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Photo Synthesis

Art Notes: Photo L.A. returns this year with more than 3,000 pictures from 40 galleries and private dealers--and some words of advice too.

January 11, 1998|Suzanne Muchnic | Suzanne Muchnic is The Times' art writer

In a city that's better known for being on the move than honoring traditions, Photo L.A. is something of an anomaly. Now in its seventh year--and scheduled to appear at Butterfield & Butterfield from Friday through next Sunday--the annual photography fair has succeeded in attracting a varied but consistently well-regarded group of vendors and a loyal audience.

Organized by Los Angeles photography dealer Stephen Cohen, Photo L.A. is back this year with 40 galleries and private dealers from across the United States. They will present more than 3,000 photographs, ranging from vintage works by 19th century pioneers to the latest creations of today's cutting-edge artists. Among well-known figures represented are Ansel Adams, Diane Arbus, Edward Curtis, Michael Kenna, Irving Penn, Weegee and Danny Lyon.

The main event is the exhibition and sale, open to the public Friday, 3-7 p.m.; Saturday, noon-7 p.m.; and Sunday, noon-6 p.m. Admission is $10 for one day and $15 for a three-day pass.

But the fair is also an occasion for educational programs and social events for the photography crowd. Kicking off this year's affair, filmmaker and artist David Lynch will host a preview reception to benefit DIFFA/Photographers+Friends United Against AIDS on Thursday, 6-9 p.m. Tickets, at $35, can be ordered by phone: (310) 652-6601.

MOCA Contemporaries, the Museum of Contemporary Art's young professionals support council, will host a cocktail reception Friday at 7 p.m. Also priced at $35 a ticket, the event will feature a panel discussion on collecting photography, with Amanda Doenitz, director of Butterfield & Butterfield's photography department; Los Angeles dealer Paul Kopeikin, photographer James Fee and collector Fred Reisz. Information: (213) 621-1703.

Three seminars on collecting photography are also scheduled. Curator and writer Peter Hay Halpert will lead a session Friday at noon, followed by Sandra Phillips, curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Saturday at 10 a.m., and curator and lecturer W.M. Hunt, Sunday at 10 a.m. Each seminar costs $45, including a three-day pass to the fair.

Butterfield & Butterfield is located at 7601 Sunset Blvd. Information: (213) 937-5525.

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BYE-BYE, BABY BERGAMOT; HELLO, WILSHIRE: The dilapidated Santa Monica building known as Baby Bergamot--because of its proximity to the Bergamot Station art gallery complex--is destined for demolition and redevelopment, but that's not the end of three galleries that have resided there. Dan Bernier, Mark Foxx and Acme, the latter run by Randy Sommer and Robert Gunderman, are moving to a new gallery complex at 6150 Wilshire Blvd, just west of Fairfax. The two-story building, owned by former state senator and arts advocate Alan Sieroty, will open Jan. 31 with five galleries: the Baby Bergamot trio plus new galleries founded by Christine Nichols and Brent Petersen.

"We're excited," Gunderman said of the move. "But it makes us a little nervous." Compared to the galleries' rather rustic home in Santa Monica's industrial district, the Wilshire building--which formerly housed a Lanz women's apparel shop--is "a little fancy for us," he said. But the dealers are making the most of their unaccustomed luxury. "I tell everyone we're nestled between the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and PaceWildenstein and Gagosian galleries in Beverly Hills," Gunderman said.

The inaugural attention-grabber at the new complex is likely to be Bernier's opening show, "Loud House," an ambitious installation by Martin Kersels that can be seen through a window on Wilshire. The Los Angeles-based artist is building a cottage that will sit on springs and fill most of the gallery. As the springs move, the house will shake, rattling glassware on interior shelves and probably causing a few casualties.

In a quieter vein, Acme will open with two large, site-specific works by photographer Uta Barth. Foxx will christen his new digs with works by conceptual artist Frances Stark. Nichols will launch her space, Works on Paper, Inc., with a show of Martin Kippenberger's work. Petersen, co-owner with Mark Grotjahn of Room 702, a gallery in Hollywood, will open with a collaboration between Jason Meadows and Jorge Pardo.

Other developments are in the works. Artist and furniture maker Roy McMakin, who furnished offices at the new J. Paul Getty Museum in Brentwood, plans to open a showroom on the first floor in March or April. The building's upstairs office space is expected to be leased to art-related businesses.

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ART IN THE SKY: Advertisements for the new Getty Center hang from street posts all across Los Angeles, but they aren't the only art banners in town. Fourteen West Hollywood art dealers have joined forces to promote their area with a "Sky Gallery" displaying 28 banners bearing images by artists whose work is shown in the galleries.

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