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L.A. Art Fair: Color It Bright for ’89

What’s the biggest obstacle to selling ART/LA89 to art dealers from the East Coast and Europe? “The Convention Center is not at the beach,” said Brian Angel and Charlie Scheips, who are planning Los Angeles’ fourth annual international art fair, which will be held Dec. 7-11 at the downtown Convention Center.

People who don’t live in Southern California have a hard time understanding that two of the necessary ingredients for a successful fair in Los Angeles are freeway access and safe parking, so Angel, fair director, and Scheips, project manager, spend a lot of time explaining those facts of life and hyping the city as the art world’s “growth capital.”

They have mailed invitations and a slick brochure touting the success of last year’s fair and promoting Los Angeles as a booming art center to more than 600 galleries, Angel said. The brochure might be considered a bit misleading: The cover features a graphic image of soaring palm trees along a boardwalk (can the beach be far away?) and some of the facts aren’t accurate. We’re told, for example, that the J. Paul Getty Trust “has reached $2.9 million” when the market value is actually $3 billion and that “Norton Simon is making a $750-million gift of his art to UCLA” when that deal was called off more than a year ago, but their pitch seems to be working. Early responses indicate that there will be about 400 applications for the 170 available spaces, Angel said.

High on the list of good news for 1989 is that the highly respected James Corcoran Gallery in Santa Monica will participate in the fair for the first time. So will Max Protetch Gallery of New York. Leo Castelli, the grand old man of New York dealers who joined the Los Angeles fair last year, will return, as will the Anthony d’Offay Gallery, one of London’s premier showcases.

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Marlborough Gallery of New York is back after a year’s absence and plans to occupy the fair’s largest space, a 1,500-square-foot booth near the entrance. Los Angeles dealers L.A. Louver, Margo Leavin and Karl Bornstein will each take 1,200-square-foot spaces. “We’re getting down to who will sit by whom at the party,” said Scheips, who is mapping out the booth assignments.

Booth costs are up from $23.50 per square foot to $25 per square foot. Unlike some earlier fairs, when dealers paid separate charges for lights and furnishings, this year’s fee is all-inclusive. Booths range in size from 200 to 1,500 square feet and average around 500 square feet, at a cost of $12,500.

Many members of Los Angeles’ cultural community are supporting the fair, according to Angel. Television producer and collector Douglas Cramer has agreed to chair the gala, a benefit preview on Dec. 6. Corporate executive and collector Eli Broad will head the ART/LA89 advisory board, which includes about 100 artists, collectors, museum administrators and philanthropists. Los Angeles artist Alexis Smith is designing the poster for the 1989 fair.

This year’s event will not include a museum-style exhibition, such as the “East Meets West” show last year. Instead, the fair will beef up its educational program of lectures and symposia, and arrange some of the booths around thematic hubs such as photography and architecture, Scheips said.

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With four months to go, the fair is shaping up nicely, according to the event’s optimistic salesmen. But challenges remain. “We have to make the gala as exceptional as possible, attract the best quality galleries and get the word out that this will be the social event of the season,” Angel said.

COLLABORATION: Santa Barbara artists Julia Ford and Colin Gray, who are married to each other but generally work independently, have collaborated to produce a show called “Obstacles” at the Santa Barbara Contemporary Arts Forum. The “obstacles” they refer to are not the artworks in the exhibition but “hurdles of collaborating,” the artists say in a prepared statement.

The couple appears to have cleared these hurdles, for the show opened on schedule. To viewers’ surprise, the result bears little resemble to Ford’s usual fiber work or Gray’s whimsical wood sculpture. Instead, the two materials are combined in a pair of massive canvas-covered wood structures that look rather like giant rabbits’ heads. Long, pointed “ears” arch out of the sides of one of the bulbous sculptures and curve over the “head” of the other.

The odd pair of sculptures sit facing each other on the floor of the dimly lighted gallery, looking rather like friendly monsters. Laboriously covered with patchwork canvas and dotted with remnants of carpenters’ aprons, they also remind viewers of the artists’ interest in simple materials and meticulous craftsmanship.

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Both artists are British, and they were educated in Britain and the United States. Ford is a 1987 graduate of Kansas University at Lawrence. Gray is a 1983 graduate of UC Santa Barbara and currently teaches at the university’s College of Creative Studies.

The Forum is open Tuesday-Saturday, noon-5 p.m. The exhibition continues through Aug. 12.

FEITELSON FOUNDATION: Sculptor Ann Takayoshi Page has received a $10,000 grant from the Lorser Feitelson and Helen Lundeberg Feitelson Arts Foundation. Under terms of the foundation, an established artist chooses and works with an emerging artist, who also receives $10,000 during a year-long apprenticeship. Artists who wish to work with Page are invited to apply for the apprentice grant. Applications should include slides of the artist’s work, a resume and a brief statement of why the artist wants to work with Page. These materials should be sent with self-addressed, stamped envelopes to Ann Takayoshi Page, P.O. Box 15285, Los Angeles, Calif., 90015. The deadline is Sept. 1.

UPCOMING AT THE GETTY: “15th- and 16th-Century Italian Drawings” is the latest in a series of exhibitions of master drawings from the J. Paul Getty Museum’s rapidly growing permanent collection. The show of Renaissance and Mannerist works opens Aug. 8 and runs through Oct. 22.

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“Study of Four Saints,” a rare drawing by Andres Mantegna, was done as a study for one panel of his altarpiece at the church of San Zeno in Verona. Another highlight among the Renaissance pieces is Leonardo da Vinci’s “Caricature of a Man With Bushy Hair,” one of a series of drawings that exaggerate physical features to heighten expressive qualities.

Among works from the Roman school are drawings by Raphael and his contemporaries. Raphael’s pen and ink “Studies for the ‘Disputa’ ” include sketches for a figure in his frescos at the Vatican. Mannerist works by Andrea del Sarto, Jacopo Pontormo and Agnolo Bronzino will also be on view.

To arrange free parking at the Getty, call (213) 458-2003.


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