StARTup Art Fair supports the community of independent artists

Los Angeles has long been revered as the center of innovative art. All types of artists — graphic designers, virtual reality artists and traditional painters — make pilgrimages to the vibrant city to participate in the latest, most cutting-edge ways to display and appreciate art. One of the most successful of these artistic ventures, the stARTup Art Fair, supports independent artists, entering its second year at Highland Gardens Hotel in Hollywood from Jan. 27 to Jan. 29.

Co-founded in 2015 by USC alumnus Steve Zavattero, the stARTup Art Fair focuses on bringing the community together and fostering an appreciation for independent artists. Consequently, the artists keep all of their sales’ proceeds to support their artistic endeavors.

“Our intimate, boutique fair provides artists and art enthusiasts with direct access to the art world, fostering new relationships and creating an unparalleled exhibition platform for thought-provoking contemporary artwork in the entertainment capital of the country,” the stARTup website states.

The stARTup Art Fair works to give access to independent, California-based artists who may not be able to afford or gain access to elite galleries. The event emphasizes a fair admission process, implementing a blind jury system to select the artists to be featured in the fair. The jury is comprised of several L.A. artists, art journal contributors and gallery owners from the area.

“We didn’t want this to be a pay-for-play situation, where someone just ponies up $5,000 and they get in,” said Ray Beldner, co-founder of the stARTup Art Fair, to the Los Angeles Times.

Over the course of three days, the fair will host several exhibitions as well as “art conversations,” panels about topics relating to contemporary art. One panel, titled, “Rhizomatic Arts: The Hybrid Practice: Art & Entrepreneurship,” is a discussion between four artists who support their crafts as freelancers or creative business owners. The entrepreneurs and artists tackle the topic of maintaining a steady art practice while implementing business strategies within their own creative communities.

“The panelists will discuss different shapes artistic careers might take and how one leverages their skills as artists to make an impact or fill a need outside the studio,” the description states online.

Another conversation, titled “The Collectivists,” focuses on the power and impact that artists can have if they unite to create lasting change.   

“The current surge of standout artist-run spaces has become a democratic movement; and en masse, artist collectives are challenging the established hierarchy of how the gallery system and commerce function in the art world,” according to the description online.

In addition to the traditional exhibits and panels, the fair has partnered with several non-profits and art centers, such as 18th Street Arts Center, to present four curated rooms. Fifty percent of ticket sales will also be donated to Lancaster Museum of Art and History, the stARTup Art Fair’s beneficiary museum this year.

The stARTup Art Fair attracts several art experts from around the L.A. area, including art tarot reader Alexia Lewis, director and head curator of the Torrance Art Museum Max Presneill and GYST radio host Kara Tomé.

Update: This post has been updated to reflect that the stARTup Art Fair was co-founded by USC alumnus Steve Zavattero.