Event Coverage: Photo/Video Highlights from the Littletopia section at the 2018 LA Art Show, by Cindy Schwarzstein

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Littletopia – the show within a show – was back for its fifth year at the LA Art Show on January 10-14th. This years section curator was Rachael Cronin of Red Truck Gallery in New Orleans, who not only brought artists from her gallery but also invited galleries and artists from around the world to participate in the vision originally set by Noah Antieau’s of creating a very eclectic grouping of unique contemporary art. With a focus on pop-surrealism and lowbrow work that is sometimes dark and sometimes whimsically amusing with pop culture references, the variety of art includes paintings, illustrations, mixed media, assemblage, sculpture, installations, and functional art. It’s historically been my favorite section of the La Art Show.

Entering the decidedly distinct realm of Littletopia, where one passes through a massive archway, which signals that you are indeed entering a different world, I’m always excited for the experience. It’s here where each year, a different artist is selected to create the iconic entry installation. This year, internationally renowned muralist and installation artist Dennis McNett (aka Wolfbat), who is in the top photo, was selected to build the archway. Wolfbat is known for creating large-scale work with incredibly intricate details, folkloric imagery, and psychedelic patterns. I’ve been a fan of his work for quite a long time, so it was really fun to see him this year at the LA Art Show.

A highly anticipated annual tradition at this show is that Littletopia honors a person of great achievement at an awards ceremony on the fairs’ first full day. This year, the honoree was Margaret Keane, creator of the iconic “Big Eyes” stylized artwork. Her special Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to her by artist Mab Graves, who says she is one of his greatest inspirations. Her gallery, Keane Eyes Gallery of San Francisco, was also presenting a retrospective of her work inside Littletopia, entitled “ Margaret Keane: A Survivor and Woman of Two Centuries.“

There was also another tribute this year, which was a memorial to renowned and beloved art pioneer, and my friend, Greg Escalante. Greg was a visionary art advocate who owned Gregorio Escalante Gallery, a thriving gallery in LA’s Chinatown, and Copro Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica. He was also the co-founder of Juxtapoz Magazine who passed away unexpectedly a few months ago. In previous years, some Littletopia programming was handled by the late Escalante, who was a huge proponent of the lowbrow art movement, and a champion to many emerging artists in that genre. His memory and legacy was honored in various ways throughout Littletopia, including a sponsored bar featuring a mural by Jillian Evelyn, and a memorial altar.

For my coverage of both the Greg Escalante tribute and the awards ceremony for Margaret Keane, I took a few photos of the crowd that follows in this post, as well as recording a Facebook live video that included words by Mike Shine and Robert Williams. SEE THE FACEBOOK LIVE VIDEO HERE.

Another must-see installation that was within this unconventional art arena was an installation presented by Superchief Gallery of LA. A first time participant in the fair, Superchief, who is our neighbor in DTLA, brought the centerpiece of their most recent exhibition “Space Angels,” a solo show featuring artist Bunnie Reiss, that Cartwheel Art had covered quite extensively. The installation featured a 22-foot “space boat” created in memory of the victims of the Ghost Ship art community fire that killed 36 in Oakland last December.

In my photo essay below, there are some crowd shots of the Margaret Keane awards ceremony and Greg Escalante tribute. I’ve also included photos of some of our gallery friends and artists, mixed in with a bit of that art, that I experienced. This occurred between the move-in, move-out, and the actual show dates, as I was working the two Cartwheel Art Booths, one of which was a Featured Programming booth for the exhibition we presented “L.A.: LEY LINES” and the other, our media booth with the speakeasy theme to tie-into our “Underground LA” tour. Some of the photos were also taken the last hour of the opening night while I was hanging with Dan Levy from Juice Magazine. He was the official Cartwheel Art photographer for the evening.

I’m already excited for next years LA Art Show and the Littletopia section! In the meantime, I hope you enjoy experiencing this year’s LA Art Show with my photo essay, as much as I am! 🙂

View looking towards the entrance of the Littletopia section from the Cartwheel Art Featured Programming Exhibition booth of L.A. LEY LINES..

Guests waiting for the awards ceremony and tribute to begin

Guests waiting for the awards ceremony and tribute to begin

Mike Shine, who spoke at the Greg Escalante tribute and had artwork on exhibition at Red Truck

Victerror Wordsworth and Marco Gomezleon were at the award ceremony and tribute

Katherine Huntoon and Jon Gothold were at the award ceremony and tribute

Sma, who worked the Cartwheel Art booth for us this year with Dosshaus

Joshua Ben Paskowitz and Family

Larry Endicott and Gabriel Shaffer from Red Truck Gallery at the awards ceremony and tribute

Kim Martindale Director, and Producer of LA Art Show and Rachael Cronin of Red Truck and Curator of Littletopia at the LA Art Show, who spoke for the awards ceremony and tribute.

The artwork of Mab Graves in Red Truck Gallery

(L-R) Adam Wallacavage (artist), Dan Levy (Juice Magazine, Friend and Nik Sin (Red Truck) in the Red Truck booth on Opening Night

(L-R) Jeff Ho (Zephyr), Adam Wallacavage (artist) and Dan Levy 9Juice Magazine) on Opening Night

Gary Pressman and Erica Miller of Copro Gallery on Opening Night

Gary Baseman and Friend with Dan Levy (Juice Magazine) on Opening Night

(L-R) Dan Levy (Juice Magazine), Jeff Ho (Zephyr), Jared Aufrichtig, Mat Gleason (Coagula & Modern Art Blitz) and Abel Alejandre (artist and Modern Art Blitz) on Opening Night

The Girls of Artists Republic Gallery and Dan Levy (Juice Magazine) on Opening Night

Rachael Cronin, Nik Sin and Gabriel Shaffer of Red Truck Gallery

Show day at the entrance of Red Truck Gallery with the installation of Wolfbat

Jonathan Levine Gallery

Jonathan Levine with the work of Tristan Eaton in the background

Jeff Gillette at Jonathan Levine Gallery

Joao Ruas at Jonathan Levine Gallery

Ronald Gonzalez at Jonathan Levine Gallery

Kazuhiro Tsuji with his sculpture of Mark Ryden at Copro

Augustine Kofie at Mirus

Hueman at Mirus

Nawer at Mirus

Jeffrey Gillette

Jeffrey Gillette

Bunnie Reiss

The Public House of Art

Racheal Croan from Red Truck Gallery with Cindy Schwarzstein of Cartwheel Art just before closing of the LA Art Show.

Mab Graves at Red Truck

Jessicka Adams at Red Truck Gallery

Mike Shine at Red Truck Gallery

Red Truck Gallery

Mab Graves


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