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Open doors at Los Angeles Art Week | Culture

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Narrow stairs lead to the second floor of Keith Rivers’ residence in an elegant hillside area of ​​Beverly Hills. The first thing you see when you reach the level is a large brick wall in various shades of gray. The blocks are drawn on two thick sheets of paper. They form a perfect order, rare in real-life partitions. The work is by Tony Lewis, an African-American Los Angeles artist who lives in Chicago and uses the themes of power, race, and lower-class work in his creations. He began mapping to stimulate the process at a time where he felt he had hit a wall conceptually. Placing one brick on top of another gave him serenity.

Rivers owns the drawing and found in it an echo of his past life. “I love this work because it is an exercise in repetition. Doing a process over and over again to complete something bigger. And that was American football for me. Repeat a play over and over again with a goal,” says Rivers, 37, who played professionally for the Cincinnati Bengals, New York Giants and Buffalo Bills.

He is a rare collector. His first acquisition, in 2010, was one of the pink versions of the Electric Chair by Andy Warhol. The former athlete admits that he then thought that he needed a big name to start collecting art. Over time, however, he realized that was not the case. He has been developing his own taste and knowledge.

The table in the center of your library reflects much of that learning process. There are books on the influential body paintings of David Hammons, one on Brazilian portraits, a monograph on Lucas Arruda, and another on the art of Californian John Baldessari, a great figure in American conceptual art. There is also a worn copy of a book written by art historian Robert Farris Thompson on African American art and philosophy.

Rivers opened the doors of her home during Los Angeles Art Week. Artists, gallery owners, cultural promoters and collectors were able to see the works under the roof of his house on Doheny Avenue. In his residence there are just a couple of nods to his previous activity, dedicated to brute force. The painting that presides over his room, however, does have a sporting reference. Artist Cyprien Gaillard placed the enormous design of the Cleveland Indians baseball team, the caricature of Indian Chief Wahoo, on a withered, uninhabited landscape. In 2018, Cleveland retired the shield under pressure from fans and new sensibilities.

An alumnus of the University of Southern California (USC), Rivers lent his residency to the rival think tank, the University of California San Diego (UCSD). There is one of the most important private collections of sculptural art in the United States. Twenty artists exhibit works that are distributed throughout the 485 hectares of the public university campus, located in La Jolla, for the enjoyment of 43,000 students. The director of the collection, Jessica Berlanga, was at the event to announce that this year new artists will have the commission of new work.

Kilometers below the hills, in the heart of the city, another Los Angeles institution also opened its doors to lovers of the arts. At the Hollywood Roosevelt, a hotel that has seen the luminaries of the entertainment industry pass by for almost a century, has welcomed Felix since Wednesday. Created by collector Dean Valentine and gallery owners Al and Mills Morán, the fair brings together galleries from all over the world, who have a tiny room on the ground floor of the hotel to exhibit their works.

The route that visitors take is between the hotel rooms. Hundreds of people came and went from the small rooms on Wednesday. Furniture had been removed from these to make room for paintings and sculptures. The works could even be seen in the bathrooms, a space in homes almost always reserved for less valuable work. That rule doesn’t apply here.

Felix’s tour is also around the legendary Tropicana pool, a work of art in itself. Legend claims that the Englishman David Hockney arrived at the hotel one day in 1988 to paint the bottom of the pool. With the help of a broomstick that had a brush on the end, he drew hundreds of navy blue strokes. The movement of water creates a hypnotizing visual effect. Dozens of attendees took the body of water as a meeting point this week at a fair where there is a more informal atmosphere.

In his sixth year, Felix tries to distinguish himself from Frieze, whose arrival in the city marks the calendar as the most important event of the year in the city. Felix organizers assure that this is not a sales-driven event. Galleries, coming from Greece and Romania to New York, pay between $10,000 and $20,000 to be here. It’s just a fraction of the nearly $80,000 that Frieze can estimate for an 80-square-meter space.

Frieze, however, continues to show its drawing power and economic relevance. On Thursday, a day dedicated only to collectors and VIP guests, the fair reported the sale of a drawing by Richard Serra for two million dollars at the Gladstone gallery. In addition to cashing in just a few hours after opening its doors, the event was attended by Leonardo DiCaprio and Robert Downey Jr. who made time in the middle of their Oscar campaign to appreciate a little art. They are signs of the robust market in Los Angeles.

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