Photo LA- A Few Truffles in the Miasma.
Art Fairs can be grind. I’ve worked them from the vantage point of the dealer, showing and selling prints for 8 hours straight. I’ve worked them from the vantage point of an exhibiting artist. And then I’ve “worked” them as a passionate and undauntable visual consumer. To winnow the wheat from the chaff is made only a tad easier by the concentration of a single venue. But then, the walk in Chelsea or the drive in LA actually provides a moment of visual peace between art encounters. Six of one, half dozen of another.
Photo LA, in its 20th Anniversary rendition, is currently at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium and runs through Monday. The fair looks good, well laid out, well lighted and user-friendly. The art on display runs the gambit from sublime to ridiculous, but this can be said of any fair, of any caliber. But we’re in the business of TruffleHunting, so here then a few notable standouts:
A new discovery for me was Annie Seaton, shown at DNJ Gallery which recently moved to Bergamont station. Cutout surfers from one photograph reappear on a facsimile painted ground of another. The paradigm is elegant and well executed. Modestly scaled and intelligent, Ms. Seaton has managed to deface in order to recreate.
Harry Callahan is and has been one of my favorite artists for many moons. Tom Gitterman is showing a handsome image of Elenor, the artist’s wife, muse and subject throughout his career. Aside for my personal love for the silhouette, the composition is divine and bold. It veers into abstraction and then gently manages to reassert itself into a portrait. The image is both intimate and veiled and thus divinely mysterious.
Photography as journalistic tool and witness has always been important. There’s no greater picture in this genre at the fair than this marvelous campaign shot of Bobby Kennedy riding in a convertible in Indianapolis in 1968. Bobby is riding with the Fearsome Foursome and Prizefighter Tony Zale. The image is by Bill Eppridge and can be seen at Monroe Gallery of Photography
Another personal favorite in the history of Photography is Robert Heineken. A conceptual artist wielding the medium of photography in the 70’s and 80’s, Heineken was deeply ahead of his time. The dime a dozen MFA grads that are pumped out of Academic institutions at a dizzying rate only wish they could have his wit and charm and intelligence. At Barry Singer there are two excellent examples of his work. Polaroid photograms of art school lunches. Items from a salad bar and a neatly dissected submarine sandwich act as subject matter. Original, funny with a soupcon of fuck you make the result a perfect blend of commentary and art. Further examples of Heineken’s Recto/Verso series can be seen at Stephen Daiter‘s booth from Chicago.
At Light Work, one of the most successful and enduring Non-for-profit organizations in the nation it must be said, there’s a great print by David Graham that ominously and wittily sums up the state of our financial landscape. Billboards are a deeply American phenomenon but it may not get any more perfectly American than this. The booth is filled with remarkable examples of great artists, all at reasonable prices, each one donated in support of the ambitious programming.
Lastly I will leave you a triptych by the irascible Wegee at Louis Klaitman & Robert Tat Gallery . Yes, I say, a three-ring circus should be a triptych. Of course! The middle image may just be the world’s most perfect double exposure with the observed and the observers fusing into a single image.
I will be giving tours to the VIP guests of the fair on Saturday and Sunday at 12, 2 and 4pm. Come out and sign up and join the dialogue.
Did you see the fair? Leave your thoughts in the comments and let me know the Truffles you found!
-Mario M. Muller, Los Angeles