After a string of rainy and uncharacteristically cold days, visitors who traveled to Los Angeles for a spate of art fairs this week couldn’t help but be disappointed by the weather. The weather was especially tough for the inaugural L.A. edition of Spring/Break, a young New York fair that opened Friday downtown in a row of disused industrial stalls, the roll-up doors of which opened directly to an uncovered parking lot. “We’re at least happy for these overhangs,” Spring/Break co-founder Andrew Gori said, optimistically. At the fair’s rainy opening on Friday, the partial covering overhead kept visitors at least relatively dry.
The fair’s first foray into Los Angeles opened with 40 largely L.A.-based exhibiting artists and curators occupying 1,000-square-foot stalls to stage their own exhibitions, all free of charge. The lineup, according to Gori, “came together spontaneously through a network of friends and word-of-mouth,” similar to the early days of Spring/Break as an upstart fair five years ago. Consequently, the lineup reads like a who’s who of emerging local spaces, many of them artist-run: Tin Flats, BBQLA, HILDE, and others.
In contrast to the grey skies, many of the stalls were filled with color. Desert Center’s presentation of “Nowhere Over the Rainbow” took up Spring/Break’s curatorial theme, “Fact or fiction,” with a group show of artists who “employ the tropes and chromatics of gold, rainbows, hybrid identities and failed ideologies,” according to a statement by curator Michael Slenske. Inside the booth rainbows abound, with highlights including the iridescent luster of vessels sculpted by ceramic artist Jackie Rines and stills of performance pieces by Rachel Mason, a politically-minded performance artist under the name FutureClown whose costumes comprise both exaggerated body parts and ultra-saturated neon colors.
The stall for two artist-run groups dedicated to performance art and new media—Coaxial Arts Foundation and Femmebit (the latter of which is all-female)—enjoyed the ambient lighting of Suzy Poling’s Primary Optic Shift, a reflective kinetic sculpture projecting hazy pink light around the room. The group show, “Femmebit: Screen as Persona,” addressed fact and fiction with digital works that explored how identity can be manipulated or expressed via digital media. There’s Sarah Manuwal’s Cyber Masking, a 2016 video work in which the subject is peeling off a face mask made of moving digital graphics. It’s displayed on a monitor above Sarah Zucker’s u can’t grab this, with footage of a hand continuously reaching for a digital quicksand of oozy cascading colors. Kate Parsons, whose work often explores mythological motifs of death and renewal, brought a virtual-reality experience called The Dark Spring, a dark sky and field on which, with two white hands outstretched, you could pick glowing, floating stems of tulips to the soothing sounds of R&B.
“I think L.A. has been really interesting with people who are fearless about the desire to explore, and the city has very youthful energy in terms of showing artwork,” Gori, the co-founder, said of the reason that he and his partner, Ambre Kelly, had been wanting to bring Spring/Break to L.A. for years. “Our instincts were to focus on the art and curatorial vision coming out of L.A.,” Gori adds. “I’ve always felt there was like such a robust arts culture in L.A., you know?”