the fair’s promotional material featured her work (and it caught my attention), but it’s even better in person. The tiny crab at the bottom of “Fragments” is just too cute.
Check out the superb photos of Kratz’s work here (gallery’s website).
And, finally, some more conceptual work. Yeah, conceptual isn’t usually my cup of tea, but this piece is pretty powerful:
Angela Ellsworth, “Seer Bonnet XIX (Flora Ann),” 2011, made from 24,182 corsage pins, fabric, steel, and wood, 64 x 25 x 40 inches, $13,900 from Lisa Sette Gallery, Scottsdale, Arizona. A lovely pearl-studded bonnet made entirely of sharp pins… pretty on the outside and painful on the inside. Ouch!
I saw nearly this exact piece at the Palm Springs Art Museum just before going to the fair, so it was a double-whammy for me. It’s a striking piece; you can’t help but stop and look (twice, even). A pointed comment on femininity, you might say.
So, did you notice anything unusual about this lineup of artists I picked out? They’re all women. Yup, the gals are doing some amazing work out there. I didn’t realize all my favs were by women until I started going through my photos, but then it struck me. Maybe someday that won’t be noteworthy.
If you’re in Palm Springs next Presidents Day Weekend, I recommend the Palm Springs Art Fair. It’s well worth seeing.
Every January for the past 19 years, art galleries from all over the world have schlepped selected works of art to Los Angeles for the LA Art Show. Other large art fairs here seem to come and go, but the venerable (19 years is venerable in L.A., trust me) LA Art Show keeps going strong.
I think it was even bigger and better this year.
Sadly, we seem to have lost the Affordable Art Fair which ran concurrently with the LA Art Show a couple years ago. It was easy to walk to it from the LA Art Show, but it’s nowhere to be seen again this year. I guess Los Angeles just can’t handle that much art. Still, I’m excited to see the LA Art Show doing so well. We need more people in this city taking an interest in and collecting art. The money is here, it’s just a question of education and taste. (Always a bit questionable in Tinseltown, admittedly.) This is the kind of show to draw them in.
I finally remembered to take an establishing shot of the exterior this time! It only took me 7 years. This is the LA Convention Center, where the LA Art Show has been held since 2009:
The show ran Thursday through Sunday, January 16-19, 2014. I went on Friday, and like the last couple years I took public transportation to avoid Los Angeles’ infamous traffic. It’s no faster than driving, but it is easier and safer. Plus, this year I discovered there was a whopping 50% discount on show admission if you showed your Metro (“Tap”) card, so I happily claimed my discount. I’d prefer free, but half off ain’t bad.
Weekdays at this show are pretty quiet, which is great for me (I want to see art, not crowds). It’s less good for the exhibitors who sit around twiddling their thumbs for two days. It does seem to pick up in the evenings, but the daylight hours on weekdays are somewhat wasted for the exhibitors. Sorry guys! I like it like this:
I found myself skimming through the traditional section pretty quickly, and didn’t really stop for pictures. One gallery I wanted to take photos in didn’t allow it (I always ask first), and the others didn’t have anything that grabbed me enough to stop. But I did see some good art by dead artists; it’s worth going to this show if you’re into that. There’s always a lot of early-California Impressionism here; I saw several Edgar Payne paintings.
Of the more contemporary work, which made up the bulk of the show, there were some real standouts for me this year.
My favorite was Leslie Smith Gallery. This was their first year in the LA Art Show, and they really started with a bang. They must have paid dearly for their prime location and extra-large booth space, but it sure looked good. As soon as I entered the hall I was drawn to this huge Australian Aboriginal painting on the outside of their booth:
Tjawina Porter Nampitjinpa (b. 1950), untitled, acrylic on canvas, 96 x 192 inches, price on request from Leslie Smith Gallery. Really, this painting should be in a museum.
detail (click to enlarge):
Inside the booth was more Aboriginal art, which they specialize in (along with other contemporary art). I enjoyed all the work they showed but since Aboriginal art is a passion of mine I just took pictures of that.
Emily Kame Kngwarreye (1910-1996), “Grass Seed Blue” and “Grass Seed Red,” acrylic on canvas, 73 x 35 inches each, $125,000 each at Leslie Smith Gallery.
Lorna Ward Napanangka (b. 1961), “Marrapinti,” acrylic on canvas, 60 x 48 inches, $17,500 at Leslie Smith Gallery.
Sarrita King (b. 1988), “Earth Circles,” acrylic on canvas, 59 x 17 inches, $4500 at Leslie Smith Gallery.
Barbara Weir (b. 1945), “Grass Seeds,” acrylic on canvas, 47 x 35 inches, $12,500 at Leslie Smith Gallery.
Proceeding around the hall (and around the globe) we now stop in Japan where I admired some painterly textile art:
Some more work I found interesting:
LA Roc (Angel Ortiz), several pieces; the largest: “Yellow Cat,” oil and marker on canvas, 36 x 36 inches, 2013, $14,500 at Lawrence Fine Art, East Hampton, New York. (Puzzlingly, this gallery also had numerous traditional old-school landscape paintings displayed in their booth. They admitted they don’t usually show such disparate work side-by-side in their gallery. I found it quite jarring.) LA Roc apparently worked closely with Keith Haring as a youngster and now his work so closely resembles Haring’s that the gallery feels compelled to introduce him as “not Keith Haring.” (wince)
For more horror vacui, we travel all the way to China:
Li Ying, “Happy,” acrylic on canvas, 79 x 55 inches, 2013, $28,000 shown in the group show “Hues of China.” Can I possibly express how much I love this person’s work? Here, take a closer look (words! heraldry! figures! stuff!):
Finally, let’s return to where we started, at that large open space between my two favorite booths in the show. Across from the fantastic display of Aboriginal art at Leslie Smith was the fun and intriguing display by ACE Gallery of Los Angeles. What I loved best about it was the experience of threading my way through the mazelike booth, turning a corner to discover yet another delightful vignette of odd and intriguing works. A couple of standouts for me were these:
Brian Wills, untitled, rayon thread and enamel on wood, 36 x 36 inches, no price indicated, shown by ACE Gallery, Los Angeles. Those colored lines are threads (of the ordinary sewing sort), stretched across the piece and affixed only to the sides of the board. They weave under and over each other near the center to make that translucent effect. Mesmerizing up close, graphic from a distance. My kind of stuff.
Two views of the same piece (which exhibited an exciting color shift as you moved around it): Gilsela Colon, “Rectangle Torque Glo-Pod (Iridescent Hot Red/Pink),” blow-molded acrylic, 31h x 65w x 12d inches, 2013, no price indicated, shown by ACE Gallery. It looks a lot deeper than 12 inches, doesn’t it? Strange and mysterious but oddly compelling.
Thank you, LA Art Show. Good show this year!
A couple times a year I mail postcards to announce an upcoming art show or group of shows I’m doing.
(I say a “couple” because it’s been exactly two per year for several years now. But maybe some year I’ll do three. I’m leaving myself some wriggle room here. Anyway, it’s not much mail. Very non-spammy.)
You are totally missing out if you’re not getting my postcards. They’re free to you, and each features a new painting in full glorious glossy color. Some people frame them and hang them up. I think that’s great! Heck, after a few years you’ll have a nice little grouping for that odd empty corner where nothing else fits.
If you’re not getting my postcards, you should get in on the action. What’s to lose?
My last postcard, shown here, announced my participation in the 2013 Kings Mountain Art Fair in northern California. Doesn’t that look nice?
I love showing my art at the Kings Mountain Art Fair. It’s held once a year, on Labor Day weekend (end of August/early September). This year marks the show’s 50th anniversary! Woo! Congratulations Kings Mountain! That’s longevity.
Coast Views Magazine did a very nice story about the show’s history.
If you’re anywhere near the San Francisco Bay Area this Labor Day, you should come. I’ll be in my usual place anchoring the far north end of the show, under the majestic redwood trees. The spectacular forest setting has to be seen to be believed. (The photo above is a view of the fair from near my booth.)
Of course I’ll be showing a whole bunch of brand-new never-before-seen paintings, including several tree paintings in bright, happy colors, as well as some experimental new work. Wanna see? Come to the show! (Subscribers to my highly infrequent email newsletter* get a sneak peek.)
Kings Mountain Art Fair
13889 Skyline Bl, Woodside, California (click for map)
Saturday, Sunday and Monday
August 31 – Sept. 2, 2013
10am – 5pm
Free admission, free on-street parking, free parking shuttle
*Sign up for my email newsletter here!
Fellow Los Angeles artist and friend Sarah Hage wrote about my art in her blog. I didn’t know until after she published it. “Hope you don’t mind I blogged about you” she wrote me.
No, I don’t mind. I’m honored! And she writes really well, which is always a pleasure. You should read it. (click here)
Unlike my last time there (when I took the photo above) the show is now held in a grassy field. I think that’ll be nicer.
And hey lookee, the local rag chose one of my paintings to feature in their calendar section. Whee! I’m famous! (click to see larger)
La Jolla Festival of the Arts
June 22-23, 2013
10am – 5pm Saturday & Sunday
Warren Field, University of California at San Diego (click for map)
3453 Voigt Dr., San Diego, CA
Paid admission, free parking
I’m in booth 903 but there aren’t 900 artists at the show. I’m just located on Row 9, which is the last row.
Here’s a detailed map of the show layout (click to see):
I’m showing my art in the beautiful Beverly Hills Art Show this year. Held in a lovely park in the heart of Beverly Hills, this is easily the best Los Angeles outdoor art show. It’s well worth visiting if you’re in the area.
This is a highly competitive show for artists to get into. I’ve shown here before, but I don’t get accepted every year! So I’m very happy to be back this year.
And of course this show is local for me, so no traveling and no hotels. I get to sleep in my own bed. Ahhhh! That’s nice.
See you there!
Look for me in Booth 401, in the end block at the east end of the show.