Photo Essays

In SoCal, Artists Foster Roving, Alternative Spaces in Face of Change

Through its gathering of alternative spaces and roving exhibitions, Other Places Art Fair offers insight into how artists adapt to new conditions, whether it be by flat file, pool, or truck.

Barker Hanger (all photos by the author for Hyperallergic)

LOS ANGELES —  This past weekend the Angels Gate Cultural Center in San Pedro played host to Other Places Art Fair, which claims to represent “the growing movement of hard to define art project spaces.” The fair delivered on its promise, showcasing a truly eclectic mix of art exhibitions and experiences often bypassed by the more commercial interests of traditional art fairs.

At the Barker Hanger, a roving project space by artist Hayley Barker, fair-goers rummaged through hundreds of artists’ drawings organized in files and stacked atop a tarp painted by Barker herself. Nearby, at the “Be Still Life Drawing Session,” viewers could take time out from the fair to draw in front of a beautifully constructed still life with basic materials provided. The workshop, organized by artists Anna Breininger and Kristin Cammermeyer, wanted to foster “focused attention and meaningful connection.”

Be Still Life Drawing Sessions

Halfway across the fair, Public Pool gallery, a “floating gallery in the San Fernando valley” known for its exhibitions in and around a residential pool, hosted a hauntingly listless computer-narrated video by Michael Becker in a small inflatable boat parked on land, bringing their pool toys ashore for the day. Other venues decided to play with nuances of the existing architecture, such as Hunter Shaw Fine Art’s group painting exhibition, which included works hung within a cave-like concrete structure carved into the grounds’ landscape.

Public Pool
Nina Sarnelle at Elevator Mondays

Other spaces arrived in San Pedro unchanged by the surroundings — Gas gallery, for instance, located in a converted step truck, is mobile by nature. Currently on view is Common Survival, curated by the Institute of Queer Ecology, which “aims to nurture a new environmental paradigm based on the concepts of interconnectivity and inseparability.” Sitting in the gallery, discussing related topics with a group of intergenerational women on benches lining both sides of the gallery, this aim felt particularly suited to the small space, in which our bodies felt close and linked.

Common Survival at Gas

The roving and easily mobile nature of many of these spaces is almost certainly related to Southern California’s housing affordability crisis. Once considered a viable alternative to the cutthroat attitude of New York City, Los Angeles is now an art market force of its own, and an increasingly tenuous and competitive homestead. Through its gathering of alternative spaces and roving exhibitions, Other Places Art Fair offers insight into how artists adapt to new conditions, whether it be by flat file, pool, or truck. While the project is optimistic in many ways, the question of how long we can adapt before breaking looms large in the background, and is perhaps best stated in the Institute of Queer Ecology’s mission statement, which asks simply at its end, “How Do We Survive?”

Pretend Gallery
Lani Trock at O’ Project Space
Collection Connection

The Other Places Art Fair took place at Battery Leary-Merriam / Angels Gate Park (3601 S Gaffey St, San Pedro, California) March 16–17.

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