Among the first events to return live, this weekend the LA Art Show wrapped a socially distanced special summer edition of the fair with half the attendance but double the sales. Galleries, art dealers, curators, collectors and art lovers masked up and made their way to Los Angeles Convention Center this past weekend to surround themselves with arts and culture, marking the first time in 18 months for some visitors.
Utilizing 150,000 square feet, new director Kassandra Voyagis was able to create an airy show with room to roam. In past years, as one of the most popular art fairs, the LA Art Show has hosted 65k guests, showcasing up to 150 galleries and museums from around the globe. Protocols for 2021 included wide aisles, clean air circulation, mandatory masks and limited total attendance of 30k art lovers over the course of 4 days. However, the decreased capacity certainly did not diminish the experience.
The event kicked off with a visit from Mayor Eric Garcetti, celebrating both the return of the show and the 50th anniversary of the Los Angeles Convention Center, followed by a successful opening night complete with red carpet. The celebration was hosted by international pop star Rita Ora in conjunction with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital® for a celebration of art and charitable components. The excitement was palpable, with an air of festivity from the outfits to the assumed smiles under everyone’s masked faces. The exhilaration continued throughout the weekend, heightened by a surprise visit from Arnold Schwarzenegger to the delight of the galleries.
The excitement of this year’s show was evident from the moment patrons stepped foot on the show floor, where they were instantly met with an NFT introduction, bringing live NFT sales to a consumer market. This presence is thanks to Vellum LA, the first physical gallery for NFT-backed digital art in Los Angeles ahead of their launch in September, and SuperRare, the leading and most trusted NFT marketplace for digital art. The strictly NFT gallery highlighted the most exciting female artists currently in the digital space, with their brand new show Sea Change. In a partnership with SuperRare as the LA Art Show’s official NFT marketplace, live NFT auctions were accessible to everyone on the floor, creating an exciting energy from the get go. Eight of the twelve artists sold beyond their reserve with a total Vellum LA and SuperRare sales of over $247,000. Additionally, Vellum’s technology partner StandardVision released their newest product Luma Canvas to great interest and even a sale of this first ever museum-grade LED display for digital art and NFTs, ushering in the art screens of the future.
Traditional galleries also had quite a busy weekend full of sales. Arcadia Gallery, one of the galleries returning to the show for another successful year, sold 65 pieces, a pleasant surprise for the veteran participant. Rehs Galleries, a New York based institution, was overwhelmed by the sales of the weekend, noting that every buyer was a new buyer. In fact, most galleries noted strong sales to new collectors, establishing meaningful connections with an entirely new clientele. Local favorite, Simard Bilodeau Contemporary said each of their artists sold a piece if not multiple, marking a successful weekend for their artists. Copro Gallery, known for their steeped history in lowbrow and pop surrealism was overwhelmed with sales, thrilled by the unexpected rush. 14-year-old Tex Hammond, nearly sold out of his work on display at Acosta Arts, an incredible feat for any artist, let alone the youngest to ever exhibit. Other galleries with stellar sales include Jane Kahan Gallery, Aibo Gallery, Abend Gallery, Peri Art, and first timer from Paris, Spaceless Gallery.
Continuing the many successes of the weekend, Citibank returned with an important presence at the show. Not only did they create a beautiful physical space, but they extended the reach of the fair to those unable to attend with a series of virtual gallerist talks. Each of the four featured galleries–the aforementioned Simard Bilodeau Contemporary, Caldwell Snyder Gallery, Pigment Gallery, and Rebecca Hossack Gallery–joined the other exhibitors with high sales and exposure.
World-renowned, LA native mural artist Robert Vargas was also back again for his live painting. With the goal to raise awareness for cancer, Vargas will donate 100% of his comissioned art proceeds to St. Jude.
This special LA Art Show Summer Edition was the idea of new director, Kassandra Voyagis. Having been met with such success and resounding positive feedback from visitors and exhibitors alike, the show organizers couldn’t feel more hopeful about the state of art fairs post-pandemic. Those who missed the show, or who attended and are already experiencing LA Art Show withdrawals, do not have to wait long.
The LA Art Show returns January 19-23, 2022 meaning there’s less than a six month wait!
Photos Courtesy of LA Art Show.