SANTA MONICA — Saatchi Art’s the Other Art Fair, now in its second year, is taking place at the Barker Hangar this weekend. Not to be confused with Saatchi Gallery in London, Saatchi Art is an online marketplace that helps independent artists sell directly to art collectors without brokering through a gallery. In the spirit of disrupting the art market’s hierarchy, the Los Angeles company puts a bit of a spin on the art fair model. Unlike other fairs that line the hangar with blue chip galleries, for a 15% commission, the Other Art Fair gives its booths directly to emerging artists and no galleries are present. Visitors can expect to see over 100 miniature solo exhibitions.
Catering to “a new generation of art buyers,” who seem to be cash-strapped millennials with refined taste, most of the artwork sells for under $1,000. It’s a bargain for collectors, who normally drop 10 times that amount for rising stars in the art market. The fair also makes a point to let collectors leave with their new pieces of art the same day as their purchase.
The artists on view, which were hand-selected from a committee that included Rebecca Wilson, chief curator at Saatchi Art, and Laura Hyatt, executive director at LA’s very own Los Angeles Nomadic Division (LAND,) are a diverse, international group. Though California is well represented, you can take home pieces from artists based in Tokyo, Mexico, Ukraine, and South Africa. Sometimes the art seems borderless; Ruth Mulvie, a UK-based painter, depicts colorful Palm Springs-inspired pool parties, while Gabriel Schama and Chandna Agarwal, Oakland-based woodworkers, laser cut intricate mandalas.
While weaving through the aisles at the Other Art Fair, I noted that painting is overwhelmingly the main media for sale. There are artists using every square inch of wall space, with stacks of canvasses on hand to replace any gaps that appear when their work exchanges hands. With most artists manning their own booths, you can conveniently learn more about their process and inspiration without the filtered lens of a curatorial statement. They’re eager to talk about their work without diving too deep into artspeak, but still have their artist statements on hand if you’re hungry for it.
Among the highlights is the onsite bar (sponsored by Bombay Sapphire Gin) where Adi Goodrich, a set designer, installed three-dimensional wall sculptures of solid geometric shapes and bold colors. Juana Cespdes from Barcelona, Spain, has a delicate series of watercolors on white Japanese paper depicting small people in grids and spirals, creating scenes that evoke the nostalgic joy of a winter wonderland. On the other end of the hangar, Xan Padron stitches together photographs of people walking past interesting building facades, creating continuous grids of subjects that appear like still frames in an Eadweard Muybridge contact sheet.
In addition to the artists’ stalls, there are a few specially curated exhibits. One Small Step, featuring street artists like Mr. Brainwash and RYCA, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the moon landing with painted astronaut helmets. And Dan Hillier’s The Earth Cube, an enclosed installation one enters through a black curtain, provides a respite from the crowds with a quiet, candle-lit space.
Overall, there were a few trends that stood out to me, which may catch a budding collector’s eye: small people on stark white backgrounds, the continued reign of millennial pink, bright and bold Hockney-like canvases depicting California life, homages to pop music, and the occasional allusion to a Basquiat crown. Here’s a snapshot of what to expect this weekend:
The Other Art Fair continues at the Barker Hangar (3021 Airport Ave, Santa Monica) through September 8.
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