BBQLA Unites Art With Homestyle Grub

BBQLA Unites Art With Homestyle Grub

The artist-run platform BBQLA is creating non-intimidating art-going atmospheres with the help of the American staple, barbecue.

The artist-run platform BBQLA is creating non-intimidating art-going atmospheres with the help of the American staple, barbecue.

Text: Alexandra Pechman

A version of this spread appears in the pages of VMAN39, available on newsstands now. Order your copy now at vmagazineshop.com

In an industrial district of downtown Los Angeles, the aptly named BBQLA lures crowds to regular art shows with Midwestern-style barbeque. The artist-run platform—an alternative gallery that also functions as a roving installation—unites contemporary art with homestyle cooking. The goal of the seemingly strange pairing, per its directors, is to foster a non-intimidating art-going atmosphere through literally breaking bread.

One sunny L.A. morning, the four co-directors—Timo Fahler, Adam Beris, Thomas Linder, and Patrick Kellycooper—are wearing a mix of shorts, paint-splattered pants, and Crocs at their semi-official location, Linder’s studio. All four have jobs while also working as artists and running the space on a volunteer basis. A tiny mutt named Doobie serves as their unofficial mascot.

The overall concept began with backyard barbeques at an apartment in Silver Lake rented by Fahler and Linder, who went to the Kansas City Art Institute with Beris. Eventually the project attracted noted L.A. artists like Mary Weatherford, and the idea soon outgrew the small yard. Today, the directors still almost solely program group shows, a melting pot to match their foodie vibes, with titles such as “Tropical Hot Dog Night,” “Marinade,” and “Slightly Undercooked.” Curators and artists even get involved with choosing and cooking the food served at the crowded openings, which start late and end even later.

A migratory concept, BBQLA has put on shows elsewhere in L.A. and even in Toronto. Starting this year, the directors will stage a series of exhibitions inspired by American Fine Arts, an influential 1980s New York gallery, featuring artists who got their start in artist-run spaces. Shows are slated for San Francisco, Chicago, Miami, and New York. The crew is also planning a potential summer road tour, taking an RV to cities like Denver and Little Rock for a series of one-night shows.

“We’re not a traditional model,” Beris says. “We’re four shitheads who decided to start this thing, and now we’re sitting at the big-kids table.”

From Left: Works by Trulee Hall, Sarah Wilson, and Lazaros, from the exhibit 'Son Of Mr. Green Genes' at BBQLA, 2017

Credits: COVER PORTRAIT BY BRANDON BOWEN, ART PHOTOGRAPHY BY LAZAROS

UP NEXT

Balenciaga Debuts the Trainer of the Season