Last year, one of the most unique and popular art shows in the City was the 2nd Annual Coaster Show at La Luz de Jesus Gallery. The show, with over 700 coasters designed by art students, animators, tattoo artists, professional artists, sculptors, illustrators, graphic designers and many more talented people, took ‘doodling on a beer coaster’ to a whole new level. The premise is simple—–artists are given a 4” tondo coaster to do their work on. Each coaster must be a solitary work (though it’s fine if several pieces work together contextually) and it should sell for no more than $250, with many even going for free.
This year, the rules are the same, but the 3rd Annual Coaster Show will have over 1,000 of the miniature masterpieces. Matt Kennedy, the Gallery Director and Show Coordinator at the La Luz de Jesus Gallery, gave the Los Angeles Beat the inside story on the upcoming event, as well as some of the background on how the Coaster Show came about.
MK: “The coaster show came about as a kind of planned accident. September is the start of the new art season, and like most galleries we had a show planned with one of our Headliners. When we were about five months out, I got a call letting me know that he was not on target for deadline and would have to drop the show. Five months is not a lot of time to find a replacement for the season’s kick-off exhibition. It’s not enough time for an artist to make a new body of work, and it brushes up close with the print deadline. I was basically screwed, but right after I got that call, my friend Brandon Bradford, who is a partner in the Goat Group family of bars, walked into the gallery to ask about the possibility of doing a Pop Up show that would tie into L.A. Beer Week in September. Without even thinking I exclaimed, “Yes! Let’s do a Coaster Show!” and we ran with it.
Since we have two separate spaces under one roof, we used the front gallery as a showcase for an artist who we really love whose work wouldn’t clash too much with the Beer Is Art show (as the first one was known), and who we fly had earned a full room solo show. Max Grundy was a choice that first year, and it went really well together.
That first year we asked each artist to present 3 to 4 coasters priced between $100 and $300 each, allowing a single creation of multiple coasters to go above the ceiling price for a single coaster. We went to Comicon and had artists do their coasters right there at their tables, and I visited the Drink N Draw crew every Thursday for six or eight weeks handing out coasters and collecting them at the end of the night, and we issued an open call to everyone who had submitted work to our annual Laluzapalooza show. With smaller pieces there was a lot more wall space, so we got to open it up to a lot of people we might not otherwise show. Also, because a coaster isn’t such a big commitment, we were able to get people who wouldn’t otherwise have time to do pieces for us, too. That first year we had a Ron English coaster for $140.
Many people were just happy to participate and didn’t want to charge $100, so we waived the minimum price. The following year we lowered the ceiling to $250, and partnered with several other international galleries. We also eliminated the multiple coaster higher price rule and added a few free coasters. This year, we kept the size fof the artwork to the surface area of the coaster (4” tondo) and rewarded our regular patrons with the exclusive right of pre-sale opportunity.
Next year we may change the coaster shape, and in year five we’ve got something pretty radical planned.
The most important thing for me is that artists have fun working in a format that they might not normally. We’ve got a few people who generally work small, but we’ve also got people like Christopher Ulrich who usually paint eight feet tall, so it’s a real treat for patrons to see. We also tightened up the jury this year to make sure that the price point of the work submitted fit within the spirit of the show. When we first post the preview online, we have the artists look to make sure that all the info is correct, and every year at least a dozen of them lower their prices upon seeing what their peers have delivered. That makes this the best show for collectors. Of course I may be slightly biased, but I’m a collector, too. I make myself wait until after the opening weekend to buy anything because I want to preserve that excitement for people who wait all year to find something special. I hate walking into galleries where all the best pieces have been purchased by the gallery owners and I’ve vowed not to do that. The sheer volume of great work in this show all but guarantees that incredible pieces get overlooked by the first crowds allowing patient patrons to snatch up great pieces all month long. I’ll set up a desk in the middle of the gallery to drink a craft beer or two with folks coming to see the show and I’ll see pieces that look completely new to me”.
Whether you are a person who just likes to draw on napkins and coasters, an art aficionado or anyone in between, there will be something for everyone to enjoy at the Coaster Show. You might even want to buy a piece or two, or even take home a free piece of coaster art. There’s something for everyone!
Opening Day for the Coaster Show is September 4, 2015, with the Opening Reception from 8pm to 11pm. The show will run through September 27. Everyone is also invited to the Closing Party on September 27 from noon until 6pm. Running concurrently with the 3rd Annual Coaster Show is artist Harold Fox’ “Into Oblivion” show.
The Coaster Show takes place at the acclaimed La Luz de Jesus Gallery, 4633 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027. The Gallery phone is (323) 666-7667 and their website is www.laluzdejesus.com.