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Liz Craft and Pentti Monkkonen Organize Paramount Ranch

11 Feb 2014

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Left: Artists Space’s cowboys at Paramount Ranch. Right: Paramount Ranch organizers Liz Craft and Pentti Monkkonen at Paramount Ranch. (both photos: Kate Sutton)

Comic Future artist Liz Craft and her Paradise Garage co-founder, Penti Monkkonen, are responsible for organizing “Los Angeles’s newest” (and coolest) art fair: Paramount Ranch. Artforum recaps the festivities:

It was the weekend of the Big Game and tensions were high.

“Stoooners!”

“Where’s the Stoned team?”

“Seriously, guys—get on the field! It’s game time!”

Emerald-teed Team Stoned stumbled onto the part of a dusty parking lot marked up to resemble a soccer field, as their red-shirted opponents—Team Drunk—roared cheers from a formidable-looking huddle. Less than ten seconds after the first whistle, one of Drunk’s forwards sent an impassioned kick toward the Stoned goalie, who was casually chatting with a passing stranger. The ball flew by him, easily sailing through the parking cone goalposts. Team Drunk erupted into howls and fist-pumps. Team Stoned dissolved into disparaging grumbles: “Cooome on, man! You gotta watch the goal, if you’re going to play…” “That guy asked me a question!” the goalie protested. Needless to say, what followed was a pummeling akin to that of this weekend’s other big game (The Puppy Bowl).

Drunk vs Stoned was Scott Reeder and Tyson Reeder’s contribution to Paramount Ranch, Los Angeles’s newest art fair, masterminded by Paradise Garage’s Liz Craft and Pentti Monkkonen and fresh transplants Robbie Fitzpatrick and Alex Freedman. Paramount Ranch eschewed the convention centers, expo halls, and airport hangers of other fairs, installing thirty-some galleries and artists-run spaces in an eponymous prop Western town tucked into the Santa Monica Mountains. Once known as Rancho Las Virgenes, in its sixty years as a movie set the ranch has appeared on screen as everything from Old Salem to an isle in the South Pacific. Most attendees knew it—if at all—as the set of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, but apparently it’s also a hotspot for theme weddings.

The fair was free to all who made the journey, and closed at sundown. (The latter was less a nod to cinematic tropes than deference to the National Park Service, who maintains the site.) “We prefer to think of it not so much as a commercial fair than as a community street festival,” Fitzpatrick explained. “Our mission has really been to connect these new, young, globetrotting galleries, but in a way that’s more interesting than just another white-cube fair.” Outfits like Supportico Lopez, Neue Alte Brücke, Misako & Rosen, and Essex Street settled behind the old-timey facades of the General Store, the Great Bend Jail, and Hotel Mud Bug, while 356 Mission/Ooga Booga headquartered in the open-air Depot (where Teams Drunk and Stoned pre-gamed at a finger-painting station).

“If you’re going to have to have a hangover, this is a pretty sweet place to spend it,” dealer François Ghebaly mused from the sun-soaked porch of the Barn, where he was showing some coltish Mike Kuchar drawings. Over outside the Saloon, two cowboys wearing little more than their hats, boots, and limited edition Artists Space Stewart Uoo scarves sunned themselves in front of a red pick-up truck. “I tried to get us some Hollister models, but we ended up with porn stars,” director Stefan Kalmár admitted.