The weekend of February 11 – 14 turns Los Angeles into a paradise for photobook lovers. Two book fairs descend on the city: Printed Matter’s LA Art Book Fair at the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in downtown Los Angeles and the 49th California International Antiquarian Book Fair at the Pasadena Convention Center just northeast of downtown. Completely different fairs, each offers the opportunity to browse books from publishers and dealers from around the world. More geared towards the contemporary fine art community, the LA Art Book Fair – the manageable “little sister” of the behemoth NY Art Book Fair – presents photobooks, artists’ books, art catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines from over 250 international presses, booksellers, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers. The California International Antiquarian Fair caters to rare book collectors with offerings from over 300 antiquarian dealers specializing in valuable photobooks, art books, manuscripts, autographs, graphics, and photographs. Both fairs have an array of lectures and special events.
But don’t limit your LA visit to the fairs. If you dare, brave the freeways and visit some of the wonderful photography exhibitions, bookstores and galleries in other areas of Los Angeles. Listed below by neighborhood are a few suggestions to help combat book fair fatigue. Click here for a Google map with all locations.
West LA: Brentwood / Bel-Air
Museum: Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows and The Younger Generation: Contemporary Japanese Photography at the Getty Center (1200 Getty Center Drive). These two concurrent exhibitions bring to American audiences some of the most interesting work by contemporary Japanese women photographers. Ishiuchi Miyako: Postwar Shadows is a thoughtfully researched retrospective that presents Hasselblad Award winner Ishiuchi’s distinctive vision of time and surface filtered through memory. The Younger Generation, a smaller companion exhibition that immediately follows the retrospective, brings together five mid-career Japanese women photographers: Kawauchi Rinko, Onodera Yuki, Otsuka Chino, Sawada Tomoko, and Shiga Lieko. Emerging in the late 1990s, the women in this show reaffirm the depth, diversity and performative nature of current photographic practice in Japan.
Food and Notes:
The Getty Center requires that you leave your car in a parking lot ($15) and board a free tram to the museum perched on the hillside above. The views from the Getty campus are spectacular.
Try to arrive early. The museum can get crowded with school groups. If you are heading to the Getty from the south via the 405 Freeway, take a quick detour to gas up at the Chevron station at the corner of N. Sepulveda Blvd. and Moraga Dr. Just behind the station is The Shack in the Back (622 N. Sepulveda Blvd.), a non-descript shed that serves up strong coffee and delicious breakfast burritos. For the true LA experience either sit at one of their two outdoor tables facing the gas station and the freeway or eat in your car!
Santa Monica, Venice and Culver City
Galleries: Located in a cluster of repurposed industrial spaces not far from the Cloverfield Blvd. exit of the 10 Freeway, Bergamot Station (2525 Michigan Avenue, Santa Monica) is a “one stop” gallery complex. Park your car and spend an hour or two wandering among the numerous galleries that surround the parking lot and soon to be operational 26th Street / Bergamot metro station (hello, public transportation!). Among the more than 30 galleries are a number of interesting photography shows on view. Stop in at Rose Gallery to browse their book selection and see their group show Her First Meteorite: Volume 2. Other photography shows of interest are: Ron Jude at Gallery Luisotti; Julian Wasser: Duchamp in Pasadena at Berman Gallery; Jeff Wall at Patrick Painter; and New York at Night at Duncun Miller. While at Bergamot, take a break from the galleries and visit Hiromi Paper for incredible handmade papers and bookmaking supplies.
Food: For a quick bite while at Bergamot Station, check out the complex’s Bergamot Café. Refuel with a salad or sandwich under an umbrella on their spacious patio. If you have more time and want a treat, head further south for a spectacular farm to table meal at The Rose Cafe (220 Rose Avenue, Venice). Their black and white pizza is memorable. Also try their umami flavored wakame spaghettini.
Bookstore: Looking to check out more books, head to Arcana (8675 Washington Blvd, Culver City), where a strong photography selection can be found at this art, design and cinema bookshop.
Mid-Wilshire / La Brea
Museum: Don’t miss west coast photographer Catherine Opie’s O Portfolio on view in its entirety at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art / LACMA (5905 Wilshire Blvd, LA). A feminine response to Robert Mapplethorpe’s provocative X Portfolio of male sadomasochistic practices, Opie’s work trades more on intimacy than on explicit sexuality. (Two other Catherine Opie exhibitions are on view in LA: Portraits at UCLA’s Hammer Museum and 700 Nimes Road at MOCA Pacific Design Center.)
Bookstores: While at the museum, also visit The LACMA Store for a decent selection of contemporary photobooks. Spotted in their inventory were books by west coast favorites John Divola and Shannon Ebner. Also located within the LACMA campus is Art Catalogues at LACMA, an LA institution since 1977 that specializes in contemporary and out-of-print art and photography books. Many signed and limited editions can be found here.
Gallery: In need of a 1960s –‘70s Japanese conceptual art and photography fix? Stop by Kayne Griffin Corcoran Gallery (1201 S. La Brea Avenue, LA) to see Jiro Takamatsu’s exhibition of sculptures, paintings, drawings and photographs.
Food: A La Brea area favorite for breakfast, lunch or a snack is The Sycamore Kitchen Bakery and Café (143 S. La Brea Avenue, LA). It is hard to resist their amazingly fresh food and baked goods.
Downtown LA (DTLA)
Gallery: Located just over the Los Angeles River from DTLA, heading towards Boyle Heights, is the new home of Little Big Man Gallery and Books (1427 E 4th Street, Unit 4, LA). On Saturday, February 13th, sneak out of the art book fair at the Geffen Contemporary a bit early to attend the opening reception for photographer Scot Sothern’s Streetwalkers exhibition of Skid Row prostitutes shot since the 1970s. While you’re there, pick up a copy of his new book of the same title, which juxtaposes many of the show’s photographs of streetwalkers in cheap motels and on burnt-out street corners with Sothern’s stories.
Food: Not far from the Geffen Contemporary in the DTLA Arts District is Blacktop Coffee (826 E. 3rd Street, LA). Pick up an awesome cup of coffee with an order of avocado toast and head outside to the patio to soak up some of the local Arts District flavor. Want more options? Head to Grand Central Market (317 S. Broadway, LA), where you can grab some of the best local LA food offerings. (My LA food source* advises skipping the line at the Eggslut and heading straight for Bruce Kalman’s Knead & Co. Pasta Bar and Market.)
Glendale (Atwater Village)
Books: A bit out of the way, but worth the detour, Alias Books East (3163 Glendale Blvd, Glendale) is a local used bookstore with an excellent selection of art and photography titles. Spotted on their shelves were copies of Steidl / Edition 7L’s The Japanese Box and Thomas Mailender’s Illustrated People (2015 ParisPhoto-Aperture Best Photobook of the Year winner). If I remember correctly, it may have even been signed!
Food: There are no shortage of food and coffee options on Glendale Blvd. For a quick and tasty taco or breakfast burrito, try Tacos Villa Corona (3185 Glendale Blvd), a hole-in-the-wall counter with a line out front. For a sit down meal, walk a few doors down to Bon Vivant Market & Cafe (3155 Glendale Blvd).