The Art Angle Podcast: How Hollywood Finally Fell for the Art Market
On this week's episode, the founder of a hot young L.A. gallery opens up about Hollywood's collecting culture and staying calm amidst the art fair frenzy.
Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein every week for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.
The Oscars may be over, but Hollywood is about to be overrun with a different kind of A-lister this week when the art world descends on Tinseltown for the second edition of Frieze Los Angeles.
Despite the glut of disposable income earned from media moguls and tech startups, it has long proven difficult for East Coast dealers to make inroads with prospective clients on the country’s opposite flank. In this context, the success of Frieze’s southern California debut last year was a pleasant surprise.
One gallery that has had no problem endearing itself to a diverse audience in Los Angeles from the start is Various Small Fires. Co-founded in 2012 by Esther Kim Varet and her husband Joseph Varet, VSF, as it’s commonly known, occupies a highly coveted spot along a gallery-rich stretch of Highland Avenue in Hollywood. Its Johnston Marklee-designed Art Deco-style building boasts a 3,000-square-foot main gallery connected to two adjacent project spaces, a roofless back patio that acts as an oasis in the midst of the bustling city, and the rare eco-friendly pedigree of running on 100 percent solar energy.
Though the roster is small, VSF’s 12 artists hold an outsize claim on the LA art scene—and beyond—with strong institutional presences and a near-constant waiting list for new work. One key to this impressive reach? The gallery’s forward-looking decision to embrace Kim Varet’s Korean heritage and open a second permanent space in Seoul in early 2019, allowing VSF to connect with young collectors on both sides of the Pacific.
On this week’s episode, Andrew Goldstein speaks to Esther Kim Varet from her office in California about what makes VSF an outlier in the often-staid, anachronistic world of art galleries, how dealers can win their artists institutional sustainability in an increasingly market-oriented field, and why photorealist painter Calida Rawles is poised to lead a renaissance of the underappreciated genre.
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