(ArtfixDaily.com – Los Angeles) Hearts reigned supreme at the Los Angeles Art Show a near month before Valentine’s Day. The woeful economy kept the mood at this annual art fair sedate. Yet, a little hopefulness prevailed, perhaps spilled over from President Obama’s inauguration the day before.
The Opening Gala on January 21, 2009, saw a strong gate and a least a few cheerful “red dots,” including a giant Jim Dine golden-hued heart painting (priced $175,000 at Jonathan Novak).
In a move from its previous venue at Santa Monica’s Barker Hangar, the show filled the grand West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center through January 25. Opening night coincided with a Lakers-Clippers basketball game at the neighboring Staples Center and enthusiastic crowds spilled into both venues. The Lakers won (108 to 97), but did the dealers at the LA Art Show start 2009 with a winning streak? Many told Artfixdaily.com that they were hoping for “residual sales.”
For the art buyer, the scene was set for an exciting opening night experience. The convention center proved a comfortable space for this show. Compared to the airport hangar, it is bigger, the bathrooms are (much) better, the carpet is plusher.
With acres of booths representing 175 top international dealers, show organizer K.M. Martindale made a sensible floor plan. Namely, the dealers were grouped loosely by category which made the walking distances easier for collectors interested in particular styles or periods. Upfront were stationed the traditional Fine Art Dealers Association (FADA) dealers such as Rehs Gallery, William Karges, and Schiller & Bodo. Here, collectors were gathered around California or French Impressionists, Old Masters, and Barbizon beauties. An enormous array of contemporary dealers, and print dealers from the IFPDA 24th Annual Los Angeles Fine Print Fair, were combined in the convention center to offer up over 15,000 works of art for sale.
Moving into the heart of the hall was a pleasant surprise. Beverly Hills dealer Timothy Yarger was showing the smile-inducing, sculptural work of Jean Wells, a charmistic former ad executive-turned-artist whose father had worked in mosaics for ecclesiastical commissions.
Wells's own mosaic work is visually rich and fun, but her newer “foam” works also strike a chord of easy delight in these grim economic times. Debuting at the show was her trio of pastel candy hearts. Titled “Change of Heart,” lightly colored sides bear romantic hints like “Love Me” while the darker colored reverse sides offer up thinly-veiled resentments: “Back Off.” These crowd-pleasing mega-candies were priced at $4,500 each or $12,000 for the set of three. Wells’ work is on exhibit in "Intimacy & Seduction" at the Madden Museum of Art in Denver from Feb. 16 to June 30, 2009. Her whimiscal work stole our hearts...a recommended buy!