April 21, 2024
Frieze LA and Beyond: An Insider’s Guide to the Los Angeles Art Scene

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Frieze LA
Frieze L.A. in 2023. Photo by River Callaway/WWD via Getty Images

Los Angeles continues to solidify its place as a cultural hub, attracting prominent artists, museums and New York-based galleries drawn in by its gravitational pull—not to mention Southern California’s enviable climate and relaxed atmosphere. While L.A.’s art scene has experienced pivotal bursts of growth and evolution, the changes happening now are setting a different tone and pace with some art experts referring to this period as the Los Angeles’ golden era of art. What’s beyond doubt is that the city has firmly staked its position as a destination for art aficionados, boasting headline-grabbing gallery and museum exhibitions, revered art fairs and a coordinated push to keep highlighting talented, historically under-represented artists.

The Obvious Must-See: Frieze L.A.

If you’re currently in Los Angeles, you don’t want to miss this standout March art fair. Inspired by the acclaimed annual Frieze Art Fair in London, Frieze L.A. now draws gallerists and collectors from far and wide who come to see the vibrant artwork and attend the associated cultural events that enliven this city. This year, Frieze Los Angeles will take place from February 29 through March 3 at the Santa Monica Airport, which will host 95 gallery showcases.

One must-see booth is Sean Kelly Gallery’s solo presentation of L.A.-based conceptual artist Awol Erizku (stand A18). Erizku confronts traditional Eurocentric interpretations of beauty, tapping into varied inspirations ranging from Ancient Egypt to hip-hop, using mediums such as neon work, photographs, lightbox and silkscreen with an accompanying musical playlist. Visitors should also look for the site-specific artworks dotting the fair and inspired by the unique history of Santa Monica Airport, where Hollywood set designers in the early 1940s created an entire mock suburb to camouflage WWII operations. These pieces are part of The Art Production Fund’s “Set Seen” exhibition.

Other L.A. art happenings worth checking out

A stylized painting of a blonde woman in a white bathing suit in front of a red backgroundA stylized painting of a blonde woman in a white bathing suit in front of a red background
‘Coca Cola Girl 1’ (2019). Lococo Fine Art Publishing

First, head across town to Felix Art Fair—another must-see Los Angeles art fair, which runs concurrently with Frieze. This unique fair, located in the iconic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, ingeniously fills guest rooms with artwork from galleries both well-known and emerging, creating an exciting, Spring Break atmosphere. Some exhibition rooms open right onto the pool, making the fair not only a great Hollywood hangout but also a true breath of fresh air. Felix’s set-up always introduces me to new and exciting artists, which is why it’s an event I attend every year.

Next on my must-see list is this month’s debut of Destination Crenshaw, an open-air museum that spans more than a mile and celebrates Black artists with connections to L.A., where you can see pieces by Kehinde Wiley, Artis Lane, Maren Hassinger and others.

Beyond that are two gallery exhibitions that visitors and L.A. natives and transplants should make time to see.

David Kordansky Gallery presents Sam Gilliam’s “The Last Five Years

This exhibition celebrates trailblazing artist Sam Gilliam with three bodies of work from his last five years: watercolors, drapes and tondos. To me, Gilliam’s drapes (made from washi, a handmade Japanese paper soaked in both watercolor and acrylic paint) embody the genius in material experimentation that cemented his name in the art world. The vibrant yet translucent drapes are pleasantly haunting, suspended from the ceiling, they immerse us in his art.

Marian Goodman Gallery presents Tavares Strachan’s “Magnificent Darkness

From groundbreaking, MacArthur Prize-winning artist Tavares Strachan, this six-environment show is epic in size and scope, with site-specific work that utilizes mediums including ceramic, bronze, marble, hair, painting, neon and sound. The newly built Seward Gallery space has been transformed: a vast clay earthen floor challenges visitors’ expectations and contextualizes life-sized ceramic sculptures depicting notable African American figures and themes of aspiration and hidden histories.

Rounding out my list of must-see art in L.A. is the Getty Center’s new exhibition, “First Came a Friendship: Sidney B. Felsen and the Artists at Gemini G.E.L.” For those fascinated with the relationships between artists and their processes, this exhibition delivers context and celebrates the art world’s seminal late-20th-century pioneers as well as prominent 21st-century artists.

Finally, make time to stop by Santa Monica’s iconic Shutters on the Beach hotel. Perched on the Pacific coast, the resort invited me to curate an art collection that would blend the novel with the familiar. I selected pieces that evoked an upbeat, relaxed, oceanside vibe, including Ellsworth Kelly’s celebrated leaves (Cyclamen II, Cyclamen IV and Camellia III), John Baldessari’s depiction of fish (Blueberry Soup, and Carrot Soup) and David Hockney’s whimsical land and seascapes—many of which are readily viewable while dining or relaxing at the hotel.

My most recent acquisition for the resort is Coca Cola Girl 1 by pop artist Alex Katz, a nostalgic lithograph hung in the lobby area, a stone’s throw away from Claes Oldenburg’s Slicing Strawberry Shortcake—an etching of a large slice of strawberry-topped cake leisurely floating down a river. Feel free to get in touch with me, as for a limited time during Frieze, I’ll be giving private tours of the property’s collection as part of the resort’s Culture on the Coast package.

Art Los Angeles Contemporary Reception At The Home Of Gail And Stanley HollanderArt Los Angeles Contemporary Reception At The Home Of Gail And Stanley Hollander
Art advisor Cynthia Greenwald (l.) and Alex Couri at the Art Los Angeles Contemporary Reception at the home of Gail and Stanley Hollander. Photo by Jesse Grant/WireImage

Beyond Frieze: An Insider’s Guide to What’s On in the Los Angeles Art Scene



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