Candy may be the art world's answer to the recession blues. Sweet and palatable images abounded at last week's Los Angeles Art Show: Wayne Theibaud's ice cream cones, Jean Wells' giant chocolate Kiss and pink cupcake sculptures, and gummi bears expertly captured in oil by Jeanne Vadeboncouer.
Beyond the theme of edible delights, a wide range of art styles, from California impressionists to New York abstract expressionists, Arts and Crafts-era prints to cutting-edge video installations, gave the Fine Art Dealers Association's (FADA) 15th annual show breadth.
This year, heavy rains and a still-bleak economy may have kept celebrity buyers and some art collectors away from the show, held at the vast West Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center, from January 20 to 24. On Friday evening, the attendance was slim, but several red dots indicated buyers' interests.
Among the sold works, a large-sized Paul Sample, titled "Lifeline of Freedom - The Merchant Marine," was offered by Connecticut dealer Abby M. Taylor Fine Art, who maintained two booths, one with all sculpture and the other focused on paintings.
New York-based Arcadia Fine Arts, specializing in contemporary representational art, included the fine figural works of Malcolm T. Liepke that are long-associated with the gallery, as well as a mesmerizing sea painting by Matthew Cornell and the imaginative works of Michael Chapman, which proved popular with buyers.
Although the venue is expansive, this show is easy to navigate with exhibitors seemingly grouped according to their specialties. Upon entering, the first exhibitor was New York's Rehs Galleries, known for Barbizon, realist and academic painters such as Daniel Ridgway Knight. The visitor was treated to a seamless transition to 19th-century European art offered by M.S. Rau Antiques and Schiller & Bodo, who displayed a Corot landscape and other Barbizon works.
Traditional artists, mostly California impressionists, are also found at the front of the show. George Stern Fine Art showcased a lovely Colin Campbell Copper of Samarkand, Santa Barbara. A vivid Louis Ritman (priced at $575,000) was on view at William Karges.
Moving into the center of the show, Gana Art Gallery brought an acrylic Andy Warhol of Mao ($1.1 million), Tasende Gallery offered a bounty of big Fernando Boteros, and Timothy Yarger Fine Art once again showcased the smile-inducing mosaic sculptures of Jean Wells. Her eye-catching installation of a giant Hershey's Kiss enticed visitors inside to view a video of romantic vintage movie clips.
A few large-scale, distinctive paintings that were shown by exhibitors last year made a re-appearance at this year's show. While, adding a new dimension to the whole experience, was the inaugral Guest Country Program, featuring contemporary art from Uruguay. Video artist Pablo Uribe, a Venice Biennale alum, created a scene with a lone man on a stage projecting peculiar bird calls and other animal sounds.
Noteworthy was the vibrant group of abstract expressionist paintings by Charlotte Park at New York's Spanierman Modern. Jonathan Novak had Wayne Thiebaud ice cream cones exhibited above a tantalizing oil rendition of three shiny donuts by American photorealist Ralph Goings.
For new collectors, there were many appealing works priced under $20,000. Susan Teller, of New York, brought an array of modernist gems. Palo Alto, Calif.-based Bryant Street Gallery had the finely-rendered still-lifes of Jeanne Vadeboncouer, whose depiction of a pair of eggs was near-perfect, but most irresistible are her charming oils of gummis. For those looking for something to smile about: View her candy bear line-up titled "The Usual Suspects" (price: $3,600).
See ARTFIXdaily's photo gallery of more 2010 LA Art Show highlights.