Next weekend, almost 80 galleries will be participating in the inaugural Gallery Weekend Los Angeles, a five-day series of performances, talks, and exhibitions taking place throughout the city. Meant to celebrate the experience of seeing art in-person, the event is organized by Gallery Association Los Angeles (GALA), a collection of Los Angeles-based galleries that banded together last year during the early days of the pandemic to provide an online showcase for the city’s vibrant art scene. The result was GalleryPlatform.LA, a site that features rotating viewing rooms as well as editorial content, offering a way to connect with collectors, curators, and art lovers at a time when physical art spaces had to remain closed.

Now that restrictions are loosening somewhat, GALA has organized its first in-person event, billed as the first in an annual summer tradition highlighting the breadth of LA’s rapidly expanding gallery sphere.

“Gallery Weekend was initiated to reconnect art audiences with galleries and their in-person programming, so we hope there is a sense amongst visitors and locals that the core life of a gallery is in the exhibitions they stage and all the other activity runs off of this,” Olivia Barrett, founding director and owner of Château Shatto told Hyperallergic via email.

Participating galleries include long-time LA institutions like LA Louver and Regen Projects, more recently arrived international powerhouses Hauser & Wirth and Sprüth Magers, alongside a crop of smaller homegrown spaces such as Commonwealth & Council, Wilding Cran, Parker Gallery, Residency, and Band of Vices. A selection of nonprofit and alternative spaces will also take part including 18th Street Arts Center, LAXART, Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions, Human Resources, and the Canary Test.

To better manage LA’s sprawling terrain, the organizers have divided the city into four regions: West, North, Central, and East. Although galleries will be open throughout the event, four “community days” will each feature programming and extended hours in a different area, beginning with the Westside on Wednesday, July 28, and moving eastward to conclude on Saturday, July 31.

Exhibition highlights include:

  • Joel Dean’s mystical, dream-like canvases at Bel Ami. Each work features a large painted letter around which the artist creates fantastical scenes, peopled by a bizarre cast of characters recalling Bosch and Ensor.
  • Australian painter Helen Johnson’s beguiling post-modern pastiches at Château Shatto.
  • Nuestrxs Putxs at Chinatown mainstay Human Resources, a transgressive celebration of the divine feminine featuring Isabelle Albuquerque, Bárbara Sánchez-Kane, and Frieda Toranzo Jaeger.
  • Bridget Mullen’s hallucinatory Birthday series at Shulamit Nazarian features paintings depicting the act of birth that range from the abstract to the cartoonish, with eyeballs, dogs’ wagging tongues, and sensuous bodily shapes emerging from the rorschach-like forms.
  • A stunning, materially rich, career-spanning exhibition of work by Nari Ward at Jeffrey Deitch, the artist’s first in LA.
Bridget Mullen, “Birthday Series #9” (2021), Flashe on linen, 12 x 9 in. (Courtesy of the artist and Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles.)

Programming highlights include:

  • A conversation between artist Raul Guerrero and Pilar Tompkins Rivas, chief curator and deputy director of curatorial and collections at the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, on July 30 at 5pm at David Kordansky Gallery. The two will discuss Guerrero’s current show at Kordansky, Fata Morgana, which explores the histories and fictions embedded in specific locations such as the Black Hills of South Dakota or contemporary Los Angeles, and how these relate to the artist’s own Mestizo ancestry.
  • Various Small Fires and artist Sean Raspet will throw a plant sale with coffee and donuts on July 31 from 10am to 1pm in conjunction with his exhibition featuring new plant varieties mutated via radiation.
  • Curators Mika Yoshitake and Kris Kuramitsu will discuss “Borders and Identity” at Blum & Poe on July 31 at 2pm in conjunction with Japanese artist Yukinori Yanagi’s first major US retrospective featuring work that confronts nationalism, war, and incarceration with technical precision and dark humor.
  • Regen Projects and Phaidon Press will host a book release for photographer Catherine Opie at the artist’s studio on July 31 at 5pm.

LA’s oldest and newest art fairs, the LA Art show and Felix respectively, will also be taking place during the same time, offering a critical mass of in-person art events showcasing both Angeleno artists and art spaces. “I hope that Gallery Weekend helps visitors and locals appreciate that Los Angeles is not just an arbitrary backdrop for our programs,” Barrett said. “Our galleries are shaped by the forces that are specific to this city, both the encouraging conditions here in LA and the more challenging ones.”

Matt Stromberg

Matt Stromberg is a freelance visual arts writer based in Los Angeles. In addition to Hyperallergic, he has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, CARLA, Apollo, ARTNews, and other publications.