LOS ANGELES — The New Low Gallery on South Rampart Boulevard is an artist-run gallery space owned by Adam Stamp. Stamp focuses on sculpture in his art practice and hosts fellow artists who are sculpture-forward, such as Ellen Schafer, whose installation "Simplicity" is currently on show at the first-ever Gallery Weekend LA.
"Simplicity" is a two-part installation in collaboration with The Fulcrum Press and riffs on Korean Spa culture, which, given its proximity to Wi Spa down the block, has taken on added meaning as that spa has in recent weeks become a flashpoint for transgender rights.
"I'm wearing the uniform which [Schafer] designed so that whoever is gallery-sitting on days that it's open is required to wear this uniform," Stamp said of the spa-inspired shorts and T-shirt he donned. "Everything's done by hand. They're all hand-dyed."
Art galleries were closed for much of the pandemic, lumped in with other public gathering spaces like movie theaters. For many smaller, independent galleries like Stamp's, staying financially afloat has been tricky.
"The person who is my landlord here is an art person," Stamp said. "So, they've been very patient and supportive in helping me and to keep things going."
Stamp also has been working as a commercial costumer in Hollywood.
"We went back to working in July, and that helps keep this going as well," he said.
The Gallery Association of LA, or GALA, devised its inaugural Gallery Weekend LA during the pandemic.
Gallery owner and GALA operating committee member Jeffrey Deitch said the five-day event will help create awareness and community around LA's vibrant and diverse art scene.
"A number of the galleries that are dispersed — that are in Inglewood, Glendale, in areas that are not just Central LA — are not always as accessible to audiences," Deitch said. "So, this is a way to make the community more inclusive."
Gallery Weekend LA's online hub gives art lovers a guided neighborhood map of the 80 participating galleries, many of which have extended their hours for the event that includes artist product marketplaces as well.
Currently at The Jeffrey Deitch Gallery is the work of Nari Ward, whose art draws on his own immigrant experiences, often using found objects like shoelaces, security tags and charred fire hoses. Deitch said he finds LA's art scene more driven by passion than by money, and that may have helped many galleries survive the pandemic.
"Because of this unique approach," Deitch said. "It's more mission than business. Even in a challenging economic environment, people try to keep it going."
Keeping things going might be more difficult for the smaller galleries like Stamp's, but that's what Gallery Weekend LA is all about: Raising awareness.
"This is a really exciting time to set aside a weekend where you can just go see art," Stamp said.