By Erns Valdez
The Los Angeles County Fair is back and with it comes another great display of art by some of our area’s talented artists. The Millard Sheets Art Center at Fairplex (located near Gate 1) has been part of the fair since 1937, which means it pre-dates LACMA and The Getty. At the time of its creation, it was the premier site to go and see fine art in the Los Angeles area. Today the gallery not only shows art by legendary masters, but also by local artists of all skill levels and mediums. This year’s exhibition for the fair is sure to appeal to all fair goers and should not be missed as the theme is something that impacts us all.
The theme of this year’s show at the Millard Sheets Art Center is "The Art Classic: Oasis” and runs through Sept 25. Last year, The art center created The Art Classic, as its first foray into curating the annual fair exhibition, which had no actual theme but began a partnership with the Los Angeles Art Association that carries through to this year's exhibition. While the previous theme captured the current state of the LA art scene, it left some guests wanting a real impacting theme. This year art center manager Thomas Canavan delivers a hard-hitting show with a theme that impacts everyone.
"We wanted to create an exhibition that was topical, that was relevant and would impact our fair guests at any age and any level interest in the arts," Canavan said. "The theme itself was decided in February. Keep in mind this was to be the year of a big El Nino, so the Oasis theme at that point had a totally different meaning than it does now. The El Nino never came, but the show still carries significance in that water is still such a universally impacting topic for us here in Southern California.
In addition to the main exhibit, The Millard Sheets Arts Center has again partnered with the California Art Club for a secpmd year to feature The Plein Air at the Fair Competition, which will be on display in the back gallery. This exhibit features plein air paintings by 23 artists who developed their pieces from various locations throughout the fairgrounds. The paintings are currently on display and on Saturday, Sept. 10, there will be an awards reception from noon- 2 p.m. for those who participated. If you happen to visit on a Wednesday or Friday, be sure to check out the free art activities offered until noon if you're here taking part in The Learning Center's FairKids program. On Saturdays and Sundays, guests can participate in Clay Play. This year the gallery offers amazing interactive activities and informative material that are sure to be the highlight of many fair goers day.
It's important to note that the Millard Sheets Art Center has year-round workshops, exhibitions and professional art instruction. This is truly a large-scale community art center. It not only offers all of the above for adults of all skill levels, but also to local youth who need these resources because they have become cut in many public schools and city-run centers. In fact, The Millard Sheets Art Center focuses heavily on youth activities, exhibitions and opportunities. We will return once the fair has ended to provide a full scope of offered programs and events that go on throughout the year.
When you walk into the Millard Sheets Gallery, be sure to get a new brochure, where you’ll find not only information on the current exhibit but also more information about year-round programs, workshops and opportunities for artists and the community. Do yourself a favor and take a moment to read the section on the gallery's history. It will give an appriciation for the building and its mission.
Canavan has not only done a brilliant job executing a well-themed show in the main gallery, but he has also extended the theme to the outdoor courtyard, which hosts drought-tolerent plants, photography and sculptures. One addition to the patio space is the Twisted Sage Cafe, making it the perfect place to catch a quite bite to eat. The Cafe is open Friday-Sundays from noon-8 p.m.
One thing that stood out in this year’s display is the inclusion of prices on the artwork. It's important to note that museums and galleries often earn much-needed funds by the sales of original art work, as well as on prints and other goods. Often when artwork is for sale in a gallery there is a posted pricelist or you have to hunt it down. The prices were deliberately added this year to show guests the value of these works and make the information accessible to anyone interested in owning original artwork. Purchasing artwork -- be it an original or a print -- supports local artists and arts venues so that they can continue to create and share these works with the public. The Millard Sheets Art Center has a great art market located near the entrance and is stocked with some amazingly affordable pieces.
For more information on the Millard Sheets Art Center visit www.millardsheetartcenter.org .
For a downloadable map of the LA County Fair, CLICK HERE. To make your travel and parking easier, jump on the Metrolink Train and get off at the Pomona Metrolink Station. From there you can catch the Line 190 bus from the train station directly to Fairplex.