Art Travels, Because We Can’t: An LA Exhibit Goes to Tokyo

Despite the fact that none of us have really been able to go anywhere or do anything for rather awhile now, the art world has been impressively proactive in continuing to explore new options for putting art in front of our gloom-ridden faces. From New York to Miami and even Los Angeles, galleries haven’t stopped launching shows – either virtually or with limited capacity – throughout this insidious, culture-crushing pandemic.

As a recent visit to The Met reminded us – as we veritably shed a tear in front of a particularly inspiring Monet – we have been starved for culture. And being in the presence of great art has a way of healing the most beaten down soul. So, you know…bravo to the galleries and museums. 

Dedicated to being a part of the healing is West Coast curator and consultant Chelsea Rana, whose namesake art advisory is currently hosting an ambitious show of new and semi-established LA artists all the way across the Pacific…at Tokyo’s MAKI Gallery. The show, pithily titled L.A: Views (up through January 16), presents the work of 16 mostly painters, some in mixed media, with the primary goal of introducing American art to the Japanese market while still in show mode. Typically Japanese patrons would have to wait for a much higher priced auction before being able to consider a purchase. 

The names, from Greg Ito to Lily Stockman to JPW3, may not be of the household variety yet, although they’re certainly familiar to those who have been trawling the LA art scene. But the work is at times raw, others provocative, with the likes of Craig Cucia and Hilary Pecis projecting an earnest, folkiness that is immediately captivating.

“Many of the artists in the show are early to mid-career,” Rana explains, “so Japanese collectors are getting early exposure to these artists that they wouldn’t have otherwise. By the time an artist has work in an auction, their prices are already quite high, which excludes many would-be-collectors.”

The venue itself, located in the Shibuya City district of the capital, was also vital to the success of the show.

MAKI Gallery is perfect for this exhibition,” she enthuses. “I say this not only because I have known and worked with the founders for quite some time, but also because it is very forward-thinking and highly-esteemed, with collectors looking to them for early talent.”

It’s a good bet that Rana’s concept wont be a one-off, as dealers and galleries attempt to overcome the logistical challenges of on and off quarantines, and shifting priorities. Stay tuned.

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