The 2010 Los Angeles Art Show
This year I once again made my annual pilgrimage to the Los Angeles Art Show. It’s nothing compared with Miami’s annual multi-fair extravaganza, but it’s all we get. Galleries come from near and far (from Los Angeles to as far away as South Korea) to show and sell their art.
It ran Thursday through Sunday, January 20-24, 2010. This was its second year in the cavernous Los Angeles Convention Center in downtown Los Angeles, a space I think works well for the show.
For me, getting downtown is a major trek, upwards of an hour of navigating some of LA’s worst freeways. And this year there was the added complication of rain. Not light rain, not even heavy rain. We’re talking the storm of the century (well, decade anyway): several days of massively-damaging flood-inducing accident-causing downpour. On Friday the weather finally broke a little (at least when I set out) so I toughed it out to get to the show. I am relieved to report that I made it there and back without any untoward incidents, and only a little gnashing of teeth.
Let’s take a look at the show!
My intention was to enjoy the show on a weekday when I could have the place to myself and see all the art unimpeded. I arrived early enough that I could take as long as I wanted, take breaks, and revisit the more interesting booths. I spent about 3 hours at the show. The place was very quiet when I arrived, but by the time I left it was getting busier. Annoying for me, but good news for the galleries.
This year I didn’t see nearly as much Chinese art as last year. The Koreans, however, were still much in evidence.
The layout was better this year than last. There weren’t any pinched corners like I noticed last year. And I really enjoyed the large open “lounge” area placed at the center of the show. It provided ample seating with an interesting assortment of sofas, chairs, benches and oversized ottomans. Even though the crowds were light, the lounge was well-used (mostly, it seemed, by exhibitors taking a break).
There was the usual wide variety of art from traditional to modern to contemporary. I didn’t notice many overarching themes this time, but one I did notice was what I’ll call the “woman-as-sex-object” theme. I don’t remember seeing so many paintings and sculptures of naked or scantily-clad provocatively-posed women in prior years. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention before. Certainly sex sells, and it always has. It just seemed a little more crass than usual this year.
Only a few pieces really grabbed me this year. The work by Brazilian artist Mauro Soares (the 3 square paintings in the center of the above photo, shown by the Ward-Nasse Gallery from New York) excited me more for its technique than its subject matter. His technique is a variation on Pointillism using thin, angular brushstrokes instead of dots. The effect is shimmering and lush, just the way I like it. Here’s a detail view of the center painting:
Although a lot of abstract works featured stripes this year, I was more taken by paintings with an all-over organic patterned feel, like this one by Ghanaian artist Rikki Wemega-Kwawu (shown by African Encounters Gallery):
and these by Tony Abeyta (shown by Blue Rain Gallery of Santa Fe, NM):
For another opinion about the show, see this article by Christopher Knight of the LA Times. I disagree with him about the “highlights” of the show. I thought the bird-call video was tiresome and ridiculous. (I find most conceptual art tiresome and ridiculous, so that’s not much of a surprise.) However, I will admit to enjoying the silly but fun “galaxy of moss-covered spheres” installation at Gallery 825’s booth. Take note: you don’t often hear me say anything positive about installations!
If you go next year, be sure to dig around on the LA Art Show website for the discount coupon for admission. And be smarter than I was: actually bring the coupon to the show. Oh well, next year.