The Other Art Fair: A Place Where Art is For Everyone
Words and Photos by Ursula Vari
Over the weekend, artists and art lovers from all walks of life gathered at The Other Art Fair presented by Saatchi, the art world’s leading online gallery. The historic Barker Hangar at the Santa Monica Airport turned into a global gathering of creative minds where established and emerging artists could share their passion with curious novices and art connoisseurs alike. “Here art is for everyone” a statement shared by the Saatchi team on their website lived up to its truth.
The Other Art Fair became an exciting and immersive discovery for everyone, where toddlers ran around with their make-believe cameras, where service dogs behaved themselves, and where merry visitors walked away with their treasured, first piece of art. With open-edition prints starting at $100 and limited editions around $300, art became accessible to everyone. “Sales have been really good. Thursday was the busiest day, the line was a couple of booths down,” shared Maxfield who works at curatorial and was helping wrap some of the pieces that have found their forever homes. Amidst lively DJ tunes, there was space to wonder and conversation to be had with artists excited to talk about their process and their passion. “The Other Art Fair is extremely inspiring,” said Agnès Penot, who is an art historian, and appraiser, and holds a PHD. “I especially appreciate the direct connections with the artists,” she explained.
“It has been very enjoyable,” shared Ruth Nagenda,a Santa Monica resident about her experience. “I have seen some very interesting art” she concluded describing her experience at the art fair in an excited tone. For artists, the fair has been a wonderful opportunity to bring their work to a larger audience. Artists came from all around the world, some from Italy, some from the UK and many shared the same sentiment as Liz Bretz, a conceptual portraiture photographer based in Downtown LA “I am really fortunate to be a part of this, I feel like they really respect and look out for the artist” referring to her experience exhibiting at The Other Art Fair. There were many highlights among the 140 artists exhibiting and below are a few that stood out with their work, talking about their process and insight at the fair.
Francesca Borgo flew in from the small town of Treviso, Italy. A radiant woman, she channels peace, contentment, and the joy of life not only through her smile but through her abstract landscapes.
Francesca, what inspires you?
I am inspired by almost everything that moves gently. Could be waves, could be birds flying, could be lines of mountains for me, or meadows and grass. Very simple things that connect me to nature.
What has your experience been like at this art fair?
I love this fair. It’s the first time I’m here in LA and I really love the vibes. The first two days were amazing and I’m very happy about how my art is being received by people and how they relate to it. It really means a lot to me. I made a few sales, and also one very big one and it all paid for the trip.
Liz Bretz is a conceptual portraiture photographer who lives and works out of her photo studio in Downtown Los Angeles.
Liz, what is your process like?
A lot of my inspiration comes from deep-seated feelings that I just need to release and a lot of it is looking for the right model so I do a lot of casting calls to find somebody that will evoke the sort of feeling that I am trying to find and then it comes down to photographing the individual and spending time with them.
What inspires you?
Everything in the world under the sun, I find inspiration everywhere. It's hard for me to narrow it down.
What has your experience been like at this art fair?
This is the second The Other Art Fair that I have done, the first one was during Covid. It’s been an incredible experience, and I am actually really fortunate to be a part of this, I feel like they really respect and look out for the artist and I just love being out in the world and talking to people. You know as artists we isolate ourselves, and we work very alone all the time, so to be out and about and to meet people it’s just the best part about all of it.
How have the sales been? The sales have been great. This is the first time that I brought out small prints, like little loose sleeves and I think that was a great choice. People are really attracted to the work but aren’t necessarily in the market for the bigger pieces, so having those has been really great. I just sold the largest piece this morning and I have a whole lot of interest in two of the larger pieces.
PAUL FUENTES PHOTO
A Native of Mexico City, Paul Fuentes currently lives in London with his wife, Ilse, who helps manage and curate Fuentes’ work. “It’s really collaborative. He is the heart behind it, and I am the lungs and the brain behind things,” she described her role in their process. As a fine art photographer, Fuentes creates a nostalgic Mid-century feel with unexpected humor and excitement by layering his pieces with classic cars or animals.
Paul, what inspires you? Happiness. The palm trees, the sun, my wife, tigers, nature, architecture. Everything inspires me really.
What has your experience been like at this art fair? I love to be here because you meet other artists, you meet people, you meet the customers, and you understand what is the conversation behind an artwork. It’s just nice to be here and see different things that we normally don’t see at home.
Did your work translate into any sales? Yes, sales have been good. We sold to many different types of people. Open editions, signed limited editions for kids, for older people. We sold about 4 to 5 signed limited editions and open editions approximately 25.
Silvia Poloto is a mixed-media artist. A native of Brazil, she arrived in San Francisco in the mid-nineties. “. I came to work as an engineer and I became an artist. I have been making art since.” Her passion for her art is evident in the depth of her eyes when she speaks about her work. “I have been a full-time artist for at least 20 years.” Her thought-provoking and soul-piercing pieces require time, attention, and contemplation. One of the highlights of the show, her sizable pieces are timeless.
What inspires you? Everything inspires me. My life experiences, the places I have been to, and the people that I meet. But when I start making something, sometimes it is specific. But for each body of work, it’s a different process.
What has your experience been like at this art fair? It has been good. I have made some good contacts. My work is not for everybody. So a lot of people glaze over it. But then there is the one person who comes and says “Oh my God, this is the best thing ever”. But I’m used to it and I wouldn’t expect everybody to like my work. This is my first time at the fair. What I wanted to do - because my work has been abstract forever - last year, I started doing figurative. The galleries that represent my work, all represent the abstract. I wanted to put this type of work in front of a bigger audience, so that’s why I decided to come. And it has been positive, but it’s not something that is an easy sale. I haven’t made any sales yet, but there are some very good leads that I think are very serious. Someone said that he was coming back tomorrow, he was here on Thursday and he already wrote to me. There was a curator from UCLA who wants to use some of this work. So, it’s good. It might take a while, but at the same time, it all leads to more exposure.
Maja Planinac is a San Francisco-based fine art photographer with a focus on surreal self-portraits.
What inspires you? I make photographs of how I feel inside, so these are all self-portraits. Half of my work is overlaying different images, in order to visualize how I feel and half of my work is done with real objects that I hide my head with, in order for the viewers to have space for themselves. What has your experience been like at this art fair? This is my first fair in LA. I haven’t made any sales yet. It’s been a great experience. I’m happy to be here and most likely I will come back.
Dawn Beckles flew in from London for The Other Art Fair. “It’s a long way, but it was definitely worth it. This is my third time here” she shared with a wide smile.
Dawn, what is your process like? I paint still life paintings and interior paintings based on items that people collect in their homes and then I try to bring them to the Forefront and show them in different ways and then in my interior pieces I create spaces based on individuals I have in my head and how I think they would set up their home and then I have messages written inside the abstract pieces I have on the walls in those interior paintings, so they are paintings within paintings.
What has your experience been like at this art fair? The Fair for me has been really good, it opens me up to a wider audience and gives me access to the people in the US, specifically in LA, and it gives you access to more curators and more galleries that are based here and that’s why I want to do it, I wanted to get my work further than the UK. I also made some sales and it paid for my trip.
See below for more images of the art fair:
Thank you to Saatchi art for an inspiring fair and to all the artists for their talent and open hearts to share their gift with all of us.