Art Fairs in Los Angeles

January 28, 2008 at 9:29 pm 6 comments

Over the weekend I visited two art fairs in Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Art Show, and ArtLA. The two shows were a study in contrasts.

These are fairs that art galleries exhibit in. Like Art Basel Miami Beach, but smaller. Each exhibiting gallery shows selected works by its artists.

Summary: go to the Los Angeles Art Show, and avoid ArtLA. (And Miami has nothing to fear.)

The Los Angeles Art Show

I visited the Los Angeles Art Show on Friday, when crowds were delightfully light. Of the 120-ish galleries exhibiting, some showed very traditional work (realism, landscapes, still-lifes, etc), some showed Impressionist work, and some showed contemporary work. More than a few showed work by dead artists, some of it by the biggest names (Picasso, Chagall, Miro, and Matisse, among others). Some of the work was highly abstract. Some was a little too conceptual for me, but I could still appreciate the skill and craftsmanship. I saw some lovely abstract encaustic work, which I’m always strongly attracted to, as well as layered works in resin, which has a similar effect on me. Lots of Early California work, which is always interesting to see. I even got to see one or two Pointillist works. But of course, I’m always happiest looking at work by living artists, and there was plenty of that too.

Here’s a wall of work by various artists from the George Billis Gallery, Los Angeles:

George Billis exhibit I particularly liked the freeway piece. Didn’t write down the artist’s name, sorry.

The showstopper for me was an abstract piece by elderly but still living artist Frank Taira, exhibited by the Sullivan-Goss Gallery (Santa Barbara, CA). The painting dates, I believe, from 1960. The complexity of the edges and shapes revealed by the myriad colorful brushstrokes kept me coming back, and finally I requested permission to photograph the piece. It’s about 5 feet wide:

Frank Taira painting I think you can see why I was so intrigued with this painting, given my penchant for bright colors, pointillism, and abstraction. This painting alone made the trip worth my while.


On Saturday I visited ArtLA. I was very disappointed.

Heavy crowds of twig-thin Hollywood-wannabees clogged the narrow aisles and obscured the art from those of us trying to look at the work. Loud noises were blasting through the echoing space, no doubt someone’s idea of an atmospheric soundscape, but it unfortunately sounded like an athsmatic wheezing into a microphone. I persevered. I was there to see the art, not “see and be seen”.

Unfortunately my perseverance was not paid off. Most of the art on display was very low-skill stuff. It looked like a bunch of last minute late-night art school projects. I’m sure it was meant to be highly conceptual, but mostly it came off as excruciatingly self-absorbed and/or very poorly executed. (Do I care which U.S. states some art-school graduate traveled to in the last 3 years? Are badly drawn cartoons of the presidential candidates necessary? Are goofy masks placed on the seats of childrens’ bicycles really that meaningful?)

One exception, and it really stood out for me, was Jonathon Runcio’s sculptural work exhibited by a San Francisco gallery called Ratio 3. This work really belonged over at the other show. It was well executed, balanced, intriguing, and an unusual use of materials. Oh, and colorful too. I always enjoy that.

Jonathan Runcio This photo fails to show the 3-dimensionality of the work and its fascinating light-capturing qualities, but at least you can see the colors. Photo stolen shamelessly from the ArtLA catalog. I couldn’t bring myself to take photos at the actual event.


Entry filed under: Art Appreciation, Shows.

“The Path in Rice Canyon” painting “Windswept” painting


  • 1. Art Blog » Art Fairs in Los Angeles  |  January 31, 2008 at 12:09 pm

    […] infamy placed an interesting blog post on Art Fairs in Los AngelesHere’s a brief overview […]

  • 2. K.R. Nilsen  |  February 4, 2008 at 9:45 am

    Hello Barbara,

    I stumbled upon your site while looking for pointallists working today, to gain inspiration for moving toward that technique in my own work. I thoroughly enjoyed your view of the world and the way you apply paint and enjoy color.

    My best to you.


  • 3. Constance Mettler  |  February 5, 2008 at 1:55 pm

    Such a good distinction between the two events. Thanks, Barbara.

    Since I cover juried art fairs (mostly street fairs), certainly one would think rather downscale from these events, it is fun to compare the two different venues. There are certainly artists from my field that could exhibit in either of these LA venues but refuse to play the games required for gallery representation.

  • 4. Go See Some Art « Barbara J Carter  |  January 23, 2009 at 4:36 pm

    […] Show is on this weekend (Jan 23-25, 2009) and I trust it will be worth seeing. At least, I found last year’s show worthwhile, and this year it’s supposed to be bigger (so, one hopes, it’ll be just as […]

  • 5. The 2012 Los Angeles Art Fair Season « Barbara J Carter  |  January 20, 2012 at 2:43 pm

    […] The 2008 shows Advertisement LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_bg", "ffffff"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_text", "414141"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_link", "6C8C37"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_border", "EDE8E2"); LD_AddCustomAttr("theme_url", "009193"); LD_AddCustomAttr("LangId", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Autotag", "technology"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Tag", "painting"); LD_AddSlot("wpcom_below_post"); LD_GetBids(); Like this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  • 6. 2008 in Review « Barbara J Carter  |  December 17, 2012 at 11:29 am

    […] made it to both of Los Angeles’ big art fairs in January, the Los Angeles Art Show (which I highly recommend) and ArtLA (which I don’t). I hope to get to many more galleries in 2009, and of course will […]

Barbara J Carter

I'm an artist. I make paintings with dots.

I work in acrylic paint, in a couple of distinct styles: landscapes and abstracts.

Native to California, I've lived elsewhere and only recently returned to my home state. I now live in Los Angeles.

I mostly show my art in outdoor festivals in California. I also occasionally show my work in art galleries or open studio events. You can see an up-to-date list of upcoming shows on my website (click here).

I invite you to sign up to receive my free email newsletter, in which I list my upcoming shows and talk about my latest work. I send it irregularly, a few times a year.

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Why I call my landscapes neo-Pointillist landscape paintings

A bunch of my abstract dot paintings

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