This is the first article of a Four Part series about the 2023 Los Angeles Art Week by Brooke Harker; cover photo artwork by Thandiwe Muriu on exhibit with 193 Gallery at LA Art Show;
 CLICK HERE for article # 2 (Felix Art Fair);
CLICK HERE for article # 3 (Frieze & Spring/Break art fairs);
CLICK HERE for article # 4 (LA Art Show);

On the heels of my solo exhibit of globally inspired cityscape paintings that opened at Gabba Gallery in Los Angeles in mid February, Kathy Leonardo (founder of LAArtParty.com, and EatTravelGo.com) asked to me to write about LA’s Art Week 2023 from my perspective as an artist.

Frieze entrance; photo by Brooke Harker; courtesy of ETG

During Frieze Week Los Angeles, as called by some, LA art galleries debut new exhibitions each year that coincide with the annual art week which takes place every February. The city buzzes with art fairs and works of artists and galleries from all over the world. As I dearly love to meet people internationally and collect art myself, this became a perfect project for me.

Within the span of four days, thousands of art lovers flocked to any and all of the four art fairs that formed the foundation of LA Art Week 2023: Felix Art Fair at the Hollywood Roosevelt, Frieze Los Angeles at the Santa Monica Airport Hanger, Spring/Break Art Fair at the Skylight Culver City, and the LA Art Show at the downtown LA Convention Center.

For anyone who loves to people watch, the personalities expressed in fashion at these events alone elevates the fun of attendance. Whether a woman wrapped in yellow caution tape with warning messages of global warming, or any number of neon cowboy outfits trimmed in feather boas, in LA, the appreciation of art takes many forms and speaks to the diversity this city attracts.

Environmental Art inspired Fashion at Frieze LA; photo by Brooke Harker; courtesy of ETG

However diverse in culture, life experiences, and personalities, what we share in common is how we all perceive life through our senses. Even with the natural human tendency to tune out certain amounts of information, the experience of an event like these can still be a flurry for the senses to process. I didn’t understand this territory when I first attended art fairs. I felt exhausted and thought perhaps it was from walking so much, yet on travels I could walk most of a day to take reference photographs for paintings and not get tired.

Eventually, I realized something that changed the landscape of art fairs for me. The amount of energy incapsulated into each piece of art, multiplied by thousands of artworks all on display under one roof is a lot of life force to comprehend. The sheer magnitude of that much attention in lines, flung in paint and sculpted in any number of materials is a force that tells the stories of many lifetimes.

Any attempt to take it all in, could feel a bit like being hit with a hurricane of other people’s emotions. In speaking with others, I discovered that I wasn’t alone in this experience. Hence the question, how does one attend an art event, soak up what inspires them and leave feeling energized instead of drained?

To quote one of my favorite Brandi Carlile songs, “You can dance in a hurricane, but only if you’re standing in the eye.”

Viewers with Horse Couple by Meruka Dopanzo, paper fabric and pigment on canvas on exhibit with Rebecca Houssack Art Gallery at LA Art Show; photo by Brooke Harker; courtesy of ETG

Keeping centered in an art fair gets easier when you stay focused on what resonates with you and let the rest of the sensory information pass by. In some ways, a fair could be compared to walking into a movie theater where thousands of movies are playing simultaneously. Which one are you going to watch?

Personally, I don’t like horror films or anything scary, so if art scares me, it’s not my jam. That’s ok, plenty of other people love to feel scared. There is an audience for every piece of art.

To help process the abundance of stimuli at art fairs, I’ve developed a game I call Art Treasure Hunt.  If you are a seasoned art viewer, you probably have your own system for viewing art that works for you.

For anyone looking for another way to experience these events, you might like to play this game, especially when confronted with thousands of creations. The directions are pretty simple. Sort for what resonates with you, and if you find a piece that calls to your soul, you win.

Audrey Halo, by DeVon on exhibit at LA Art Show

I tend to zoom through these events initially. This may seem disrespectful of the art, however if you spend too much time with art that doesn’t resonate, you won’t get to find the art that does, so give yourself permission to zoom. You can always return to an exhibit.

The results of this game will be different for everyone as people are often attracted to art that reflects something in their own energy and values.

Of the thousands of pieces I viewed, I narrowed my treasure hunt down to the works of twenty artists who originally came from countries including Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Nigeria, Kenya, Argentina, South Korea, the Ukraine and the United States with representation by galleries from LA to New York, London, Paris, Barcelona, Brussels and Shanghai.

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