5 Things You Might Not Know About the LA Art Show

File: A general view of atmosphere and art at the 23rd Annual L.A. Art Show Opening Night Premiere Gala Benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at Los Angeles Convention Center on Jan. 10, 2018 in Los Angeles. (Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

The L.A. Art Show opens tonight and, until Sunday, tens of thousands of artists and art lovers will gather. The show started from humble beginnings a few decades ago, and it's grown to become one of the hottest events in the art world.

Mat Gleason, art curator and owner of the gallery Coagula Curatorial in Chinatown, gave Take Two host A Martinez an insider's guide to why it's an international draw.

1. L.A. used to be a backwater for art shows

The event may be big now, but it wasn't always that way.

"The art world is an old boys' club, and you've got to pay your dues to get in," Gleason said.

The first L.A. Art Show took place in 1994 with 14 galleries and 250 attendees. This weekend, more than 130 galleries and art institutions will take part, and tens of thousands are expected to attend.

That growth is partly driven by the huge buying market in Los Angeles.

"Behind New York, L.A can certainly say that it's the number 2 art market in the world," Gleason claimed. "Hong Kong and London would probably argue with you there, but there is a lot of evidence that L.A. has a lot of galleries, a lot of commercial activity, and is home to a lot of art production."

2. It's open to everyone, but Wednesday night's VIP event is where celebrities and buyers will snatch up pieces for their collections

Buying a ticket to tonight's opening gala (starting at $125) means you'll get to rub elbows with rich people looking to do more than just get a sneak preview — they want to buy something, too.

"It's the one night where 'the money' shows up to the art world," Gleason said. "A big collector coming here buying art, or a curator for a museum — that's a make-or-break moment."

It isn't the biggest art show in the world — events like Art Basel Miami Beach and Art Basel Hong Kong take those honors — but it is more accessible. Sort of.

"The VIP reception at Art Basel is like a billionaires' convention. The VIP reception tonight at the L.A. Art Show will be a millionaires' convention," he said.

3. There are "blue chip" artists like Andy Warhol on display to draw in traditional buyers

You can see works by major artists — and they're up for sale, too.

"There's lots of Warhols in the fair," Gleason said, "but you have to have 'blue chip' art. That attracts the big collectors that maybe don't have a Warhol in their collection just yet."

The side benefit: while they're at it, those buyers might snatch up some works by up-and-coming artists too.

4. There are people who mimic those artists' styles to get a sale

If you don't have the money for a Warhol, you're in luck!

"You'll see about 20 artists pretending to be Warhol," Gleason explained.

It's a business strategy for people to capitalize on a particular artist's style at a cheaper price.

5. Pop surrealism is where it's at

File: A general view of atmosphere and art at the 23rd Annual L.A. Art Show Opening Night Premiere Gala Benefiting St. Jude Children's Research Hospital at Los Angeles Convention Center on Jan. 10, 2018 in Los Angeles. (Gabriel Olsen/Getty Images)

Gleason is sick of pop art personally, but excited by what he's seen so far of pop surrealism.

"That's art with popular images that are easily accessible, and yet there's something weird about them," he said. "There's a great contrast between the people who are just trying to imitate Warhol, and the pop surrealists who are taking ideas of popular culture and pushing them further."