LA Art Show 2015 Kicks Off With Celebrity Gala

Jordan Riefe

Amy Adams and fiancé Darren La Gallo host the gala for charity and art from over 22 countries.

LA Art Show 2015 kicked off at the Convention Center Wednesday night with a premiere party that brought out celebrities, art buyers, art lovers and likers. Fresh off her Golden Globe win, Amy Adams and fiancé Darren Le Gallo hosted the gala for beneficiary St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital which will receive most of the evenings proceeds. The guest list also included James Franco, Jessica Chastain, Adrian Grenier and numerous film and TV actors.

Running through Jan. 18, the LA Art Show includes 120 galleries from over 22 countries gathered in the cavernous 200 thousand-foot South Hall. The show’s highlights include works by well-known artists like Baldessari, Ruscha and Picasso, but most of the work on display is by unknowns. With a focus on historic, modern and contemporary art, the show has almost no focus at all. “It’s for the retail collector but then also somebody that’s learning about art and wants to collect, or for a serious collector,” general manager, Kim Martindale, tells THR. “This show is really about having a broad spectrum, so you can come in here and think that you maybe want Chinese paintings but maybe you really like Cuban art.”

Local artist Jim Morphesis has worked the fair before, but is sitting this year out. “We hate this thing,” he laughs. “There’s a lot of bad work. But some good work. You can tell how good a fair is, there’s not a lot of name New York galleries here.” Like Morphesis, many of the major international art dealers also tend to sit out the LA Art Show. But by all accounts there is great art on sale and you’re likely to get a better deal than you might in a gallery. “You find something you like, I would take that,” says Morphesis, adding that the fair’s final day is the best time to buy. “By the last day you’re ready to make any deal. After three or four days, take it. I don’t want to have to ship it back.”

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Marking its twentieth anniversary, the LA Art Show began with only 14 galleries and an audience of 250. It’s growth over the years reflects Los Angeles’ emergence as a world center for contemporary art. “I think it reflects the city,” says art dealer Jack Rutberg. “The reality is this fair has done an amazing job. They have brought 50, 60 thousand people through the doors. They’ve done their job, now we have to do ours.”

Rutberg, who has a gallery on La Brea Avenue, represents artists like surrealist photographer Joel-Peter Witkin. His work is displayed alongside his estranged twin brother, Jerome, for the first time in fifty years. Another of Rutberg’s artists is Jordi Alcaraz whose soothing abstract works contrast or maybe even complement Witkin’s. And a few galleries over, the corpse of Kim Jong-Il seems frozen in a Coke machine. And there’s portrait of Bob Marley and a photo of Gary Cooper. Street artist, Retna has three works in the show, but not as many as Marc Chagall.

“There’s no question it is the most eclectic art fair,” laughs Rutberg. “And eclectic doesn’t have to be pejorative, but it is no question the most eclectic art fair in the world that establishes a high quality.”

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