by Chloe Diaz, Contributing Writer/Artist
This year, Valentine’s Day is bringing us art.
Friday marks the second year of the Frieze art fair in Los Angeles, bringing the collectors and the top-tier galleries flocking to the Paramount Studios in Hollywood, where 76 different galleries will be displaying their artists with artwork for sale. The Frieze art fair is the first of its kind to set up a temporary home in our sprawling, complex city, carrying with it a new token of legitimacy for the LA art world. While LA has long since prided itself on the creativity and the artistry that lives within it, international fine art approval has been reluctant and wavering.
This event is very clearly about sales and collectors, made transparent in the pricing of the tickets to the main tent: the current round of ticketing is priced from $200 – $500. The booth prices for galleries for the 2019 Frieze ranged from $8,277.5 for the smallest space to $76,198.5 for the largest. Fairs, in this sense, work to extend the gallery space and the art world into a mega-event, far from the context they reside in. The paradoxes that inhabit the art world are condensed and amplified.
Frieze 2020 is trying something new by featuring a section of the fair called Focus LA. It’s co-curated by Rita Gonzalez, a Whittier native who is a Department Head at LACMA, and Pilar Tomkins Rivas, the director of the Vincent Price Art Museum, and sets out to highlight emerging Los Angeles galleries and ground the fair to the multi-cultural and vibrant city. Among the galleries selected are The Pit, Bel Ami, Various Small Fires, as-is.la, Night Gallery, Château Shatto, and Francois Ghebaly, while the artists showing their work in Frieze’s backlot explore the themes of representation, identity and myth. In the Paramount Theatre, artist films curated by Venus Lau, Artistic Director of the K11 Art Foundation, will be screened, which will include the artists Otomo Katsuhiro, Jon Rafman, and Adrian Villar Rojas. The Frieze backlot is ticketed at $25.
The movement and activity towards recognizing the Los Angeles, Southern Californian, deeply and richly multi-cultural narrative within the beginning of the fair’s history is a glimpse into a more hopeful model of the over-arching art world. Galleries too often function as a removal of context, taking the artwork and placing it in a field of glowing white, strange shrines that alienate through class and color. Focus LA featuring Latinx artists such as Sayre Gomez, Vincent Ramos, Gabriella Sanchez, Tania Candiani, Jonathas de Andrade, Mario García Torres, demonstrates that there is a willingness and an energy being dispensed to include Black and Brown artists, expanding the art world in a necessary way.