Books may be dead, but the art book lives on.
Dozens of presses, booksellers, vintage books dealers, zine makers, independent publishers and one radio station will gather at the Museum of Contemporary Art's Geffen Contemporary space in Little Tokyo this weekend for what promises to be an incredibly busy iteration of the L.A. Art Book Fair (LAABF).
Now in its third year, the fair from the nonprofit Printed Matter Inc. promises more than 250 exhibitors from all over the globe — from Mexico and Denmark to Israel and Japan — as well as numerous publishing outfits from the United States, including more than 100 from California alone.
Last year's fair drew more than 25,000 visitors over 3 1/2 days to ogle books, special edition prints, limited-edition zines and more. This year, says organizer Shannon Michael Cane, upward of 30,000 attendees are expected.
Culture stalwarts such as Artbook/D.A.P., Bullhorn Press and Otherwild, Gingko Press, Semiotext(e) and Siglio Press will all be in attendance. But there will be countless other exhibitors too, from museums to alt culture outfits.
Here's your High & Low guide to some of the most interesting books, objects and happenings at the L.A. Art Book Fair, which begins Thursday evening with a preview session that costs $10, but is free and open to the public Friday through Sunday.
ART OF THE NEW WAVE
Princeton Architectural Press: Mark Mothersbaugh is best known as a musician, composer and lead singer of the New Wave band Devo. But he is also a longtime artist (one who is about to be the subject of a touring museum exhibition that kicks off in Denver). And he will be at the fair on Friday at 2 p.m. signing copies of "Mark Mothersbaugh: Myopia." The new book by Princeton Architectural Press gathers an array of his pop-inflected works, including drawings, paintings and manipulated photographs.
A CHRONICLE OF DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES
East of Borneo: One of the last things that the artist, filmmaker and CalArts professor Allan Sekula worked on before he passed away in 2013 was a project that recorded the development of downtown Los Angeles during the rise of Frank Gehry's Disney Hall. That project is now contained in a posthumous book, published by the venerable arts website East of Borneo, and available at the organization's booth. Titled "Facing the Music: Documenting Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Redevelopment of Downtown Los Angeles," it contains the only essay Sekula ever wrote about Los Angeles. Our city, he noted, "defies the documentary genre: too protean, overly obsessed with fantastic schemes of what could be rather than confronting the concrete immediacy of the present or disturbing memories of the past." Sounds about right to me.
SAUCY AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL WORKS
Siglio Press: The American-born artist Dorothy Iannone merges art and life in graphic novel-esque works that seamlessly blend word and image. In vaguely autobiographical drawings, artist books and even a cookbook — which features deadpan lines about her life interwoven with recipes — Iannone has tackled issues of love, sexual awakening and her relationship to artist Dieter Roth. Siglio Press will have the compendium it published of her drawings and books, "You Who Read Me With Passion Now Must Forever Be My Friends," available for sale. A related exhibition, organized by Printed Matter, will showcase some of Iannone's original works.
MIX-TAPES MADE BY DJS AND A PAIR OF DENIM SHORTS
KCHUNG: The collective behind the alt-art radio station KCHUNG in L.A.'s Chinatown will be on hand to broadcast a series of performances all day Saturday, but there will also be plenty of merch at the booth — including original mix-tapes, zines and artwork made by the station's DJs. Perhaps most intriguing will be the various items taken from KCHUNG's lost-and-found — water bottles, a jacket, a pair of denim shorts — and decorated with KCHUNG designs. (Note to self: Never leave your stuff at the KCHUNG offices.)
A BOOTH THAT LOOKS LIKE A KITCHEN
Gagosian Gallery: Gagosian Gallery is launching a new cookbook by Brooklyn-based chef Mina Stone called "Cooking for Artists." Stone regularly cooks for high-profile gallerists such as New York's Gavin Brown and artist Urs Fischer (who had a solo at the Museum of Contemporary Art in 2013). To launch the title, Gagosian will transform its LAABF booth into a loose replica of a kitchen that is designed and curated by Fischer. This will include new prints by Fischer, in addition to an array of books and printed works by and about artists such as Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, Piero Golia and Jenny Saville. Plus — FREE FOOD ALERT — there will be treats prepared by Stone.
KNITTING, BONDAGE AND ALT GUIDES TO L.A.
Llano del Rio Collective: Llano del Rio, the loose, politically minded art collective led by artist, writer and teacher Robby Herbst will feature a number of the group's alternative guides to Southern California, which include everything from a map of locally conceived utopias to a guide of our fair city's more dastardly figures. There will also be copies of "Knotty," a book by L.A. artist Lisa Anne Auerbach that brings together the fine arts of bondage and knitting.
VINTAGE QUEER CHICANO ZINES
Maricón Collective: The four-man art group from L.A.'s Eastside (LA Weekly has a good history) is re-issuing two editions of Chicano artist Joey Terrill's late-1970s queer zine, "Homeboy Beautiful." Terrill was the subject of a solo exhibition at the ONE Archives Gallery & Museum in West Hollywood in 2013. This represents an opportunity to lay your hands on some pretty rare work — only 100 copies will be printed of each.
FLUXUS WARES AND SCARVES
Art Catalogues at LACMA: The L.A. County Museum of Art's book shop specializes in current and out-of-print exhibition catalogs. It will be bringing an array of out-of-print material related to the Fluxus movement. There will also be some limited-edition scarves by Sol Lewitt and John Baldessari — the latter of which reads, "I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art." Hoping for an update that reads, "I Will Not Make Any More Boring Blog Posts."
SNOWBOARDS AND NECK FACE
8 Ball Zines: All the way from snowy New York, 8 Ball Zines will have a new zine by legendary graffiti artist Neck Face and snowboards by artist Peter Sutherland. A good stop for the shred heads.
Want to know more about the L.A. Art Book Fair? Darin Klein at the Hammer Museum has been spotlighting SoCal artists whose work will be featured at the fair on the museum's blog in one, two, three and four parts.
The Los Angeles Art Book Fair (LAABF) will be held from Friday noon to 7 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. There is a special preview on Thursday evening from 6 to 9 p.m. with musical performances by No Age and Prince Rama. Admission for the preview is $10 (which can be purchased in advance online). Other days are free and open to the general public. MOCA Geffen, 152 North Central Ave., downtown Los Angeles, laartbookfair.net.
Find me on Twitter @cmonstah.