The LA Art Show: A 20-Year History, a Los Angeles Legacy Celebrate Our 20th Anniversary in January 2015

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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 of: 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.  This out-of-the-box thinking has been a hallmark of the show production team, which has consistently developed programming and special exhibition content, that following its debut at the LA Art Show, has grown to acclaim in the international art world.

In recent years, the LA Art Show has become the most internationally diverse art platform in the Western world, bringing in the largest groupings of Korean, Chinese and Japanese galleries outside of Asia.  Beginning in 2010, the LA Art Show has actively developed its international gallery offerings to provide collectors with a unique opportunity, to spot international trends and zeitgeist through art, a medium that has the ability to transcend language.  This keen focus has been a hallmark of the show.

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.” 

The LA Art Show was founded in 1994, with Kim Martindale as general manger, to create a platform to showcase American Regionalism and Historic works.  But, even in its earliest days,  Martindale had a vision to grow the LA Art Show into an internationally significant art fair catering to the unique needs of Los Angeles.  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.

The LA Art Show:  20 Year in the Making


14 galleries exhibiting Historic  & American Regionalism. 250 attendees:  Pasadena Civic Auditorium 


36 galleries:  John Wooden Center, UCLA


40 galleries:  John Wooden Center, UCLA

Show expands to include modern & contemporary work


44 galleries:  John Wooden Center, UCLA 

Opening benefits the Music Center of Los Angeles County


49 galleries, 5 museums:  Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, first art event held at Barker Hanger, launching the destination as a premiere art venue 


75 galleries:  Barker Hangar, addition of numerous supplemental tents to accommodate growing number of exhibitors


Barker Hanger:  115 galleries, 9 museums 

IFPDA Fine Print Fair joins the LA Art Show


108 galleries, 16 museums/art organizations:  Los Angeles Convention Center West Hall

Show expands to 100,000 sq. ft 

LA Art Show’s move to the Los Angeles Convention Center propels the renaissance of downtown Los Angeles and named as the anchor event for Los Angeles Arts Month by the City of Los Angeles

LA Art Show presents LIFE Awards to LA’s leading artists Billy Al Bengston, Ed Moses, Howard Bingham, Betye Saar, and Larry Bell as part of the Getty’s hallmark “Pacific Standard Time” initiative


91 galleries, 27 participating museums/ arts organizations

Venice Biennale artists Raquel Bessio, Juan Burgos, Lacy Duarte, Nelson Ramos, Pablo Uribe Wilfredo Dia Valdes and Ernesto Vila featured in contemporary Uruguayan art exhibit, “34° 53’ 0” S – 56° 10’ 0” W” 

Nick Cave’s “Soundsuit Invasion” debuts in Los Angeles at LA Art Show Opening Night Premiere Party

LA Art Show is the first major art fair to host a street art exhibition featuring live performances by artists Retna, Mear One, Chor Boogie, and El Mac, launching street art into the fine art mainstream


108 galleries, 23 participating museums/arts organizations

More than 20 international galleries from China, Korea, Taiwan, Venezuela, Cuba, Spain, The Netherlands and United Kingdom

Opening Night Premiere Party celebrity host David Arquette

Internationally acclaimed cutting-edge artists Feng Feng, Liu Qing-Yuan, and Qin Jin featured in special exhibit “China Today” in partnership with 53 Art Museum in Guangzhou, China 


100 galleries, 9 participating museums/arts organizations

Opening Night Premiere Party celebrity host Kat von D

Mark Mothersbaugh’s “Scion Car Sculpture” debuts at the LA Art Show before its exhibition at the MOCA, Los Angeles

Damien Hirst’s Butterfly Print Series “The Souls” and Gold Foil Block Skulls “Death or Glory” make California debut

Venice Biennale artist Tong Hongsheng debuts new works at LA Art Show’s “China Pavilion” alongside works by master brush painter Xia Jingshan

Exclusive performance of “The Myths of Rape” with artists Leslie Labowitz-Starus and Suzanne Lacy, in partnership with The Getty’s “Pacific Standard Time” Initiative

LA Art Show acquired by Palm Beach Show Group


Moves to 200,000 sq. ft South Hall in Los Angeles Convention Center 

106 galleries, 5 participating museums/arts organizations

25% of galleries from outside the United States, countries represented at the LA Art Show include Canada, China, Russia, Japan, Spain, Korea, Italy, Germany, Venezuela, Ireland, France, and United Kingdom

LA Art Show on Front Page of the LA Times, the first time in the history of the newspaper that an an art fair has made the front page

Opening Night Premiere Party celebrity host Ali Larter

Opening Night Premiere Party celebrity art ambassador James Franco

“Letters to Los Angeles” debuts as one of the first text-centric art exhibits, curated by Jack Rutberg and featuring artists Lita Albuquerque, John Baldessari, Bill Barminski, Wallace Berman, Chris Burden, Hans Burkhardt, Huguette Caland, Doug Edge, Mark X Farina, Jud Fine, Eve Fowler, Gajin Fujita, Scott Grieger, Mark Steven Greenfield, Raul Guerrero, George Herms, Dennis Hopper, Ed Kienholz, Lynn Hanson, Charles LaBelle, Mark Licari, Michael C. McMillen, Jim Morphesis, Bruce Nauman, Stas Orlovski, David Allan Peters, Paulin Paris, Raymond Pettibon, Lari Pittman, Ken Price, Bruce Richards, Ed Ruscha, Richard Shelton, Alexis Smith, J. Michael Walker, Gordon Wagner, and Tom Wudl

Beijing Biennale winner Andrea Juan of Argentina debuts new video installation “New Species” 

Acclaimed Mexican artist Betsabee Romero of Mexico showcases a selection of her celebrated carved tires and imprints


134 galleries, 16 participating museums/arts organizations

More than 1/3 of galleries from 22 countries including China, Brazil, Cuba, Korea, Taiwan, France, Japan, Spain, Czech Republic, Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Venezuela, Argentina, Denmark, UAE, Hong Kong, Russia, and Mexico

Venice Biennale artist Zhang Yu debuts new “Fingerprints” exhibition before showcasing works at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Venice Biennale Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa debuts new collection of works “The Present of the Century”

Venice Biennale Korean artist Lee Yong Baek presents his 2011 Venice Biennale video installation accompanied by an exclusive live performance

Beijing Biennale Argentine artist Andrea Juan debuts new video installation “Organic 2013” 

LAAS becomes the first major art show to recognize the “Pop Surrealist” art movement with Littletopia gallery section.

The 20th Anniversary Edition of the LA Art Show kicks off with an Opening Night Premiere Party on Wednesday, January 14 and is open to the public from January 15-18, 2015.  General admission is $20. The LA Art Show takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center, South Hall, 1201 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90015.  For additional information about the LA Art Show, please visit

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