Airport Hangar As Big Top: An Art Spectacle Lands In Los Angeles County
Can the dedication and output of hundreds of artists, fit into a single exhibit space?
October 3, 2019
To visit Saatchi Art's The Other Art Fair is both inspiring and overwhelming. The Other Art Fair is a multi-city exhibition that provides a platform for emerging artists to display their work in unique venues around the world.
This year's Los Angeles fair was held at Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica airport on a hot September weekend. To immerse oneself in this sphere of prolific artists is to collide with the primal human drive to create.
It is a buoyant and hopeful feeling to see the dedication and output by hundreds of artists in a single exhibit space. Some visitors might struggle to curate their viewing experience in such an abundant atmosphere; personal interaction is a handy compass to navigate this vast sea of people dreaming and doing.
Within the Hangar, exhibitors and visitors engaged in inquiry-based conversations from a foundational love of fine art, some with kids, dogs, and cocktails in tow. Artists with work in myriad styles, mediums, methodologies apply to The Other Art Fair via an online portal and, if accepted, pay for an exhibit space. The booths become micro galleries, decorated to draw in passersby. Looking closer is the key. It is, after all, an event of discovery.
For online visual storyteller Allison Bagg (@abagg), it was her booth's location at the entrance of the hangar and interaction in real life (IRL) that made for an especially positive experience. "This was actually my second show with The Other Art Fair, and I enjoyed the Barker Hangar because of the fresh air and direct sunlight," relates Bagg. "I was right by the entrance, so being able to see the sky, the planes flying overhead, and the palm trees swaying in the breeze, was really grounding for me.
"I found the experience rewarding, mainly because it was fascinating to see what pieces of art people connect with in real life," she continues. "I post a lot of pieces I'm working on to my Instagram, but sometimes the feedback is different in-person than online. When I design my booth, I try to create a unique space and portal that feels separate from the show. I want it to feel cozy, as if it could be your home. I find kids and dogs are really drawn to it, and take that as a huge compliment."
For many of the featured artists, connecting with audiences before and after The Other Art Fair was an essential part of the experience. All of the artists we spoke with have a digital presence, largely on Instagram, and leverage it in varying degrees. Sydney-based Artist Tyrone Layne, who painted a custom series explicitly for the Los Angeles show, says, "I've been in other art fairs through galleries, but with The Other Art Fair, I enjoy being onsite and in control of my booth to see the response I get to my work. I did a little bit of Instagram marketing leading into the fair, with a small budget. In general, I think social media is very important in building and nurturing a client base." You can find Tyrone Layne on instagram @tyronelayne.
Kyong Boon Oh describes her process as the subtractive, additive, and simple winding process of different mediums to explore things unseen. "To clarify vague human images lingering in my mind, I explore abstract forms using 3D mediums such as stone, clay and metal wire simultaneously and allow the physicality of the materials to lead," she explains. Her booth featured a compelling and diverse collection of her various approaches, all driven with this intent.
The Other Art Fair isn't just a series of mini museums, it's a marketplace -- a venue that holds the promise of exposure and the coveted red dot indicating a piece has sold. It's hard to put a price on art, there is no standard bearer or rate sheet, or to know the tipping point of interest that will translate into a purchase. Prices varied from the single digits to thousands of dollars, offering a wide range for potential buyers eager to take home an original piece of art.
As people of all ages streamed from the vibrant sunlight, the heat radiating off the tarmac and into the mini realms created by each artist, it mirrored, in many ways, what makes Los Angeles a vibrant mega-city: diversity, originality, creativity, and entrepreneurship. All pulled off in the challenging heat of a Southern California September weekend. Then, like a circus, it was gone.