Frieze Los Angeles moved to Santa Monica, closer to the sea breezes on the city’s west side and, presumably, to the art-collecting class. In a collaboration between the art fair and the City of Santa Monica, a work has been purchased from the fair’s Focus section for the city’s Art Bank collection. The work is Edgar Ramirez’s Baji (2023), made with house paint and cardboard mounted on canvas, from the stand of Mid City-based Chris Sharp Gallery. He bases his work on signs posted in less affluent neighbourhoods that offer to fix credit or buy homes, and overlays them with paint and strips away part of the surface.
The acquisition was decided on by a committee of three, including Deepa Subramanian, a member of the Santa Monica Arts Commission. “My chief goal was to select a work with the highest artistic merit,” she says. Her other considerations “were for the work to resonate with the city of Santa Monica and also fall within the aesthetic landscape of the Art Bank collection of the City. Ramirez’s works are contemporary, impactful and an aesthetic expression of the hard-hitting facts that plague urban life.” The work was acquired for $11,000, with Frieze and the city splitting the cost.
The fair’s Focus section is devoted to galleries in business for 12 years or less, which often feature younger artists and more experimental work. Criteria for the acquisition included that the work had to be by an artist based in Southern California and reflected “the diverse lived experiences of artists from our region”, according to a city announcement. The other two jurors were Christine Messineo, Frieze’s director for the Americas, and Anne Ellegood, the executive director of Los Angeles’s Institute of Contemporary Art.
Santa Monica’s Art Bank collection was founded in 1984 and now tallies more than 200 works in a gamut of media, by artists such as Laura Aguilar, Lita Albuquerque, Kerry James Marshall and Linda Vallejo. The art is placed in public spaces throughout Santa Monica.