Monday, February 2

Los Angeles Art Book Fair 2015

For the third year in a row, thousands of Los Angelinos flocked to the Los Angeles Art Book Fair, held at MOCA's Geffen Contemporary Building. The range of exhibits and publishers was overwhelming, as was the flow of people, meandering through the narrow isles between tables. While it was frustrating in terms of seeing exhibits in their entirety, this is a positive sign. In a predominantly digital age, it is uplifting to know that a book fair can draw such a large crowd.

While most booths had traditional, hard cover, bound and glossy, art books, the trend throughout the fair was the zine. A zine is a small, self published book, usually made using a photo copier. Almost every booth was littered with them, ranging in price from $1 to $25, and by the end of the fair they were being given away. I went home with two free zines from artists liquidating their stock. If you are abundantly interested in the world of zines, there is an upcoming LA Zine Fest on February 15th.

One of the more interesting zines I was given was created by Nick Kline; it is a simple fold open series of photographs from the construction of the UNTITLED Art Fair tent. Created as a reference to Sol Lewitt's Photo Grids (1977), which had been done as a response to the work of Eadweard Muybridge, the photos capture the foundation of an art fair being constructed. 

There were a few paintings, but primarily, the exhibited art was photographic. One of my favorite displays was a series of photos called California Chiaroscuro, done by artist and music producer Spot. His images capture California youth culture and during the 1970s and 1980s, composed in stark black and white.

This video is an interview with him, by LA Weekly, about his book.

Ceramics made occasional appearances at booths, tucked in amongst the publications, but I was disappointed in the lack of knowledge from the presenters. I saw work from Ben Medansky, who does beautifully simple functional ware, with clean lines and a lovely speckled clay body. However, when I asked the table presenting his work about it, they admitted that they really had no knowledge about his process or intention. At another table there were sculptural vases that also lacked a solid explanation, but then again, this was a book fair not a ceramics show.

My favorite corner of the book fair featured both The Guerrilla Girls booth and a Dorothy Lannone exhibit. Lannone's brightly colored work is an aesthetic blend of Japanese block prints, Eastern religious motifs, and boldly emphasizes female sensuality. The subject matter is intriguing because of how she retells well known myths in order to convey her personal, often sexually explicit, folklore.  Examples of her work can be seen here

My final moment of excitement was the Guerilla Girls booth; it was a little flashback to my days as an Art History student at Chapman University, studying gender and art with Wendy Salmond. My discussion with the women running the booth was fantastic, and I bought a shirt to commemorate the occasion.

Overall, the Los Angeles Art Book Fair is a positive event, and it seems to be gaining in popularity. However, if crowds are not your thing you may want to stay home, or visit the Japanese museum next door.

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