Fairs, Fairs on the Wall, Which Is Prettiest of Them All?

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So, ladies and gentlemen, this is the time of the year when all of you, art lovers, must put on running shoes and make a mad dash around town. Once again, the month of January is crowded in L.A. with art fairs that bring here hundreds of art dealers from the United States and abroad, all of them eager to spread before you thousands of paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos — you name it.

at110111d.jpgLet's start our marathon with Photo LA which opens this week at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium (January 13-17). This fair has been in existence for 20 years and what I especially like about it is that visitors are not only able to see the works displayed on the walls but also can browse through thousands of photos stored in bins and boxes in every booth. This is the ultimate hands-on experience for art lovers and the perfect moment to chat with dealers, ask questions and inquire about prices.

at110111c.jpgYou have only a couple days to catch your breath before another art fair descends on our City of Angels. This time, you have to dash to the Convention Center in downtown L.A., where the 16th Annual Los Angeles Art Show (January 19-23) will gather more than one hundred international dealers. In a welcomed move, the organizers of this year's fair decided to add an extra attraction to business as usual. They invited a number of well-regarded Chinese galleries to show their artists and also asked a prominent Chinese museum (Guangzhou's 53 Art Museum) to present a special exhibition of contemporary Chinese art.

at110111a.jpgAt the youngest and probably the most adventurous of all three fairs, Art Los Angeles Contemporary (January 27-30), about 70 exhibitors will fill the cavernous space of Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport. Last year, this fair had a trial run at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, but there were some unfortunate glitches that persuaded organizers to change venues. I am especially intrigued by the fact that 10 participating galleries will present a single artist project, which will give this fair its own particular art flair.

I also highly recommend that you check out the websites for each of the fairs to choose from a rich variety of lectures, collector's seminars and tours of private collections around town. And please share with me your experiences of these fairs so we can decide together which is the fairest of them all.

at110111b.jpgLast week, members of the press were invited to a news conference in downtown L.A. to see a glimpse of yet another art museum that indefatigable and mercurial philanthropist Eli Broad is planning to bestow upon our city. Judging by the presented plans, the museum, designed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, promises to be more adventurous and mysterious than one could ever expect from such a demanding and controlling client as Mr. Broad. It's worth noticing that the budget for the new building, in excess of $130 million, is almost three times larger than for BCAM, designed by Renzo Piano on the LACMA campus.

at110111e.jpgWhen I asked the architect, Elizabeth Diller, about this project, I was heartened to learn that she is not only an artist in her own right but also has valuable knowledge from curating art exhibitions. And such experience definitely sets her apart from most other architects and bodes well for the new Broad Museum, which will keep happy company on Grand Avenue with MoCA and Disney Hall.


Photo LA runs January 13-17, 2011, Santa Monica Civic Auditorium

16th Annual Los Angeles Art Show runs January 19-23, LA Convention Center

Art Los Angeles Contemporary runs January 27-30, 2011, Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport

Broad Art Foundation Fly-Through Animation

To see images discussed in Art Talk, go to KCRW.com/ArtTalk

Banner image: (L) Barker Hangar at Santa Monica Airport; (R) LA Art Show at the Convention Center Downtown