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2022 L.A. Art Show Looks to the Future with NFTs and the Environment

NFT-backed digital art on display on LED screen mounted onto a metal pipe structure in the middle of a convention center. Around the exhibition are various booths and gallery walls displaying pieces from other artists from around L.A. and the world.
The "Elsewhere Is a Negative Mirror" in-person NFT exhibition on display at the 2022 L.A. Art Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Jan. 19, 2022. The exhibition is presented by Vellum L.A., an art gallery for NFT-backed digital art located on Melrose Ave. | Paula Kiley
Questions around the rise of NFT-backed art and the looming threat of climate change are big themes that permeate the 2022 L.A. Art Show which runs from Jan. 19 to Jan. 23.
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Between the impact that COVID-19 has had on travel and gatherings, the continued rise of NFT-backed art and the looming threat of climate change, the future of art and culture is worth considering. How can artists engage with environmental issues? How will audiences interact with art? These are all questions that permeate this year's L.A. Art Show, which opened on Wednesday, Jan. 19 and runs through Sunday, Jan. 23 at Los Angeles Convention Center. With a show floor packed with mini-exhibitions that cross disciplines, L.A. Art Show participants are looking towards the future, whether that's in the production and distribution of art or the role of artists have in building a better world.

"We're under threat of the rising sea," says artist Taiji Terasaki of Hawaii, where he's lived for 16 years. "So it's really an important statement that we're trying to make because it's happening."

Taiji Terasaki stands with his hands tucked into his pockets and looking at the camera. He's wearing a black bomber jacket. Behind him are two of his art pieces. The art piece to the left are still printed photographs of the environment. The piece on the right is woven sheet metal with environmental photos printed onto the metal.
Taiji Terasaki stands with his hands tucked into his pockets and looking at the camera. He's wearing a black bomber jacket. Behind him are two of his art pieces. The art piece to the left are still printed photographs of the environment. The piece on the right is woven sheet metal with environmental photos printed onto the metal.
1/3 Oahu-based artist Taiji Terasaki with his pieces at the L.A. Art Show at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Jan. 19, 2022. Terasaki uses mixed processes from mist projections to woven sheets of metal to make a statement on environmental issues. | Paula Kiley
A gallery wall features a still of mist media photography — a photograph projected onto mist and then photographed and printed. The photo is in a thin black frame. To the right of the gallery wall are three LED screens with mist media projections.
A gallery wall features a still of mist media photography — a photograph projected onto mist and then photographed and printed. The photo is in a thin black frame. To the right of the gallery wall are three LED screens with mist media projections.
2/3 Terasaki's series at the 2022 L.A. Art Show feature mist media photography, left, and NFTs, right, among other pieces like metal weavings and an interactive live mist installation. | Paula Kiley
Two sheets of metal woven together. One sheet of metal has a city landscape printed on. Another sheet of metal has an ocean water landscape printed on. Then two sheets are cut in strips and are interwoven with one another.
Two sheets of metal woven together. One sheet of metal has a city landscape printed on. Another sheet of metal has an ocean water landscape printed on. Then two sheets are cut in strips and are interwoven with one another.
3/3 A metal weaving piece in Terasaki's series at the L.A. Art Show features a city landscape and a natural landscape woven together. Terasaki's artworks consider the "urgency of the climate crisis and the drastic changes we need to make as a society." | Paula Kiley

Terasaki uses a mix of processes in speaking about environmental issues. He has a "mist media player," where a cloud of mist acts as a screen for projections. Some of his pieces are photos of those projections, with the mist adding an ethereal effect to the final image. In other pieces, he prints photos on sheets of metal that are then cut up and woven together. The photos include images of protected, yet environmentally-fragile, places both in Hawaii and Palmyra Atoll. At the L.A. Art Show, where the Honolulu-based artist is exhibiting with Kelly Sueda Fine Arts, Terasaki's work was unified by a theme: our oceans and coasts need protection.

The future of our planet in light of the impact of climate change and environmental degradation was one of the themes running through the 2022 edition of L.A. Art Show. The festival's DIVERSEartLA programming, curated by Marisa Caichiolo, spotlighted collaborations between arts and science and/or environmental institutions that spoke to these pressing issues. MUMBAT Museum of Fine Arts of Tandil and Museum of Nature and Science Antonio Serrano of Entre Rios Argentina joined forces in presenting "The Earth's Fruits," an installation from Argentinian artist Guillermo Anselmo Vezzosi, with music by Maria Emilia Peralta. Here, Vezzosi transforms waste into trees that gently sway as the sounds of nature permeate Peralta's ambient score.

A cooler future for Angelenos was at the center of "Recognizing Skid Row As A Neighborhood:Skid Row Cooling Resources." The installation, curated by Tom Grode, documents efforts to provide cooling stations and necessities like cold water to Skid Row locals during the summer of 2021. The neighborhood is what's known as an "urban heat island," meaning that its lack of shade combined with heat-absorbing surfaces causes temperatures to rise. With signs and fans that people could decorate, the cooling station project became an example of art activism.

A large net woven with a crochet-style technique is draped over the exhibition space. The net is woven with a plastic beige-colored material. Behind the net is a projection on a white gallery wall. The projections feature scenes of melting ice landscapes.
"The Other Waterfall," presented by MUSA, Museum of the Arts of the University of Guadalajara and MCA Museum of Environmental Science at the 2022 L.A. Art Show on Jan. 19, 2022. | Paula Kiley

"The Other Waterfall," presented by MUSA, Museum of the Arts of the University of Guadalajara and MCA Museum of Environmental Science, is artist Claudia Rodriguez's reflection on the pollution of the Santiago River in Mexico. A massive, white net hangs at the center of the installation. It was the result of a collaboration between Rodriguez, social psychologist Ana Joaquina Ramirez, artist Rosina Santana and many activists called "Redes," where the 2153 square foot net made of recycled plastic was displayed in protest of government inaction that led to the contamination of the river. The net, made by over 400 people using a crotchet-style technique, represented the foam in the contaminated Santiago River.

Elsewhere inside L.A. Art Show, artists and galleries look at the future of art. For over 120 years, family-run Judson Studios has been designing and making stained glass in Los Angeles. Their work can be seen at Forest Lawn in Glendale, Los Angeles' Central Library and the Natural History Museum as well as a number of Southern California churches and homes. Today, they employ both traditional and modern techniques in making glass art.

Glass artworks displayed on white gallery walls. At the foreground is a glass artwork shaped as a pointed dome with colored glass shapes. On the gallery wall behind reads, "Judson Studios Est. 1897."
Glass artworks displayed on white gallery walls. At the foreground is a glass artwork shaped as a pointed dome with colored glass shapes. On the gallery wall behind reads, "Judson Studios Est. 1897."
1/3 Glass artworks on display at the Judson Studios booth at the 2022 L.A. Art Gallery on Jan. 19, 2022. | Paula Kiley
A close-up of a stained glass artwork that feature natural curves and shapes. The glass is stained in pinks, reds, yellows, greens and purples. The glass is speckled with darker spots.
A close-up of a stained glass artwork that feature natural curves and shapes. The glass is stained in pinks, reds, yellows, greens and purples. The glass is speckled with darker spots.
2/3 A close-up of the "Pagoda Umbrella" (2021) on display at the Judson Studios booth at the 2022 L.A. Art Show on Jan. 19, 2022. "Pagoda Umbrella" is the top and first completed portion of James Jean’s ambitious "Pagoda" (2022) — "the culmination of a four-year partnership between Jean and Judson Studios on three pivotal projects that integrate traditional stained glass fabrication methods with powerful digital modeling programs, precise waterjet cutting systems and pioneering fused art glass techniques." | Paula Kiley
Glass artworks hang on white gallery walls at the L.A. Art Show.
Glass artworks hang on white gallery walls at the L.A. Art Show.
3/3 Glass artworks on display at the Judson Studios booth at the 2022 L.A. Art Show on Jan. 19, 2022. | Paula Kiley

In recent years, the local studio has collaborated with artists like James Jean, Shay Bredimus and El Mac on projects that use stained and/or fused glass processes. "Pagoda Umbrella," displayed at L.A. Art Show, brings together James Jean's colorful, illustrative style with Judson Studio's glass work and is part of a larger installation called "Pagoda."

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