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by Bill Lasarow

The formation of the Fine Art Dealers Association (FADA) in 1990 was not an artworld bombshell at the time, but it has gradually grown into a respectable force. Its mission is to uphold professional standards, mainly as it relates to the business ethics of its member galleries. It provides services such as professional seminars, restoration and preservation projects, and, of course, sponsors the L.A. Art Show.

The L.A. Art Show was launched on a very modest scale in 1995--all of sixteen galleries participated. With the opening of the John Wooden Center facility on the campus of UCLA in 1997 the Art Show jumped in with nearly forty participating galleries, increasing the number up to fifty last year and this. Although national in scope--there will be galleries from eleven states--three-fourths hail from California, New York, and New Mexico.

In aesthetic terms this is a traditionalist event and organization. Perhaps the most notable contribution of FADA has been to provide dealers primarily handling pre-WW II fine art with a platform to present a range of historical styles in a serious context. The key to this working is twofold: the quality and reliability of the art must be very high, and it must shed fresh light on art’s evolution into the modernist and contemporary periods that have dominated the late 20th century. The evidence of recent Art Shows is that both issues are being addressed, the first aggressively, the latter more haltingly and uncertainly. For the most part both FADA and the L.A. Art Show are platforms for respectably conservative taste, and this is not meant as a criticism. Indeed, this helps move forward the thorny consideration of what is important in art and why since the first emergence of an avant garde nearly a century-and-a-half ago.

More simply, the L.A. Art Show also marks the resuscitation and rise of a category of art dealing that had fallen into something of a chasm during the decades following the world wars.

As the avant garde became more and more dominant, traditional styles and movements suffered a corresponding decline in influence. Interest in them for a time was relegated to a commercialized ghetto marked by a debased content and flashy imitation of traditional painting, and the highly restricted golden ghetto of Old Master painting. Both are still with us, but the former especially is on the whole absent here.

Paul-Desire Trouillebert (French,
1829-1900), "Crossing the River," o/c.

Philip Reinagle (British, 1749-1833),
"Snipe Shooting," o/c, 15 x 20 1/2".

Raphaélle Goethals, "The
Imposition of Thought," encaustic
on wood, 60 x 48".

The need for credible dealers who could exhibit and sell this type of art began to change with the formation of FADA precisely because is provided common ground for those dealers already active in or drawn to handling this type of art. Thus the L.A. Art Show and FADA itself play an important, perhaps crucial, role in what is now an upward trajectory. The quality of the art and the integrity of the dealers are very much bound up with one another.

Oh yes, the L.A. Art Show will begin with a Benefit Opening Reception on Thursday, September 23 from 6-10pm. Tickets are $100 per person, with proceeds supporting the UCLA Medical Center’s Medical Arts Program. Regular Show hours are September 24, 2 to 8pm; September 25, 11am to 7pm; and September 26, 11am to 5pm. Admission in $10 per day, or $15 for all three days (the Show catalogue is included); tickets are available at the door. For further information contact Show organizer K.R. Martindale Show Management, PO Box 1043, Santa Fe, New Mexico, tel. (505) 747-0611, fax (505) 747-0511.