Last weekend, if you followed the 101 freeway to a winding road near Malibu in verdant Agoura Hills, you would have arrived at the Paramount Ranch Art Fair, the quirkiest art event in Los Angeles (perhaps the world?). The second annual iteration of this international art fair brought galleries from Switzerland, Germany, Belgium, and across the United States to Paramount Ranch, a disused Western saloon town movie set.
You heard that right: exhibitors set up shop in barns and dusty depots, erected in the bucolic Agoura landscape by Paramount Studios in 1927 to serve as sets for gunslinging Western films. Josef Strau and Stefan Tcherepnin collaborated on an immersive installation inside the padlocked prison cell of the Sherrif’s outpost, which served as a gallery space for Freedman Fitzpatrick, an L.A. gallery and sponsor of the fair.
Paramount Ranch 2.0 was a casual affair, in marked contrast to the clean quiet of ALAC or the orchestrated chaos of the L.A. Art Book Fair. Most of the work imbued this casual DIY aesthetic, some of it to the point of carelessness. But several galleries stood out. Michael Thibault showed strong work by Sabine Reitmaier, Andrew Greene, and 18+, in a dusty dirt-floor horse stall. Hannah Hoffman displayed several beautiful symbolist paintings by John Finneran. Hacienda of Zurich hung several poignant collages by Heike Karin-Foell above the saloon, where Culver City bar Mandrake served cocktails. Mathew of Berlin showed some carpet pieces and a larger work on canvas by Amy Yao, a favorite of this weekend’s fairs.
In a nod to the illusionism of film culture and digital “world” construction, a few galleries presented artworks which used the whimsical exhibition space as a portal into altogether different settings. Artist collective American Fantasy Classics, represented by Green Gallery of Chicago, transformed a clapboard row house into a dank stone grotto in papier-mache and paint. Highland Park artspace Chin’s Push presented work by Picture Menu. One work involved a series of projections like twisted video games on the wooden walls of a small closet space, filtered through the metal bars of a suspended cage. L.A. gallery Jenny’s exhibited work small glass terrariums with neon galligraphic text, along with a tent-flap sculture levitating on a cushion of air, by Max Hooper Schneider.
The fair also featured several excellent public sculptural installations by big art world names Pentti Monkonnen and Oscar Tuazon. Monkonnen’s familiar, gleeful yet ghoulish faces embedded in vernacular architecture–in this case Chinese pagoda structures–rested against the wooden barns. Tuazon’s work, a wooden platform with a glass roof and a large exposed stovepipe, seemed to imitate the ranch structures, while transforming an inviting domicile into a deadly furnace.