Founded in 1994, the show has grown from a small regional event featuring 14 galleries to become the largest and longest running platform for fine art, bringing in more than 120 galleries representing 22 countries. Looking back on the 20 year history of the LA Art Show, one can’t help noticing how it has evolved, changing locations and growing in diversity to reflect the trajectory of the burgeoning Los Angeles art scene.
In a major departure from art fairs of the time, the LA Art Show was the first and only event to strategically incorporate galleries representing diverse art genres, broadening its audiences to include enthusiasts modern, contemporary, historic and traditional works, as well as works on paper, sculpture and installations, in one art fair.
This show format was specifically selected to meet the needs of the LA market. And, it has paid off with attendance and galleries increasing year over year.
The LA Art Show was founded in 1994, with Kim Martindale as general manager, to create a platform to showcase American Regionalism and Historic works.
Since then, it has outgrown three venues before finding its current home at the world class Los Angeles Convention Center six years ago. Prior to its move, the LA Art Show spent seven years at the Barker Hanger in Santa Monica where it cemented its location as a Los Angeles destination for art and design events. Beginning in 2009, the LA Art Show was at the forefront of the revival of downtown Los Angeles.
It was the first major art event to take place at the Convention Center and, though its move was initially met with skepticism by the arts community, has ultimately become an anchor event that has bolstered other events in the downtown area such as downtown art walks, the resurgence of Chung King Road and the Downtown Arts District.
The show’s success has been a rallying cry for other arts events in the city with several shows moving their events to downtown or to the month of January to capitalize on the momentum generated by the fair. The LA Art Show has been lauded in the media, attracting more than 300 international journalists and 5 billion media impressions each year. The show was featured on the Front Page of the Los Angeles Times Newspaper in 2013, the first time in the history of the paper that an art fair has Front Page.
Sparking global art trends, the LA Art Show has consistently been a stomping ground for established artists, and launching pad for emerging talent to showcase what’s now and next in art.
“The art and artists that have been featured at the LA Art Show have been exceptional over the years,” states LA Art Show Producer Kim Martindale. “I feel that the breadth and quality of the art has sometimes gone under the radar because of the grand scale of our event. We’ve had more than a dozen Venice Biennale artists exhibit their works at our show, as well as artists that have exhibited at major museums such as The Met and LACMA. Now that we are entering our twentieth year, it is an opportunity to look back on all of our accomplishments and the success we have amassed. Having a strong understanding of where we have been will help us chart out our next steps and direct how we want to grow in the future.”