Thursday, August 11, 2011

Not So Quiet In The Western Front: Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2011

Fair Grounds

Art fairs are synonymous for they mark any given city’s relationship with a local art community and the international art world market. Los Angeles is fairly new and in the rocky path towards the art fair staple. Lately, the landscape is shifting for better or worse. A city widely known in the art world for the freedom it offers to artists which often turns into a mystical freeway bound metropolis. Surprisingly luring (young) talented artists, but i should not use such a term as "surprisingly" for Los Angeles it's no surprise, as cynical as I may sound... In LA, it seems that the notion of endless sun, the beach, it's palm trees, the dessert, after all it's many landscapes and moods offer such freedoms for those that choose to live here.

As artist Dawn Kasper expressed the initial muses that brought her to our city, during a panel, you got the feeling that Art Los Angeles Contemporary might be the last piece to the puzzle, but as the latter confirmed, it’s merely the beginning.

Thursday’s opening was accompanied by a cacophonous harmony of voices linking all in unison. At first sight I greeted Kathryn Brennan, former Chinatown gallerist who was in town from New York. Pace-fully, I traverse my way through the still rather small in scale labyrinth that is Art Los Angeles Contemporary. The roster of galleries grew, as over 70 galleries were scheduled in the roster, with both returning and new contenders in a rather new art fair scene. I was particularly drawn to Liz Craft at Patrick Painter’s booth, but as soon as movement climbed the hierarchy over visualization, Liz Glynn’s Amphitheater / performance piece rose my enthusiasm.

Aaron Wrinkle and Dan Graham

As expected, Saturday attracted quite a crowd, but the environment couldn't compare to Thursday night. The highlight of the day, and one I was looking forward to a month prior, involved artists Aaron Wrinkle and Dan Graham in conversation. The impulsive conversation made a memorable one, but specifically Graham’s recollection of artist, girlfriend Lee Lozano. Sharing that Lozano never showed him her work. It was only after her death that he discovered she was a great artist. He went on to acknowledge the problem of women artists and their unrecognized histories as artists. After the talk, my guest and I stuck around, seemingly with a lost look in our eyes. Luckily, we had the chance to ask Aaron Wrinkle of a large Ziploc bag full of metaphorical connectivity in the form of coins, all from the same year -- 1966 as I can recall (?). We also spoke to Graham of New York City, and as quickly as his mind made a connection, he shared a recent conversation he had with friends at The New School. Graham is silently impulsive and that might just be one of the main reasons I have always silently admired his work and persona.

Human Resources Gallery

Dan Graham Gallery

Attraction to these events (art fairs) comes from the variety of scheduled panels and not so much the logistics of art being sold... However, visualization can’t be ignored... And some of my local favorite spaces were showcasing their work. Human Resources displayed work of artist Gustavo Herrera along with two mounted televisions on top of each other with projected videos of documented performances at their space in Chinatown, and what seemed like a music video. Newspapers advertising The Collective Show, Chinatown 2011 and another explaining their mission laid in the floor. Dan Graham’s booth was a graceful communion of artists as their booth constantly changed; the adding of a newspaper or the floor plan of Dan Graham gallery, a space which was run by artist Aaron Wrinkle. Night Gallery shared a booth with Eight Veil showcasing the sultry darkness of Paul Heyer's work.

I found Richard Jackson's paintings to be more rich than his sculptural work displayed in David Kordansky's booth, though if compared next to each other, the paintings are deaf and the sculptures well, they're loud.

Standard Oslo Gallery

I noticed that Standard Oslo displayed the same particular work from last year, but as I remember they were quite popular for their minimalism and repetition. The dry wit of Standard, Oslo Gallery attracted Jeffrey Deitch, a certain piece with and air of American artists Justin Lowe and Jonah Freeman, but I did not catch the artist's name ( a photograph of the work is shown above!.)

Luke Butler’s contemplation of Star Trek characters at Silvermann gallery from San Francisco were one of my favorite works in the fair, with a contemplation that troubled me at either spectacle or dry humor.
At Jancar gallery I was pleasantly surprised to encounter two works of artist Dawn Kasper.

“Everybody knows her as the girl that hurts herself, but she's also a photographer”, Tom Jancar expressed. Touching on Kasper’s history/practice with performance art in Los Angeles.

Dawn Kasper photographs/documentation at Jancar Gallery

When Sunday rolled around the Californian sun and airport stage worked well, but the scene was rather different. Once again, as mere spectator, one can only look and at a day’s end I gravitated towards John Espinosa at Annie Wharton’s booth. The dark architectural Espinosa was the last glimpse, one that quite nicely connected with the skeletal framework of the fair. As crates moved in to do their jobs, to decentralized the structure of the art fair, a yet unfamiliar air to the landscape of Los Angeles, but one that is slowly becoming more familiar.

John Espinosa
John Espinosa sculpture at Annie Wharton Gallery