And Speaking of Auctions, Fairs, and Presidents...

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at100126a.jpgIn Southern California, where most cultural institutions are not more than a few decades old, the upcoming 60th anniversary of the Long Beach Museum of Art is definitely a milestone. Starting on February 5, the museum will present a series of interesting exhibitions drawn from its permanent collection and introducing a new generation of museum-goers to the high points in the Long Beach Museum's history of collecting and exhibitions. Thanks to its extremely picturesque location - high on a bluff overlooking the Pacific -- the museum grounds are a popular venue for various celebrations. Though I tried to find on the museum website any appealing art-related images, none of them could compete with the hilariously adorable photo of a leapfrogging wedding party – you simply must check it out on the KCRW website.

at100126b.jpgOf the three Los Angeles art fairs I talked about at the beginning of the month, two have come and gone, and to be completely honest, I was not particularly impressed by either Photo LA, at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, or the LA Art Show, at the downtown Convention Center. Though everything was handled professionally and ran smoothly, the overall tone of both fairs was rather subdued, and art-wise there were not many surprises. Therefore, one hopes that this Thursday night's event, the opening of the newly minted Art LA Contemporary at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, will provide a much-needed boost to the city's art scene. Of the three art fairs, this one hosts the most impressive roster of high-profile galleries, and let's be honest, the Pacific Design Center is a much more welcome and accessible place than the venues of either of the two previous art fairs. And as any LA realtor will tell you, it's always Location, Location, Location...

at100126c.jpgI'm especially intrigued by one event at this fair, titled 1 Image 1 Minute, which will take place this Saturday at 4pm at the Silver Screen Theater at the PDC. More than 45 artists, curators, and historians each will present one photograph of their choosing, projecting it for a duration of one minute on the big screen, while sharing their ideas and anecdotes tied to the image. One never knows whether it will be great fun or a complete fiasco, but the idea is definitely appealing.

at100126d.jpgAnd talking about unusual and appealing: what would you say about an art auction where the mighty and powerful will spend millions to acquire an artwork created by...a head of state? Any guess where that might be? Definitely not here in the good old U.S. of A, where no president in recent memory dared to be associated with art-making. And it's not in France or England, either. Allow me for a second to be sentimental and to muse over a recent peculiar event, an auction which took place in Russia, in the city of St. Petersburg, where I was born. During the auction, a black-and-white photograph created by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev sold for a cool 51 million rubles, which translates to an equally cool $1.7 million. Only a year ago, at another auction there, a painting by Vladimir Putin -- former President and current Prime Minister of Russia - went for $1.1 million. Can you imagine someone here in America -- let's say Rupert Murdoch or Bill Gates -- fighting for the pleasure of owning an original work by George W. Bush or Barack Obama? Boy, that would be a day to remember.

Art Los Angeles Contemporary
January 28-31
Pacific Design Center, West Hollywood

Banner image: A wedding party celebrates at the Long Beach Museum of Art