Who to Network With During Art LA Contemporary
Get familiar with Laura Owens and David Kordansky.
It’s no secret that the contemporary art scene in Los Angeles has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years, helped in no small part by the 2015 opening of The Broad art museum, the new outposts by East Coast and European galleries, and the generally thriving local scene, which includes a plethora of independent and experimental art spaces.
On Thursday, when Art LA Contemporary launches its eighth edition—the VIP opening is January 26—there will be plenty of other things to do and see at art spaces and galleries around town to put on your calendar. As you’re making the rounds at the fair and other openings, why not take a look at our suggestions for who to network with. You would do well to cozy up to these West Coast power players.
1. Michael Govan, Director, LACMA
The New York transplant and former Dia Art Foundation director is a self-described “provocateur” who has been a force since arriving at LACMA (see image above) a decade ago. His daring approach to installing and displaying art—such as moving artist Michael Heizer’s massive boulder Levitated Mass through the streets of LA before placing it over a tunnel on the museum ground—is matched by his extensive knowledge of art history and fund-raising prowess. According to a recent report, average attendance at LACMA has doubled since 2007, to 1.6 million people. Of an ambitious $600 million planned overhaul and an albeit somewhat controversial design by architect Peter Zumthor, Govan has already raised roughly $300 million of the projected cost to date.
2. Bettina Korek, Founder, For Your Art
The influential founder of For Your Art, an independent advocacy group for Los Angeles art and artists, Bettina Korek supports the burgeoning LA scene with a vibrant program and space on Wilshire Boulevard right near LACMA that hosts short term and spontaneous events with artists, writers, curators, collectives, publishers and other organizations. Korek sees herself as an ambassador for what she calls Los Angeles’s “art ecosystem.”
3. Helen Molesworth, Chief Curator, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)
Helen Molesworth’s appointment as chief curator in 2014 was widely regarded as a major step in continuing to shore up the museum’s brand and identity after a bruising and contentious couple of years with dealer Jeffrey Deitch at the helm. At the time Molesworth’s new position was announced, museum director Philippe Vergne noted “her deep love of MOCA,” adding that she “knows MOCA’s history, she knows MOCA’s collection, she understands it.” Among the much-lauded shows she has organized in her relatively short tenure was “The Art of Our TIme,” a 2016 exhibition of work from the permanent collection in which she successfully re-presented the story of 20th century art in a radical new way.
4. Eli and Edythe Broad, Founders, The Broad
Powerhouse collectors Eli and Edythe Broad’s dream museum was finally opened, to much hype, in the fall of 2015 with a permanent collection that reads like a who’s who of contemporary art stars—Jeff Koons, Cindy Sherman, Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Beuys, Sam Francis, and Ed Ruscha, to name a few. It was perhaps not surprising that the museum smashed attendance records in its first year with visitors to its downtown location numbering more than 820,000. The Broads’s passionate devotion to contemporary art is evident with ongoing acquisitions including Jordan Wolfson’s alternately fascinating and terrifying Female Figure (2014), Yayoi Kusama’s immersive Infinity Mirrored Room—The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away (2013), Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s much-lauded video installation The Visitors (2012), and William Kentridge’s intriguing and sprawling sculptural video work The Refusal of Time (2012).
5. Mark Bradford, Artist
To say that Mark Bradford is a rock star, as contemporary artists go, is something of an understatement. His large scale and multilayered works—which have fetched upwards of $5 million at auction—dazzled audiences at recent solo shows at the Saint Louis Contemporary Art Museum, the Albright Knox Art Gallery, and Hauser & Wirth (2015). This year, Bradford will show a suite of site-specific commissioned paintings at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. He’s also been nominated, by three museums, to represent the US at the upcoming Venice Biennale. Aside from his artistic practice, Bradford runs Art + Practice, a non profit organization that provides support services to youth in foster care in South Los Angeles.
6. Ed Ruscha, Artist
Famous for his word and text paintings, Ed Ruscha has not only come to be a living symbol of California and West Coast art, but he’s also a favorite of collectors, dealers, and institutions alike. Most recently, his name was on our radar when Leonardo Di Caprio shelled out $125,000 at a charity auction for the right to commission one of his drawings—we hear the artist is a frequent donor to such events, which prompted us to take a closer look at his white-hot market. The high end of the market for Ruscha’s work has soared in recent years, with the current record at a hefty $30.4 million, which was set in November 2014 at Christie’s New York for the large-scale word painting Smash (1963). The artnet Price Database lists more than 3,300 auction results, and to date, 69 works have sold for more than $1 million each at auction.
7. David Kordansky, Art Dealer
In the 13 years since David Kordansky became an art dealer, his gallery went from a 500-square-foot Chinatown space to its current 12,000-square-foot Culver City location designed by Thai architect Kulapat Yantrasast. The vibrant roster of artists he has successfully championed include Rashid Johnson, Matthew Brannon, Jonas Wood, and Tala Madani. “I established the gallery wanting to engage, and to keep discovering this vastly diverse group of artists living and working in my adopted backyard,” Kordansky told artnet News in a recent interview. Kordansky has also incorporated older artists into the gallery stable. “The notion that a gallery needs to be generational is outdated and limiting, if not silly,” he said. “A gallery should be a collective of ideas, and ideas transcend time and place.”
8. Shaun Caley Regen, Art Dealer
With a roster of artists who have remained central to the conversation of contemporary art, including Doug Aitken, Marilyn Minter, Catherine Opie, and Elizabeth Peyton, Regen Projects—founded by Shaun Caley Regen—is credited with spearheading the eastward migration of LA galleries. The gallery, which was founded in 1989, moved to a sprawling 21,000-square foot space in East Hollywood in 2012—the large white building with a block-lettered sign is unmissable if you’re driving down Santa Monica Boulevard. After the much-lauded Theaster Gates show at the gallery, “But to Be A Poor Race,” comes down in February, the gallery will stage a show of artwork from the 1990s.
9. Laura Owens, Artist and Co-Founder, 365 S. Mission
Laura Owens is known for mashing up diverse styles and art historical references in her innovative paintings and for turning her studio into an exhibition space, 365 South Mission, in 2013 in collaboration with her longtime dealer Gavin Brown. And she’s also one of the most buzzed-about artists of her generation. Expect the interest in the artist to intensify when the Whitney Museum mounts a retrospective of her work this fall. Whitney chief curator Scott Rothkopf has been working closely with the artist in organizing the show. If you’re in town for the art fair, don’t miss the staging of Trisha Baga’s new musical “Biologue” at 365 South Mission on Friday, January 27.
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