“We had no idea how popular the fair would be,” writes organizer AA Bronson after the whirlwind had passed. “Over 15,000 people came through the fair in its three days, and there were smiling faces everywhere. The enormous range of publishing brings joy to book lovers, I don’t know how else to put it.”
A quick chat with the greeter at the LA Art Book Fair confirms Bronson’s assessment. “I don’t think anyone had any idea it would be this popular,” she says.
I stopped by the MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary space on its last day and the people kept on coming. Cyclists and skateboarders jostled for space alongside tote-wearing attendees, well prepared to take home some choice finds at the fair. The air was warm from all the bodies passing by, despite the garage doors at the Geffen being open. The extra heat didn’t deter browsers however and we all still milled around the booths.
Despite living in Los Angeles, I confess to not having my radar tuned into small publishing. This opened my eyes. Over 200 publishers were in attendance all bringing their unique finds to the table. Present of course are the bigwigs in art publishing: the Gagosian presented their Mike Kelley tribute, an assemblage of books relating to the artist including “A UFO Hunter’s Guide” and “Selected Works from the Detroit Institute of Arts”; the LA MOCA booth sweetened their membership deal by offering an eye-catching Ed Ruscha “Make New History” art object; and Artbook D.A.P. offered their endless variety of art and photography books, but those that caught my eye were the publishers that worked at the fringes of the scene.
Like an independent country, The Thing Quarterly booth was decked out in flags. Headquartered out of San Francisco, they showed off their special fusion of print and art objects. Like a magazine but in object form, The Thing Quarterly makes for a good read and good addition to one’s home. A favorite is Dave Egger’s Shower Curtain, which decorates your home and literally adds a voice to your décor by publishing the shower’s monologue onto the curtain “page.”
While wandering the maze, I also found Mommy started by Susan Silas and Chrysanne Stathacos. Instead of casting their nets widely, the two artists have chosen to focus their efforts bringing to light the works of women artists as they progress through the life. Being female, I could relate to the impetus and I’ve always wondered, how do these artists cope with the major life changes as well as unique social pressures that being a women puts upon them.
Siglio Press builds on that feminine point of view with their handsome box set “It’s Almost That.” Encapsulated in a wood-hinged box, the ten saddle-stitched booklets examine the nude film (by Fiona Banner), the taxonomy of psychics’ advertisements (by Susan Hiller), and a number of other curiosities created by women artist writers.
Walking through the endless selection, I was struck by the flexibility of the printed medium. We’ve always been conditioned to view books as hardbound covers and justified text, but the fair exposed the many ways ink on paper can come to life. Whether it’s a saddle-stitched booklet, a hardbound cover, an accordion book or a six-pound book made of stiff board pages (such as Dash Snow’s “Movie List” presented by Andrew Roth Gallery)
Noah Lyon’s Ronald McHitler certainly startled me and also gave me my mind something to chew on afterward. Right across from him, Boo-Hooray’s Larry Clark installation seemed positively voyeuristic with rows of shirts, worn skateboards (complete with scuffed decks) and, of course, risqué photographs. Let’s just say I haven’t seen so many genitalia in print for quite some time.
The LA Art Book Fair was an overwhelmingly strong counter-argument against the print medium’s death. If anything, it proves that no matter how digital our lives may become, we’ll all still be grasping for something material to memorialize it. To that end, both Bronson and I are hoping for many happy returns, “If the response from the public was any indication, we will return! Perhaps it takes a New Yorker to create a place where the many layers of Angelino culture can meet and come together.”
The close, careful, and subtle observation I found this year is representative of precisely why I continue to gravitate to this fair.
How do we counter stereotypes about Black mothers, while stressing the importance of memory, determination, love, and corporeality?
An expansive exhibition on Adeliza McHugh’s influential Candy Store Gallery celebrates the whimsical, irreverent aesthetic that put California’s Sacramento Valley on the art-historical map.
With two stellar retrospectives, one time-based installation, and several commissions by local artists, the Phillips Collection has dedicated its galleries to highlighting abstract work by Black artists.
As we begin a new year, a small moment on Queer Eye makes me think about the profound effect our stories can have on each other.
Each fellow in this 10-month intensive in New Haven, Connecticut, will receive studio or office space, subsidized housing, and a generous stipend.
Some have criticized the racist monument’s planned relocation to North Dakota, near land seized from Indigenous people.
A group called the Boriken Libertarian Forces toppled the monument hours before King Felipe VI of Spain’s visit.
Graduate students in the University of Denver’s Emergent Digital Practices program work on research with faculty who are engaged directly with their communities, both online and off.
Still resonating with relevance, William Gropper’s incisive cartoons in defense of the WPA go on auction at New York’s Swann Galleries together with other works by celebrated WPA artists.
Archeologists excavating in Nijmegen, the Netherland’s oldest city, found the bowl in pristine condition.
A pioneer of street photography, Levitt worked in the most crowded and poorest neighborhoods of New York searching for the theater of everyday life.