In case you hadn’t noticed, ’tis the season for art book and zine fairs in Los Angeles. Many of the fairs originally materialized as satellite fairs for Printed Matter’s Los Angeles Art Book Fair, but LAABF was cancelled earlier this year. A number of fairs were organized after the cancellation, to fill the vacuum.
Satellite fairs have become a widespread phenomenon, some feeding off the fumes of larger fairs, others aggressively attempting to “find a solution to these narrow, persistent problems of fairs.” Satellite fairs often start as intentionally scrappy events in the face of a bloated market that exhibitors, gallerists, collectors, and cultural rubberneckers can’t seem to resist.
The art book and zine fair scene seems slightly different. As Luca Antonucci of Colpa Press said at the 2016 San Francisco Art Book Fair, which he helped found, art book and zine fairs are like an education in buying art. “People who buy art books grow into people who buy art,” he said. Yet even as gateway drugs to the world of art, such fairs are less elitist and intimidating than big-time, “real” art fairs — perhaps because publishers aren’t in it for the paycheck.
The Printed Matter LAABF, with its historical attendance in the high 30 thousands, might have created its own gravity for satellite zine, book, and stuff fairs. But its cancellation led to something kind of beautiful. There seems to have been a collective freak-out among the art book and zine community — so now the satellites are coming anyway. There’s the possibility that they can co-exist without a sense of competition, spread out over the course of a few months, to make fair fatigue as rare as a fair without a booze sponsor. Here’s our list of fairs to look out for.
Los Angeles Zine and Art Book Bazaar
This weekend is the new Los Angeles Zine and Art Book Bazaar, or LAZAAB, at MaRS Gallery, where you’ll find art books, zines, and merchandise by independent artists and musicians. But you can also have your astrological chart drawn up by “gifted psychics, card readers, and star gazers,” witness a fire performance, or hear Durk Dehner, president and co-founder of the Tom of Finland Foundation, give a talk on “toxic masculinity.” There will be plenty of celebrating in the evenings — the Friday night opening party is hosted by Pinups Magazine and Silverlake’s Akbar, and Saturday is the Bazaar’s Bizarre Bash at neighboring warehouse space, which will feature DJs, musicians, puppets, and dancing. LAZAABB touts itself as having risen from the “historical esoteric and queer communities distinctly cultivated by Los Angeles,” and they are ready to party.
When: Friday, March 16 to Sunday, March 18 (with special events listed at the LAZAABB website)
Where: MaRS Gallery (649 S. Anderson Street, Los Angeles) and Creatington (653 S. Anderson Street, Los Angeles)
The Independent Art Book Fair
The Independent Art Book Fair has happened twice in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, during the weekends of the New York Art Book Fair. “I don’t really use the term satellite, but if the shoe fits, cool,” says founder Karen Schaupeter, who has also been an exhibitor herself at the Printed Matter New York and Los Angeles Art Book Fairs, as well as NADA in New York. “I wanted to do something different to merge Art and Books, and create a context for the new narrative in artistic practice and publishing,” she adds. The fair was founded with accessibility in mind for both exhibitors and visitors — a place where she could bring together the art and book worlds for publishers, artists, and bookmakers to channel their art to the public. This is the fair’s first year in Los Angeles.
When: Friday, April 6, 11am–7pm; Saturday, April 7, 11am–7pm; Sunday April 8, 11am–6pm
Where: 939 Studios (939 Maple Avenue, Los Angeles, California)
The SFV Art Bookfair
The SFV Art Bookfair deliberately lifts Los Angeles’s cultural nose toward the San Fernando Valley. This fair is an independent publisher and artist fair, meant to celebrate the neighborhoods north of the 101 highway, a part of the art community in greater Los Angeles that the organizers feel is unfairly overlooked. Now in its second year, the fair is soliciting independent publishers and San Fernando Valley artists (deadline March 24) to participate and will feature discussions, performance, and presentations during the one-day event in Van Nuys.
When: April 21, 12–7pm
Where: Naturál Gallery (15168 Raymer Street, Van Nuys)
Acid-Free Los Angeles Art Book Market
As a quick response to the vacuum created by the cancellation of Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair, publisher and curator Jeff Khonsary and some of the original organizers of the Acid-Free Los Angeles Art Book Market asked Printed Matter whether they could help. As Khonsary puts it, they felt the need to “support this thing that had supported us as independent publishers in such a symbiotic relationship.” When the original fair proved impossible, Khonsary began planning a new fair, with Printed Matter’s blessing. The organizing committee promptly blossomed to over 20 people, all California-based independent publishers, arts organizations, and art galleries. Acid-free has expanded beyond California and will include several transnational and international exhibitors, such as Kodoji Press (Switzerland) and Triangle Books (Belgium) as well as special programming, opening parties, and after-parties.
When: Friday, May 4, 6–9pm; Saturday, 11am–7pm; Sunday, 11am–7pm
Where: Blum & Poe (2727 South La Cienega Boulevard, Culver City)
LA Pages announced itself as a one-time event organized by 8ball Community, a collective known for zine fairs in Brooklyn and San Francisco since 2012: Ooga Booga, and Bunny Jr. Tapes. According to Jezenia Romero of Bunny Jr. Tapes, the fair will “celebrate the west coast independent publishing and art books community in an all inclusive non-commercial way. It will be entirely run by volunteers, music and food by local Los Angeles vendors, no brand sponsorships, and drop off tables free of commissions run by us.” Like Acid-free, but from an East Coast perspective, the fair grew out of discussion between the 8ball community and Printed Matter, as well as an outpouring of support from friends of the late Shannon Michael Cane, who was integral to Printed Matter fairs. But it’s “not a fair to replace the LAABF,” as Romero states in her Instagram post about LA Pages. “Shannon was a dedicated organizer and huge supporter of the publishing community, and his devotion inspired us to keep his hard work and legacy alive.”
When: May 18–20
LA Zine Fest
Now in its seventh year, the LA Zine Fest will take place this year in Pasadena. Notably nomadic across this center-less cultural mish-mash called Los Angeles, the zines-only fest has always set itself apart from standard art book fairs, and is typically scheduled weeks away from Printed Matter’s Los Angeles fairs. Previous iterations have taken place at the Last Bookstore in downtown Los Angeles, the Ukrainian Cultural Center just north of Koreatown, and the Helms Bakery District in Culver City. Founded “to provide a place for zinesters and self-publishers to come together and share their creations with each other and the people of Los Angeles,” the LA Zine Fest aims to stay financially accessible to all exhibitors who fit the bill. Participants must exhibit at least 80% “zines, or other DIY, independently produced publications.”
When: Sunday, May 27, 11am–6pm
Where: The Conference Center at the Pasadena Convention Center (300 East Green Street, Pasadena)