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Teofilo Cohen, courtesy of Proyectos Monclova.

Rita Gonzalez Puts LA Galleries in Focus

Frieze Los Angeles introduces a new section for its second edition this week, Focus LA. The platform features Los Angeles galleries that have been open for 15 years or less. Advised by LACMA’s Curator and Department Head of Contemporary Art Rita Gonzalez, galleries like VSF, The Mistake Room, Parker, Charlie James, and The Pit will present solo and curated projects.

Whitewaller asked Gonzalez about what’s in store.

Rita Gonzalez Courtesy of Mark Blower / Frieze.

WHITEWALLER:  How did you want to inaugurate the new platform, Focus LA?

RITA GONZALEZ: I think Frieze wanted to expand on the successful inclusion of up-and-coming L.A.-based galleries last year. They asked me to bring in some more voices and also think about how the booths would potentially dialogue with each other. I hope it will show the different energies and affinities that the galleries have while allowing visitors to focus on monographic or two person presentations.

Teofilo Cohen, courtesy of Proyectos Monclova.

WW: How would you describe the community of emerging galleries in LA at this moment?

RG: I am attracted to the range of approaches in galleries with some committed to bringing global and national diversity into their programs and others bringing to light different aspects of 20th to 21st century West Coast artistic practices. A gallery like Chateau Shatto seems to be invigorated by the role that Los Angeles has played for as a site for artistic, literary and theoretical collisions. Commonwealth and Council has what I would call a mission statement on their website that describes their program in relation to intersectionality, generosity, and hospitality. Charlie James Gallery has been one of the all too few galleries in the U.S. to build up a list of Latinx artists.

Mira Dancy Night Gallery Mira Dancy, Toxic, 2018, courtesy of Night Gallery.

WW: What kinds of presentations can we expect from Focus LA – any thematic or solo presentations?

RG: There are both strong pairings of artists such as Aria Dean & Helen Johnson (Chateau Shatto), Mira Dancy and Anne Libby (Night Gallery), as well as solo booths devoted to under recognized artists like Gladys Nilsson (Parker Gallery) and Takako Yamaguchi (as-is) and up and coming ones like Jaime Muñoz (The Pit) and Calida Rawles (VSF).

WW: You also co-curated Frieze Projects this edition. Can you share some of the highlights for you in this year’s presentation?

RG: All of the projects are highlights for me! I think the range of artistic practices is broad, even within the durational performance-related works by Tania Candiani, Patrisse Cullors, Channing Hansen, and Naama Tsabar that will unfold over the weekend.

I love that we are bringing major projects by Gary Simmons, Barbara Kasten, and Lorna Simpson that have not been seen on the West Coast. Pilar and I also wanted to highlight Latin American and Latinx artists in our selection and are proud to include Tania Candiani, Jonathas de Andrade, Mario Garcia Torres, Sayre Gomez, Vincent Ramos, and Gabriella Sanchez.

WW: Outside of the fair, what are you looking forward to seeing around LA in Feb?

RG: In terms of gallery shows, I look forward to The Box’s presentation of performance artist and punk rocker Johanna Went. Also, I have been anxiously awaiting the Huma Bhabha and Lauren Halsey shows at David Kordansky Gallery. The Mistake Room will be presenting a solo show of Felipe Baeza that I am sure will be stunning. The Armory in Pasadena will be presenting “Tanya Aguiñiga: Borderlands Within” that includes work related to her extremely timely and important AMBOS project. And I would be remiss not to tout the triple whammy of monographic exhibitions at LACMA: Julie Mehretu, Luchita Hurtado, and Betye Saar.




Whitewall spoke with Kelly Wearstler about the evolution of her practice, and why her projects are rooted in tension and synchronicity.
The fifth edition of Spring/Break Art Show Los Angeles kicked off in a 1940s warehouse space within the Culver City Arts District.


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