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The eighth edition of Art Los Angeles Contemporary (ALAC) opens later this week, open to the public January 26—29 at The Barker Hangar in Santa Monica. With a strong focus on L.A. galleries, the fair will host over 60 exhibitors, including a number of first-timers from Asia and Latin America. Highlights from this year’s program include screenings by Pat O’Neill, a talk with Jasmine Nyende, performances by Puppies Puppies, and more. Whitewall caught up with fair director Tim Fleming to find out what else to expect.
WHITEWALL: How would you describe Los Angeles as an art capital?
TIM FLEMING: It’s an art scene that develops in waves. Similar to the phases of L.A.’s expansion—the pre-war city, the postwar sprawl, and the Third L.A. with its current push for density—there have often been associated eruptions in the cultural scene. What, I think, makes the current art boom unique is the interest from international galleries who see Los Angeles as an essentially artmaking city. There have always been artists based here. I no longer hear anyone questioning L.A.’s place in the contemporary art world, but rather ask what are the limits of its expansion.
WW: This is the eighth edition of the fair. What have been some of the larger changes or evolutions of the fair since its beginnings?
TF: The fair has grown and developed in so many ways since we first held our inaugural edition at the PDC, where we were cutting holes between showrooms to make them functional art fair spaces. We have established the fair as an international access point to Los Angeles’ cultural and collecting scene. Now there are definitely more galleries from the Pacific Rim including newcomers from Asia, Latin America, and New Zealand. The fair has evolved along with the city and we’re proud to work with some of the best regional galleries.
Yet as the fair has grown, we’ve continued to highlight and create space for voices at the forefront of the art world. This includes our young Freeways section, which returns for its second year, and our curated events and programming schedule that fully integrates aspects of film and performance–mediums that are deeply rooted in the cultural fabric of the city.
WW: How do you manage a healthy balance between local and international galleries while preserving the quality of the artwork being showcased?
TF: A third of ALAC this year is composed of local galleries. Whether local or not, each application is judged on its own merits based on the exhibiting artists’ work and their vision for the presentation. By design, ALAC has had a large percentage of regional galleries because that’s where the support was born. Local galleries play host to their international peers, as they’ve always played a very important part in the makeup of the fair. It’s our job to reflect what’s happening in L.A. within the context of an international audience.
WW: Have you seen the collector profile of your attendees shift, or have you seen an uptick in interest of a certain medium or group of artists?
TF: Accessibility has always been extremely important to ALAC, and each year we welcome the city’s longstanding collectors alongside people interested in purchasing their first artwork. Over the years, however, we have attracted more and more out-of-state and international collectors deeply invested with exhibiting artists and who are extremely curious about new developments in L.A.’s art scene.