ART FAIR START-UPS IN L.A. NOT NEW TO NEW YORK
By Bill Lasarow
The new art fair model is plural, and you can underline that with an exclamation point with three of them debuting in Los Angeles at the tail end of September. With that weekend (September 30 through October 2) coinciding with the official start of Pacific Standard Time, nobody is debating over the motives for the timing.
Neither is it particularly coincidental that all three fairs are produced out of New York City. Chew on that one as you celebrate PST’s theme: L.A.’s art history from 1945 to 1980. Hmmm.
L.A. Mart, host venue to Art Platform - Los Angeles, is a downtown property owned by fair operator MMPI.
The geography of the venues is also eyebrow raising: All are downtown, and none have previously hosted anything remotely resembling an art fair. If branding is all about audience awareness and reputation, this is a great opportunity for fair investors to build one free of any baggage. Keeping that in mind, each fair has clearly staked out its own distinct territory and constituency based on a minimum of five years experience producing these things in the country’s most established art fair markets, New York, Miami and Chicago.
Art Platform - Los Angeles is, without any doubt, the centerpiece event, attracting about eighty galleries to buy booth space up on the 2nd floor space that will see the major action, a hopefully unruly group of non-profits taking over the basement (under the invited guidance of Torrance Art Museum Director Max Presneill), and various special events filling up additional time and space. Art Platform Director Adam Gross came in with a positive local reputation for bridging the creative and business communities, and with a game plan to make this fair a destination for more of the international collectors and curators than have been drawn to L.A. in the past. Opinion about the chosen site for Art Platform has been mixed to say the least. But there is one brilliant premise that did make the L.A. Mart a natural choice: the show’s management company, MMPI, happens to own the property.
PULSE decided to head for L.A. Live’s Event Deck and its big tent. Attracting younger contemporary galleries with generally lower price tags is central to an approach that has made this a successful complementary fair tag-along to, most notably, Art Basel in Miami. Surrounded by multi-media projects, large scale installations, and L.A. Live itself it sounds to us like a nice ticket.
Head for the heart of the loft district near the L.A. River for the Fountain Art Fair, which bills itself as punk, scrappy and alternative. You’ll find the address in the Listings section, but most of you had better do a Google Maps search before heading over there. At press time we don’t know who the “smaller independent galleries” will be, but expect some in your face art, loads of artists and art students in traditional black, cheap booze, and earsplitting music.
The Event Deck tent at L.A. Live puts the PULSE art fair in the heart of Downtown's weekend night life.