It’s art fair season in Los Angeles… kicking-off this weekend with the LA Art Show and the 24th iteration of the international exposition photo la. Returning to downtown’s historic LA Mart fortress The REEF January 15-18th, photo la showcases a lens-based potpourri ranging from the 19th Century to contemporary explorations. In addition to a 3-day public program of lectures, discussions, installations, screenings, and tours, what sets photo la apart from other ‘art fair’ behemoth expositions, is it’s catering to forging a dialogue and platform for a growing art community.
Focus photo la programs included mentoring opportunities for growing DIY know-how with pro-tool lighting demos and seminars scripting things like the 15 Things You Can Do To Get Represented By A Gallery or how to get your work-funded.
Perhaps photo la’s efforts to situate itself between the followers and creators of the art market is best visualized in it’s representation of emerging artists alongside a roster of esteemed international galleries. Almost half of the space is allotted to highlighting work from BFA or MFA programs and nonprofit coalitions— presenting photos that are distinctly ‘new’— you haven’t seen them in other group shows before because they haven’t had the opportunity to be recycled… yet. They don’t appear contrived in content or display because they are allowed to be experiments.
Having been to the suite of fairs at Art Basel, or the nearby LA Art Show for that matter, what’s also of note from this hall presenting emerging and newly established artists is an allowance to exude interest in the work. If you want to ask a question to those attending the booth, you’re invited to… and if you ask a question… they will know and share their answers [setting any exasperated sighs or stares at your pocket book aside]. What photo la’s exhibition and program design emanate are a sincere effort to create what more art fairs should actually do: engage in an ongoing conversation beyond the white cube—starting from how to get there and what to do if you’ve arrived. What I most appreciate about photo la is that it is a boutique art experience— it’s not overwhelming and it’s not pretentious— it’s a manicured selection of investigations that feels like a localized celebration of photography.
For the full photo essay click here.