What Not to Miss Around Frieze Week Los Angeles 2022

Fair director Christine Messineo surveys the expansive cultural landscape, from major institutional exhibitions to community craft projects

BY Christine Messineo in Frieze Los Angeles , Frieze Week Magazine , Opinion | 14 FEB 22

Before lockdown, and a few weeks before giving birth, I found myself regularly visiting the Beverly Hills Public Library. Sleep was elusive and, to keep myself occupied, I read mysteries and explored the library shelves. Skimming the arts section, I searched for those thin catalogues, the ones held together by two staples along the centerfold, usually produced in the 1970s by smaller institutions; the kind that are easily mislaid, overlooked, or even discarded in a move: and then, decades later, become ridiculously expensive on eBay. I came across one about Joan Brown, an artist from the Bay Area, whose colourful, figurative paintings of pets and patterns I was unfamiliar with. Some online searching also led me to Brown’s strange, spiritual sculptures. Leaving the library, I looked towards the garden and, adjacent to the building almost reminiscent of a palm tree, was a ceramic-tiled, eighteen-foot pillar by the very same Joan Brown. Brown’s The Center Obelisk (1986) is one of many sculptures that form part of an extensive and diverse collection of contemporary art assembled by the city of Beverly Hills, which also includes works by artists from Carol Bove and Yayoi Kusama to Tony Smith.

In a similar way, I hope this edition of Frieze Los Angeles, my first as director, will be a moment to shine a light on what is already here – the institutions that are integral to the cultural landscape of the city – and to make connections.

LaToya Ruby Frazier 2019
LaToya Ruby Frazier, Sherria Duncan, UAW Local 1112, at her kitchen table with her mother Waldine Arrington, her daughter Olivia, and her husband Jason, (23 years in at GM

Lordstown Complex, trim and paint shop)
, Austintown, OH, 2019, gelatin silver print, 51 × 41 cm. Courtesy: © the artist and the California African American Museum

Because they are so often sensitive observers, I find artists have an innate ability to connect others; some of my closest friendships have formed through introductions facilitated by artists. But that work is rarely seen. Giving it a tangible presence, Los Angeles-based artist Tanya Aguiñiga is organizing a section of the fair dedicated to ten local, BIPOC-led not-for-profits. Drawing on her upbringing as a binational citizen, who daily crossed the border for school, in 2016 Aguiñiga founded AMBOS (Art Made Between Opposite Sides) to connect artists, activists and makers in the border region and use craft and art as vehicles for community self-care.

Taking place in the Beverly Hilton’s Wilshire Garden, this section will include organizations such as The People’s Pottery Project, which supports and empowers formerly incarcerated women, trans and non-binary individuals by offering paid training, employment and a creative community. It’s a model of learning at its most powerful. I’m honored that Frieze can be the host for this project and hope it will be a site for art, performance, information sharing and community building.

Jamal Cyrus, Pride Frieze—Jerry White’s Record Shop, Central Avenue, Los Angeles, 2005–2017
Jamal Cyrus, Pride Frieze—Jerry White’s Record Shop, Central Avenue, Los Angeles, 2005–2017, collage on album cover, acrylic paint, plywood, wax, Plexiglas, 3.1 × 3.2 m. Courtesy: © the artist and Inman Gallery, Houston; photograph: Adam Neese

Our Frieze Impact awardees, Mary Baxter, Maria Gaspar and Dread Scott, will finally, after a delay, present their winning projects in-person as part of an exhibition at the fair. The prize, given in partnership with Art for Justice and Endeavor Impact, brings attention to inequity in mass incarceration and the US prison system. This presentation has been a long time coming, but still has such urgency.

There are so many exhibitions not to be missed during LA’s Frieze Week. The Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, helmed by Anne Ellegood, is presenting a solo show by Jamal Cyrus. At the Underground Museum, Helen Molesworth has curated an exhibition of work by the late Noah Davis – the museum’s co-founder and an incredible painter before his untimely death in 2015 – which is sure to be an important and moving event. The Ulysses Jenkins show at the Hammer Museum, the artist’s first major retrospective, should also be significant. The Broad and the Getty Center will each be shining a spotlight on recent acquisitions, including works by Julie Mehretu at the former and pieces by Tourmaline and photographer John Brandon at the latter. There’s more powerful photography on view in the California African American Museum’s LaToya Ruby Frazier exhibition. Over at the Museum of Contemporary Art, ‘Big Heartedness, Be My Neighbor’ showcases the ever-inventive Pipilotti Rist. It’s a thrill when presentations ‘on the gallery grid’ and across the city spark connections. I’m sure you’ll find works by Calida Rawles and Kehinde Wiley at the fair: both are featured in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art’s survey ‘Black American Portraits,’ grouped around Wiley’s and Amy Sherald’s presidential portraits of Barack and Michelle Obama.

Diedrick Brackens, survival is a shrine, not the small space near the limit of life, 2021
Diedrick Brackens, survival is a shrine, not the small space near the limit of life, 2021, cotton and acrylic yarn, 2.3 × 2.5 m. Courtesy: © the artist, Various Small Fires, Los Angeles/Seoul and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Josh Kline will be opening an exhibition at LAXART, one of the integral not for profits in the city. The Los Angeles Visual Arts Coalition, founded amidst the pandemic, aligns many of our small to mid-size visual arts organizations in sustaining their missions and sharing information. Human Resources, JOAN, Los Angeles Nomadic Division and The Mistake Room are just a few of the 27 that are deserving of our attention.

I’m interested in the relationship between art, craft and design, which is so strong in this city. Last summer, I saw a great presentation of design and objects by the platform SIZED, including furniture by Waka Waka studio; I’m excited for the next edition, organized by Alexander May and themed around ikebana, to open in a new space on Western Avenue during Frieze Week. Diedrick Brackens’s woven tapestries are on view at Craft Contemporary: a fantastic Los Angeles space, which is often overlooked.

Wherever Frieze Week takes you, I hope you will find yourself in the same place I was last January: intent on discovery and ready to engage with the expansive cultural landscape of Los Angeles.

This article first appeared in Frieze Week, February 2022 under the headline ‘Jump In’.

Main image: Diedrick Brackens, through the eye unburnt and blameless, 2020, cotton and acrylic yarn, 2.5 × 2.4 m. Courtesy: © the artist, Various Small Fires, Los Angeles/Seoul and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

Christine Messineo is Director of Americas at Frieze. She lives in New York, US.