A Brief Guide To This Year's L.A. Art Book Fair


Print is far from dead and the L.A. Art Book Fair is living proof.

Kicking off its fifth year as the West Coast counterpart of the original New York Art Book Fair, the event has grown significantly in size since it first arrived in 2013 at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s Geffen Contemporary.

Both fairs are organized by the arts non-profit Printed Matter, but the L.A. Art Book Fair is rapidly shedding its reputation as the lesser-known of the two events, and the proof is in the numbers.

Back in 2013, curator Shannon Cane was told to expect approximately 5,000 people during the L.A. Art Book Fair’s inaugural weekend. “Well, we got 5,000 people on opening night,” Cane said in an interview with the L.A. Times. “It was a crazy thing we just didn’t expect.” This year’s turnout is expected to be its largest yet, with upwards of 35,000 people anticipated to descend upon Little Tokyo throughout the fair’s three-day residency.

With 350 exhibitors from 30 countries, attendees can easily spend the full weekend pursuing the fair’s extensive selection of art books, zines, periodicals, talks, performances, and more. While wandering aimlessly through the Geffen Contemporary has its own benefits, here are some highlights you won’t want to miss.

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Teen Angels

Think of the Teen Angels exhibit as a relic of pre-social media era communication. The eponymous zine, which was launched in 1981 by a writer and illustrator for Lowrider, was dedicated to exploring the evolving cholo culture. Only available for purchase in mom-and-pop supermarkets and liquor stores, the zine allowed Chicanos to stay connected with nearby communities through its documentation of politics, fashion, cars, and art. Teen Angels flourished in the 80s and through the 90s, halting in 2000 when the artist behind the project stopped producing issues (and effectively disappeared behind his long-held anonymity).

David De Baca, a curator of the exhibition and a long-time fan of the zine, eventually found the artist—a white, San Bernardino resident named David Holland, who died in 2015—and now manages parts of Holland’s archives with Bryan Ray Turcotte of the publishing company Kill Your Idols.

Baca and Turcotte are set to discuss Teen Angel's continued influence. Fans can pick up a limited edition book featuring cover art from the first 180 Teen Angels issues.

Friday, 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Women’s Center for Creative Work present Making Art During Fascism

The Women’s Center for Creative Work is a non-profit organization and co-workspace that cultivates year-round programming for L.A.’s feminist community. This weekend they’ll be at the L.A. Art Book Fair to foster discussions on resisting and dismantling the growing presence of fascism through community building and connecting. At WCCW’s booth, visitors will be able to purchase written guides that feature tips for artists making art, and committing to resistance during fascism. All proceeds will benefit the WCCW.

Saturday, 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Nah Fair

The two-year-old Nah Fair is a stone’s throw away from the Geffen Contemporary and features a selection of small-press zines and projects from primarily POC artists who are critical and anti-authoritarian in nature. Nah has the support of local activist organizations like Union de Vecinos, Defend Boyle Heights, and LA Tenants Union and will host talks on “ungovernable feminism,” musical performances, and workshops on the increasingly important world of encrypted communication. Spread the word.

Nah Fair runs Friday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.n. to 9 p.m. at 374 E. 2nd St., in downtown Los Angeles. For more information, visit nah.world.

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FLASH FLASH FLASH

Art-word powerhouse Gagosian Gallery will be teaming with the Hollywood tattoo staple Shamrock Social Club, turning its booth into a full-blown tattoo parlor. After the popularity of the exhibit at the N.Y. Art Book Fair, Gagosian commissioned Kenneth Anger, The Haas Brothers, Mark Mothersbaugh, and Analia Saban to create limited edition tattoos for those who wish to take their art worship to the next level. Each design will only be tattooed six times before being retired, and they'll set you back a cool $250. For those who want something a little less permanent, booklets containing all the artist tattoo designs will be on sale.

Check out the designs and book an appointment here. FLASH FLASH FLASH is located in Booth J.

Sex Magazine x Hard To Read

Asher Penn, founder and editor of New-York based online culture magazine Sex, will be in discussion with contributor Fiona Duncan, speaking on online publishing, interview styles, the evolution of DIY and more. Penn’s recently released anthology of the magazine’s first ten issues through Powerhouse Books will be available for purchase.

Sunday, 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The L.A. Art Book Fair opens Friday at 1 p.m. and runs through Sunday at 6 p.m. at MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary, located at 152 N. Central Ave. in downtown Los Angeles. Admission is free. For more information and programming, visit laartbookfair.net.