Hundreds of art books, zines, catalogs, one-of-a-kind artist books and out-of-print rarities will be on view starting Thursday at the L.A. Art Book Fair, which promises to be the biggest edition of the fair since it launched in 2013. Last year’s fair drew more than 25,000 visitors over 3 1/2 days. This year, says organizer Shannon Michael Cane, upward of 30,000 attendees are expected.
The book fair, which is organized by the New York-based nonprofit Printed Matter, will feature 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.
Culture stalwarts such as Artbook/D.A.P., Gingko Press, Semiotext(e), X-Tra and Siglio Press will all be in attendance. But there will be countless other exhibitors too, from large museums to small alt culture outfits — all of it too much to take in during a single visit.
Here are five booths not to miss:
1. 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.
2. Family Bookstore
This popular Fairfax District bookshop will be featuring an array of goods, including Matthew Thurber’s humorous “Art Comic,” which chronicles the scene-y insanity of the art world, as well as animator Ben Jones and photographer Michael Schmelling’s collaborative image book, “Lookbook 2.” But most enticing will be the recently released title “Panther’s Collection,” from Rollo Press, which gathers the starkly graphic flyers designed by Jaime Ruelas for dance parties in Mexico in the 1980s, with texts by David Jacob Kramer. The Wire, a British music mag, offers an excellent online slideshow in case you’d like an advance peek.
3. Maricon Collective
The four-man art group from L.A.'s Eastside (LA Weekly has a good history of the group) is reissuing two editions of Chicano artist Joey Terrill’s late-1970s queer zine, “Homeboy Beautiful” — in the process, capturing an obscure piece of Los Angeles history. 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.
4. 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 book fair 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.
5. 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 (for whom she left her husband). 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. But whatever you do, don’t miss the related exhibition, organized by Printed Matter, which will showcase many of Iannone’s original works.
The L.A. Art Book Fair will be held 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 p.m. to 9 p.m. with musical performances by No Age and Prince Rama. Admission for the preview is $10 (which can be purchased online). Other days are free and open to the general public. The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA, 152 North Central Ave., downtown Los Angeles, laartbookfair.net.