When it comes to who’s who in the contemporary art world, the answer is typically whoever is at the Frieze art fair and for the first time ever the Los Angeles installation of this prestigious art event is coming to Santa Monica.

The Frieze Los Angeles art fair will take place across several sites at the Santa Monica Airport from February 16 to 19, 2023. There will be over 100 exhibitors from countries all over the world, as well as the local community, showcasing their artwork in both a central exhibition tent and several surrounding activitations. These will include outdoor art installations, a section for local nonprofits, and an area for food trucks.

“We have actually been talking with the Frieze team for quite a while, since before the pandemic, about them moving to Santa Monica, and they’ve explored a number of different locations in the city and really landed on the airport as being the most ideal location for them and it really works for the city because we have a pretty nice arts campus already at the airport,” said Cultural Affairs Manager Shannon Daut. “So [we are] really hoping to use this as a great opportunity to build and expand on the arts presence in the airport.”

The airport is home to several art studios and artist residency programs of the 18th Street Art Center in Santa Monica. These artists, alongside other Los Angeles based contemporary artists, are welcome to apply for an exhibition space from now until applications close on June 20. While Frieze LA will feature art from all over the world, there will be a special section for local artists called Focus LA. 

Frieze art shows began in London in 2003 and have since grown to include annual contemporary art fairs in New York, LA and Seoul. The organization also holds one Frieze Masters fair a year, which typically takes place in London and showcases work made before the year 2000. 

The first Frieze LA event took place in 2019 at the Paramount Pictures Studios and moved to the Beverly Hilton in February 2022, following a successful 2020 show at Paramount and a 2021 COVID-induced hiatus. According to Christine Messineo, director of Americas for Frieze, the Beverly Hilton was not an option for 2023 and the Santa Monica airport was instead chosen for its size and flexibility. 

“Frieze Los Angeles’ new home offers us so much — the scale of the site allows for ambitious activations and collaborations with artists, galleries, and non-profits,” said Messineo. “As a major destination, the fair will extend its reach across the city and celebrate the creative communities of Los Angeles.”

For Santa Monica, the fair also presents an opportunity to put its artists community on the world map and establish itself as an ideal location for post-pandemic events. 

“I think the way people want to experience the arts has changed during the pandemic and having space and having room to kind of breathe literally, is good for people,” said Daut. “I think that also with the airport potentially closing in 2028, I think this will just show how the arts can really play a valuable and vital role in the future of the airport as we think about turning it into a park.”