Cartwheel Art is a media partner for the LA Art Show, which is returning for its 24th year. The show runs from Wednesday, January 23, to Sunday, January 27, 2019, at the Los Angeles Convention Center. (Cartwheel will be in booth 154.) We reached out to Kim Martindale, who has been producing the LA Art Show since the beginning, to hear how it all began, what he’s most excited for at this year’s show, and what he hopes to accomplish with the show in the future.
How did you first get involved with the LA Art Show?
I started it with the Fine Art Dealers Association (FADA). It started as a historic show, because at that point, all of the dealers in FADA were either California Plein Air dealers or dealers of early 20th century and early 19th century and earlier works of art from the U.S. or from Europe. The show started with 12 or 14 dealers in Pasadena and 250 people attended.
I started having conversations with FADA a year before the first show. In those meetings, I said to the board members, ‘If you’re interested in just a regional show, then I’m not the person to do it. If you’re interested in really growing this show and hopefully someday, it will be an international show, then that would be my vision, because I believe in Los Angeles.” I don’t know how many years it’s going to take—it’s taken a lot more years than I thought it would—but that was my statement about 25 years ago.
What advice would you give someone who’s coming to the LA Art Show for the first time this year?
The show is 200,000 square feet, and that’s one reason that we’ve broken it into sections. We have core and modern and contemporary, but I think it’s also really important just to explore the show.
What I like to do, and I do this with shows I go to all over the world, is I walk the floor. If you’re exploring 200,000 square feet for the first time, get a floor plan and systematically walk through the show.
Don’t spend a lot of time at any particular thing. If it really sparks your interest, spend a little bit longer there, and maybe put a circle on the floor plan. I suggest that people really take it in, in a broader spectrum, make some circles on the floor plan, and then go back and really engage. On Thursday or Friday, it’s definitely more… I don’t want to say quiet, because there are still thousands of people there, but on Thursday and Friday, you can have more in-depth conversations with gallery owners. If you can make it on Thursday or Friday—I know not all of us can, because of work schedules—I think it’s good to come then.
What are you most excited about at this year’s LA Art Show?
The thing that I’m really looking forward to this year is something that I’ve been working on at the LA Art Show for the past six years, and that is the ink painting aspect of it. I’ve been interested in ink painting since I went to college in Japan and in Taiwan and was really introduced to ink painting. I worked for Sotheby’s for a while and studied ink painting at U.C. Berkeley with a professor named James Cahill, so I’ve been very interested in Asian ink painting—whether that be Japan, Korea, or China. All of those countries have unique styles of ink painting, and in those countries there are lots of schools. In some ways, ink painting is like saying “oil painting” in the western world. At this point, most people in the western world aren’t familiar with names of schools or of artists, so we call it all ink painting.
Some people have even said to me, six years ago when I started this, “Why ink painting again?” the second year. And that’s like saying, “Why oil painting again?” This tradition goes back thousands of years, and it’s a very important tradition in Asia. There’s very contemporary ink painting, there’s very traditional ink painting—all of the same thoughts and comments apply to oil painting, but we just aren’t as familiar. This year, finally, after six years of certain galleries coming and slowly building that up, we have a really nice selection of ink painting from China, Japan, and Korea. We have some featured programming on ink painting, and we’re going to have some talks on ink painting. By far, the show is much bigger than ink painting—ink painting is 8 galleries of the 120 galleries—but personally, that’s the thing that I’m most excited about.
Top image, Courtesy of LA Art Show. Above, Yu-Ichi Inoue, presented by Kamiya Co., Ltd.
When you envision the LA Art Show of the future, what do you see?
I feel like the LA Art Show, over the last 24 years, has been somewhat reflective of Los Angeles. As Los Angeles tastes have grown and changed, and more collectors are living in Los Angeles now—there’s a larger collector base here—the show has garnered a higher quality gallery, more galleries, and more international galleries. I believe that Los Angeles can really be a center for the arts in the show world. With Frieze coming and other things, maybe at some point we’ll all get on the same weekend, which I really hope we can, and that we can have something here like they have in Miami the first week of December.
People in Miami might get upset with me, but I really feel there is no comparison between Miami and Los Angeles as far as art centers. L.A. is an art center, and Miami is for a week.
Here, it could continue all year long, because we definitely are an art center, and that’s where I want to get my show to, so that tens of thousands of people are flying in from all over the world and the art is at a high level.
I always want the LA Art Show to be a comprehensive show. Our tagline is “The Most Comprehensive International Contemporary Art Show in America,” and what I mean by ‘comprehensive’ is that it has a variety of work. Many shows—and many people that write about art—want to have highly-curated shows, and I think those are wonderful. I think that LA, though, is a very diverse community, and LA is also a community that’s really learning and exploring what they like in art. I think so often, we get caught up in only cutting edge contemporary or only art from this area is great art. I think there is great art from around the world, and I don’t think it’s all necessarily done in a super cutting-edge contemporary style. I think there are other styles of work, such as ink painting or other things, that are great art. I think we should look at that, as people that have passion and love art, and not reject it whole-handedly, just because it isn’t the most cutting-edge contemporary art.
LA Art Show – Opening Night Party
January 23, 2019 (7 – 11 pm)
Thursday, January 24 – Saturday, January 26, 2019 (11 am – 7 pm)
Sunday, January 27, 2019 – (11 am – 5 pm)
Los Angeles Convention Center – West Hall
1201 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90015