Pandemic or no pandemic, the Tarfest 2020 multi-arts festival will go on.
This 18th annual event is an ambitious undertaking with two group art exhibits and a live dance event inspired by a beloved area drive-in theater.
The Gilmore Drive-In, which opened in 1948 and closed in 1979 — now the site of The Grove — will be remembered in a dance performance at the closing of this year’s festival on Fri., Oct. 2.
The festival usually takes place outdoors at Tar Pits Park in the Miracle Mile. But nothing is usual about this year.
“Tarfest has been part of the Los Angeles community for over 18 years, remaining an important annual event through massive changes that have transformed the city,” says Tarfest founder James Panozzo of Launch LA. “This year’s challenges of a global pandemic forced artists and producers to really impose their creative will. I think we have accomplished something special.”
Tarfest kicked off last month with a Facebook Live Opening of the first of the two group exhibitions, “Transition.” It continues, online, at the ART170 building, 170 S. La Brea Ave.
In all, 132 artists submitted more than 440 works in July for the open-call show, curated by Holly Jerger, who is the exhibitions curator at Craft Contemporary.
The exhibit features 46 artworks by 44 Southern California artists whose practices engage with core concepts of change during these unprecedented times.
The second group exhibition, “Have To Hold,” curated by Elizabeth Tinglof and Ashley Hagen, opened on Sat., Sept. 5 at Launch LA, 170 S. La Brea Ave. In the exhibition, six contemporary artists reflect upon the rich and charged history and psychology of collecting. Through their own use of objects and materials, they construct stories of experiences and conceptual perspectives, addressing both the past and future.
Participating artists include Vida Liu, Constance Mallinson, Kristen Morgin, Kimberly Morris, Ephraim Puusemp and George Stoll. The gallery will be open by appointment Thursdays to Saturdays during the month of September.
Drive-in and dance event
For its finale, the festival moves to The Original Farmers Market on Fri., Oct. 2 with “Breathe: A Drive-In Dance Event.”
Created, choreographed and directed by Laurie Sefton with original music by Bryan Curt Kostors, the performance is inspired by drive-in movie theaters similar to the beloved Gilmore Drive-In theater that was located at Third St. and what is now The Grove Drive, from 1948-1979.
“‘Breathe’ will be live, outdoors, capsular and interactive, with guests enjoying the performance from the comfort of their own cars in the north parking lot of The Original Farmers Market,” Panozzo said.
Tickets will be free but limited and advance reservations will be required. Ticket information is available at farmersmarketla.com.
Tarfest supporters include the City of Los Angeles Dept. of Cultural Affairs, the California Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts/Art Works and The Japan Foundation, Los Angeles. Some of this year’s sponsors include Television City, The Original Farmers Market, Olympia Medical Center, Lagunitas Brewery, The Beverly Connection, Los Angeles City Councilmembers David Ryu, CD 4, and Paul Koretz, CD 5, and the Greater Miracle Mile Chamber of Commerce. LACMA and the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County (NHMLAC) also have supported the festival the past 17 years. For more information, visit launchla.org.