The LA Art Show has been running continuously for decades. Their January 2020 edition was one of the last big events of the Avant Times, if we had known it at the time. They pushed the 2021 edition back to July, resisting the Delta variant with a smaller footprint and elaborate security protocols. Two years later, the little big show that could return to its January roots – with a thoughtful covid safety plan including proof of vaccination and mask wear, and a future-oriented curatorial vision engaging with the threat of climate change and the promise of the metaverse.
One of the unexpected highlights of the summer 2021 rogue edition was the enthusiasm for digital and crypto art – NFTS and more – as galleries and independent projects designed mesmerizing and photogenic vessels. based on screens and sculptures to present disembodied works. Visitors have explored these projects with their aura of novelty and the spiciness of luminosity and movement on a larger scale reminiscent of contemporary painting. Obviously, there will be plenty more this time around, as several exhibitors explore the commonalities and contrasts between the new media frontier and the traditional art space.
Vellum LA – who led the charge for the previous edition in Brave New World – is back, this time shutting down its recently opened brick-and-mortar space in West Hollywood. Elsewhere is a negative mirror is curated by cryptoart impresarios Jesse Damiani and Sinziana Velicescu, and features 10 artists exploring architectural motifs – and whether there are rules for building a place – in the new digital universes being built. Exhibition of works by Saks Afridi, Kirk Finkel (untitled, xyz), Vince Fraser, Mari K, Petecia LeFawnhawk, Nate Mohler, Sabrina Ratté, Nicolas Sassoon and Thato Tatai, Elsewhere is a negative mirror highlights the physical mutability of the future world by performing simultaneously as an exhibition fair in person and also in Vellum LA across town, as well as in an online auction with SuperRare.
Merry Karnowsky of KP Projects has been a destination for the avant-garde of contemporary figurative painting, embracing new trends in visual street culture, illustration, lowbrow, visionary and foreign voices for decades. Its program is known for featuring titans of narrative symbolism like painter and digital artist Johnny Rodriguez, aka KMNDZ, who, in partnership with LGND, will be the gallery’s first foray into the NFT space.
KMNDZ Little beasts engages the energy of hybridity in a series featuring a cohort of robots and animal characters. Manifested first in the form of hand-drawn multimedia works, before being transported into the NFT energy field of the blockchain, the recombinant creatures themselves speak of the quality of transcendence that propels the metaverse towards the before. Honoring the artist’s Latino roots in some aspects of their colorful magical auras while updating his favorite folk traditions in a post-Disney and post-digital myth, it’s only fair that the works themselves bridge the gap between l history and the future in terms of the history of art as well as materials.
In another part of the show, the ubiquitous themes of the environmental crisis also find avant-garde expression in the presentation of Arts Help by Conscious Crypto Creator: ICEBERGS. The Conscious Crypto Creator, aka CCC, is a platform dedicated to educating those who wish to enter the crypto space, offering free resources to those curious about NFT who also focus on the environmental impact of the sector. Their responsive article on the digitally driven site ICEBERGS highlights the energy-intensive problem of the blockchain through an interactive multimedia installation.
Environmental responsibility is also a major theme of this year’s DIVERSEartLA programming, as curator Marisa Caichiolo considers the power of art to influence change. Through eight participating interdisciplinary projects, thanks to both international venues (Czech Republic, Mexico (Guadalajara), Argentina, Spain and a few kilometers from the show (Skid Row, Torrance), speeches on climate change take place at a global and hyperlocal scale, showing how climate and economic justice are inextricably linked, the effects of drought in Jalisco and unhealthy heat in Skid Row, the dynamics of waste and recovery, melting ice, vectors of accelerated biological evolution and the scaffolding of the failed cultural and even architectural propaganda of society.
One of the highlights of the fair that has nothing to do with disaster or digitalia will be the first appearance of beloved Los Angeles family institution, Judson Studios, which makes the most magnificent stained glass windows and grooviest in the world for over 100 years. Their installation of major works by contemporary artists El Mac, James Jean, Shay Bredimus, Marco Zamora, Narcissus Quagliata, Alice Wang, Anne Elizabeth Sobieski, Indre Bilires, Reed Bradley, Sean Chao and Quentin Blackman show that he is indeed possible to innovate without losing sight of tradition.
Los Angeles Convention Center, South Hall, 1201 S. Figueroa, downtown; Opening night: Wednesday, January 19, 7 p.m. to 11 p.m., $ 250 (includes weekend pass and early access hours); Fair opening hours: Thursday-Saturday January 20-22, 12 pm-8pm; Sunday, January 23, noon-6 p.m., $ 30 / day; laartshow.com.