Welcome to Los Angeles Art Week, the most jam-packed stretch of the year in our city’s art world. February has long been associated with the LA Art Show, but when Frieze landed here five years ago, it heralded the explosion of back-to-back fairs, exhibitions, performances, and pop-ups. This year, five fairs take place simultaneously, and if that’s not enough art for you, other institutions have strategically timed their openings and public programs to coincide with them. (And if you’re not a Frieze VIP, snagging a free drink at one of these events will certainly make you feel like one.)
In our guide to LA Art Week, we’re bringing you all you need to know about the big fairs as well as all the art you can find in historic homes, at an airport, planted in a garden, spinning on a carousel, and even at a gravesite. Yes, you’ll have to cross the 405 after 3pm, but we promise it’ll be worth it.
Frieze Los Angeles
Frieze has taken her throne as queen of the art fairs, taking over the Santa Monica Airport from the now defunct fair Art Los Angeles Contemporary and filling the hangars with presentations by more than 120 galleries from across the globe. Frieze Projects, the non-commercial part of the fair, takes art outside of the booths with two programs: Now Playing, which remains on the airport campus, and Against the Edge, which will have you traversing the entire Westside.
Now Playing, curated by the Art Product Fund, will bring an artful twist to everyday LA sights, like traffic, construction, and street food. Some of the highlights include Ruben Ochoa’s Revolution Carts and Class: C Mobile Gallery, a collaboration between street vendors and the artist, who made custom graphics for their carts that will sell fresh fruit and tamales to Frieze guests; Alake Shilling teams up with the Los Angeles Football club for Buggy Ball, which will get you moving with scrimmage matches and soccer clinics; and Basil Kincaid’s “Dancing the Wind Walk,” an airplane wrapped in a quilt patched together from fabric Kincaid sourced in Ghana and St. Louis.
Offsite, Against the Edge, curated by Jay Ezra Nayssan and Del Vaz Projects, brings artworks to historic sites across the West Side. Beyond Baroque will present works by Tony Cokes in a building that formerly served as Venice City Hall; Moroccan-born, French artist Nicola L. sets up in the Thomas Mann House, where the Nobel Prize laureate lived during his exile from Nazi Germany; and Jonathan Hepfer, the artistic director of Monday Evening Concerts, will light up the Santa Monica pier’s merry-go-round building with “Action 3,” a musical tribute to the late curator Walter Hopps.
Frieze Los Angeles (frieze.com)
Santa Monica Airport, 3233 Donald Douglas Loop South, Santa Monica, California
Felix Art Fair
Think of the Felix as Frieze’s fun younger brother. This newer fair, founded in 2018 by Dean Valentine, Al Morán, and Mills Morán, takes over guest rooms in the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel so that you can experience each gallery’s offerings more intimately. The vibe is kind of like an off-the-record Oscars after-party celebration, but instead of cocaine, everyone is inhaling the beauty of fine art. Along the Roosevelt’s building and stunning, centralized pool, you can party with more than 60 galleries that tend to take themselves less seriously than Frieze’s blue-chip exhibitors.
Felix Art Fair (felixfair.com)
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, 7000 Hollywood Boulevard, Hollywood Heights, Los Angeles
The LA Art Show
The LA Art Show is the city’s oldest art fair, boasting a 20-year history, and this year it will take over the LA Convention Center with over 120 galleries representing 22 countries. The show emphasizes this international presence with the debut of a Japanese Pavilion that will join the longstanding European Pavilion. They’re also expecting their highest-ever representation of South Korean galleries.
Not to be missed is the Art Show’s non-commercial programming, DIVERSEartLA, curated by Marisa Caichiolo. This special segment interrogates climate change and water in Los Angeles, focusing on our long drought, water shortages, and how our city is adapting to these shortfalls. In addition to works on view by ecofeminist Judy Baca and Mexican photographer Alfredo De Stefano, Skid Row Cooling Resources and Homeless Health Care Los Angeles (HHCLA) will hold community dialogues to encourage environmental action.
The LA Art Show (laartshow.com)
LA Convention Center, West Hall, 1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles
Spring Break Art Show
This bi-coastal art fair is returning to Los Angeles for its fourth edition, setting up in a single warehouse, Skylight Culver City, about a 15-minute drive from Frieze. Working with the theme “NAKED LUNCH,” Spring Break sought works that channeled the Renaissance, a return to nature, humanism, and the pastoral — think of the nude woman smiling at us in Édouard Manet’s “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” (1862–63) — but also hedonism, illicit affairs, and sexual taboos. (For me, William Burroughs’s acid-fueled hallucinations come to mind.) Spring Break is promising work that’s more edgy, experimental, and provocative than what is shown at other fairs, and you’ll have to be there in person to see if it delivers.
Spring/Break Art Show (springbreakartshow.com)
Skylight Culver City, 5880 Adams Boulevard, Culver City
Photo Forward Los Angeles
This brand-new fair presented by the nonprofit Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles is entirely dedicated to “lens-based art” — from cutting-edge contemporary photography to vintage and classic prints. Entry to the inaugural show is completely free, with a slate of public and paid events including book signings, talks, and walk-throughs.
Photo Forward Los Angeles (photoforwardla.com)
Bergamot Station Arts Center, Danziger Gallery, Suite B1, 2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica
Paul McCarthy: WS White Snow
One of the most anticipated events during LA Art Week is the presentation of Paul McCarthy’s warehouse-sized fantasy forest, WS White Snow. The immersive space is McCarthy’s largest work to date and has been locked away in a warehouse since 2013. You can submit an RSVP to score a free ticket to the show using the link below, and if you snag a spot, you’ll wander through the woods, listening to the sounds emanating from a four-channel video projection, and eventually reach a scale replica of the artist’s childhood home. Though the experience sounds like a wholesome and magical walk through a fairy tale, McCarthy is known for sleaze and depravity. Prepare to have your love for Disney’s Snow White tainted.
Presented by Los Angeles Nomadic Division, The Box, and Hauser & Wirth (RSVP here)
Downtown LA; location disclosed with RSVP
Boil, Toil & Trouble
Another water-focused show comes in the form of Art in Common’s pop-up show Boil, Toil & Trouble. Water has the power to grant life, heal, and soothe, but in a drought-stricken city like Los Angeles, that source of magic is evaporating. Boil, Toil & Trouble includes works by more than 50 artists activating water through the lens of witchcraft and ritual, including new commissions by local artists like Oracle of Los Angeles and Amanda Yates Garcia as well as rarely exhibited pieces by stalwarts like Ana Mendieta. If you can’t fit in a visit during Frieze week, you can catch the show while attending a couple of free public programs. On Sunday, February 19, Metabolic Studio’s Lauren Bon and Emma Robbins will discuss Bon’s work Bending the River, and on February 26th, Debra Scacco will hold a conversation about her piece, “Headwaters.”
Art in Common (artincommon.art)
708 North Manhattan Place, Melrose Hill, Los Angeles
Gaetano Pesce: Dear Future
A number of galleries are presenting work in iconic residencies this week. The Future Perfect, dedicated to collectible design, recently moved into famed Hollywood executive Samuel Goldwyn’s mansion, and will be putting on LA’s first solo exhibition of the Italian artist, industrial designer, and architect Gaetano Pesce. In addition to viewing Pesce’s smiling resin lamp and voluptuous armchair, it’s well worth visiting the Goldwyn House just to take in its glorious hand-painted wallpaper and playful rattan sculptures. If you can’t take advantage of their rare public hours, you can visit the Future Perfect by appointment.
The Future Perfect (thefutureperfect.com)
Goldwyn House, 1800 Camino Palmero Street, Los Angeles
February 16–March 31
Tristan Unrau: The Earth, Not a Globe
For Unrau’s first solo exhibition in Los Angeles, he channels novelist Thomas Bernhard’s critiques of the bourgeois to make colorful, perverse paintings about arrogance and indulgence. Unrau flexes his own painterly abilities by switching up his style; one painting portrays a scenic pond in Central Park, rendered with realistic brush strokes, and another anamorphosis planets with cartoonish, heavy-lidded eyes. Unrau, self-aware of his uncommon ability to convincingly paint different movements, mocks himself by depicting a self-fellating subject. This is a must-see for anyone who likes to mix sentimentality with crudeness.
Sebastian Gladstone Hollywood (sebastiangladstone.com)
5523 Santa Monica Boulevard, Los Angeles
February 18–March 18
Hayley Barker: Laguna Castle
Barker is one of the newest artists on Night Gallery’s roster and is making her solo debut. She made the works on view while attending a residency at Laguna Castle, an apartment complex in Echo Park that was once home to community activist Isa-Kae Meksin. Inspired by the lush garden Meskin cultivated on her property, personal belongings left after Meskin’s passing, and photographs, Barker created a new series of paintings that memorialize Meskin’s quotidian habits.
Night Gallery (nightgallery.ca)
2276 East 16th Street, Los Angeles
February 18–March 18
David Horvitz’s 7th Ave Garden
Local artist David Horvitz has assembled a group exhibition in his garden, but the show requires audiences to do more than look at beautiful objects nestled in the dirt. The artists have paired their work with written prompts, which ask you to perform specific actions while interacting with each piece. Though details are vague, Horvitz has pulled together an eclectic roster of artists. There will be heavyweights like Yoko Ono and Joan Jonas, as well as emerging artists like Paige Emery, each trying to form a more intimate connection between man and soil.
Swiss Institute (swissinstitute.net)
1911 7th Avenue (cross street Crenshaw Boulevard), Arlington Heights, Los Angeles
Bonus: More Shows in Historic Houses
Other opportunities to enter cultural treasures include Entanglements: Louise Bonnet and Adam Silverman at the Hollyhock House, the first time an exhibition has been curated inside Frank Lloyd Wright’s Maya Revival Style masterpiece that sits atop Barnsdall Art Park; Del Vaz Projects, situated inside Shirley Temple’s childhood home, brings you Julie Becker (W)hole; Twentieth, the contemporary design gallery, just moved into a light-filled home in Hollywood Hills designed by renowned local architect Jeff Mills. They’re breaking in the space with Erode – Morph – Bloom, curated by Joakim Andreasson, a group show with A-List artists like Vanessa Beecroft and Kim Gordon who designed textile works with the Swedish rug company Henzel Studio.
Various locations/dates; see websites linked above for details
Pop-Ups and Events
#FriezeEve with Patrisse Cullors, Rita Nazareno, and Nissi Berry
In conjunction with their new exhibition North Star: Healing Generations, which focuses on the movement to free Black women from incarceration, Crenshaw Dairy Mart is holding a community conversation about abolition and healing. Co-Founder Patrisse Cullers and Creative Director of Zakarias 1925 Rita Nazareno will discuss how quilts were integrated into the Underground Railroad and how they continue to be a powerful image in the abolition movement today. Their fireside chat will be accompanied by a performance by Nissi Berry, a previously incarcerated Black poet. She’ll be reading selections from her book, Carrying Freedom, as well as poetry featured in the North Star show.
Crenshaw Dairy Mart (crenshawdairymart.com)
8629 Crenshaw Boulevard, Inglewood, Los Angeles
February 15, 6–9pm (exhibition runs through March 4)
It’s All About Thee AAWWWTTTT!!! Ball
At this point, the event is standing-room only, but I had to highlight the ball that’s taking place at Hauser & Wirth. The House of AWT (Artists Working Together), an organization that unleashes artistic expression for LGBTQIA+ youth, is showcasing their community’s voguing talents in the first-ever Exhibition Vogue Ball. Curator The Legendary Sean/Milan Garcon has invited five legendary house mothers to judge more than 30 house and ballroom performers to compete across five categories, including European Runway and Hand Performance. You better werk!
Hauser & Wirth (hauserwirth.com)
901 East 3rd Street, Arts District, Los Angeles
February 15, 9pm
Khaleb Brooks: The Well Retreat
Khaleb Brooks is known for his paintings that illuminate the history of the transatlantic slave trade while queering Blackness. The artist, who has been working in Europe for the past decade, has returned to the United States to attend Tuxedo Residency and create a new series of works about Black mental health within the American healthcare industry. During Frieze week, he’s collaborating with the production company VAM STUDIO to launch a new project called The Well Retreat, a salon that invites other creatives to share work that pushes against stereotypes about Blackness and wellness. Given the involvement of the production company, you can expect a multisensory, cozy space that emphasizes self-care and connection.
Trulee Hall: Ladies’ Lair Lake
Last year, Trulee Hall brought people into her matriarchal mythology with a solo exhibition bearing the same name at the arts nonprofit LAND. Now, she has adapted her fantasy world, an Eden-like paradise, into a feature-length film. The screening will be accompanied by live musicians playing the film’s 16 original scores. In Hall’s musical about the creation of womankind, a sisterhood of nymphs balance their desires with fate, experience the loss of innocence, struggle with autonomy lost through motherhood. This film also launches this year’s Outfest Platinum Series, which pushes forward LGBTQIA+ stories in film, performance, and multimedia works.