When Frieze Los Angeles opens its 2023 edition on Thursday morning, it will appear in a new location, at the Santa Monica Airport. This new site has allowed the fair to expand in scale, with its Focus section for emerging galleries and artists having grown to 19 exhibitors, up from 11 last year.
This year’s section will again be curated Amanda Hunt, who departed the forthcoming Lucas Museum of Narrative Art to join the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 2022. Organized with co-curator Sonya Tamaddon, the Focus section will also shift this year from being a spotlight on LA-based galleries to ones from anywhere in the country.
“This year was really about expanding the reach and sense of community as much as possible,” Hunt told ARTnews in an emailed interview. “Always prioritizing the talents in Los Angeles for its hometown fair, but in consideration of some of the amazing folks (artists, dealers) working on other coasts and in other states across the country, with deep reaches into international conversations.”
After the 2022 edition wrapped, Hunt realized that there were some important gallery programs, including Kristina Kite, Nonaka Hill, and Paul Soto/Park View, that she wanted to include in the previous iteration. “All are beloved in Los Angeles, and always have such fresh ideas, practices, stories to share,” she said.
And with her new role at the Walker, where she is head of public engagement, learning, and impact, she also wanted to feature Dreamsong, a gallery in Milwaukee. “My context and present always informs my work, so it was natural and a joy to bring some of the local stars along with me. I want Minneapolis to have an opportunity to be considered a destination, an arts destination of its own,” she added.
The participating galleries in the section are a mix of newer collaborators, like Dreamsong and Nonaka Hill, as well as enterprises that Hunt has had longstanding relationships with, like Anat Ebgi, Regular Normal, and Chris Sharp, who lend a certain amount of “trust” to the presentation Hunt and Tamaddon have produced. “There were some exciting risks we took with other, newer players, which is always how to do it. Trust the people who make or support great work,” Hunt said.
For its part, Regular Normal will present a two-artist showing of Melissa Joseph and Bony Ramirez, whose work deals with identity and heritage, while Paul Soto/Park View will offer two large-scale paintings by Kate Spencer Stewart and a suite of gelatin silver photographs by Mark McKnight. Participating for the first time and showing work by Larry Cook and Mojdeh Rezaeipour is Chela Mitchell Gallery, which Hunt described as “coming in hot from Washington, DC. What a joy and a champion of her artists.”
Plus, Hunt added, “with me you’re always going to see some kind of really chunky, sensual, heavy-handed ceramics—wait for Sophie Walquist’s insanity [courtesy of Baert Gallery]. I love that medium’s relationship to the earth, the body, the form, scale.”
Though some curator-organized sections at fairs have specific themes and focuses, Hunt’s has a through-line that extends through her own curatorial practice. “I always prioritize BIPOC voices and contributions in my work as a curator and programmer, and Focus is no exception,” she said. “Sonya and I really crafted a space that highlighted dialogue between artists, and artists in dialogue with some very real-world issues that speak to our current moment in racial justice and in Iran, as examples.”