Frieze scraps its outdoor sculpture show in Beverly Hills over labor shortages, supply chain delays

Frieze Squeeze

Frieze scraps its outdoor sculpture show in Beverly Hills over labor shortages, supply chain delays

The famed Beverly Hills sign at Beverly Gardens Park. (Jennifer Boyers/ Flickr/ CC BY-ND 2.0)

Although its main Los Angeles event is still a go from February 17 to 20, Frieze Art Fair organizers have announced the cancelation of Frieze Sculpture Beverly Hills, a complementary public art program where sculptures from 12 exhibiting galleries would have been on temporary view at Beverly Gardens Park well past the conclusion of the fair, until May.

Stretching 1.9 miles along Santa Monica Boulevard in the heart of Beverly Hills, Beverly Gardens Park is located in close proximity to the art fair’s new L.A. home at a development site adjacent to the historic Beverly Hilton. The inaugural Frieze Los Angeles was held in 2019 at Paramount Studios in Hollywood within a tent designed for the event by Kulapat Yantrasast of wHY. The following year, Paramount Studios again served as home for the international contemporary art fair, first held in London in 2003. In 2021, an in-person Frieze Los Angeles was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic; the westward move from Hollywood to 9900 Wilshire Boulevard in Beverly Hills was announced by Frieze in April of last year, highlighting the new location’s “prime position between the Hammer Museum and the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.”

As for the scrapping of Frieze Sculpture Beverly Hills this year, the pandemic is also to blame.

“Due to delays in shipping and labor shortages as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have determined that we do not have sufficient artworks to realize a full-scale public-sculpture installation,” explained a Frieze spokesperson in a statement shared by the Beverly Hills Courier. “We are grateful to the City of Beverly Hills, as well as the participating galleries and artists, for all their support. We continue to look forward to this year’s Frieze Week in Beverly Hills.”

As noted by the Courier, the three-month-long outdoor sculpture program at Beverly Gardens Park, which would have been free and accessible to the public 24/7, necessitated a change in city code. The linear park is already ground-zero for public art in the affluent L.A. County city, and features works from the likes of Yayoi Kusama, Ai Weiwei, Magdalena Abakanowicz, Tony Smith, Roxy Paine, and others.

As further detailed by the Los Angeles Times, Frieze Sculpture Beverly Hills was envisioned as a 2022 variation of the popular (and largely outdoors) Frieze Projects, a program in which site-specific installations were on view across the Paramount backlot for the 2019 and 2020 fairs. Tickets to Frieze Projects could be purchased separately from the main fair, and for a lower price point. (Generation admission adult tickets for the Frieze Los Angeles 2022 start at $75.)

Artists whose works would have been exhibited at the inaugural Frieze Sculpture Beverly Hills included, among others, Glenn Kaino, Alma Allen, Hannah Greely, Ugo Rondinone, Larry Bell, Beatriz Cortez, and the late Chris Burden. As Frieze representative Belinda Bowring elaborated to the Times, some of the artists’ works are stuck in transit at international ports or experiencing other COVID-related travel delays. (The Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach are still experiencing particularly disruptive backlogs.) Compounding shipping woes is a shortage of available art installers and other skilled laborers that would have brought the ephemeral sculpture exhibition at Beverly Gardens Park to life.

Fair organizers are now planning to install some of the sculptures that have arrived or other works by participating artists within the main tented event space, just outside of it, or in/around the neighboring Beverly Hilton.

Looking further ahead on the Frieze calendar, Frieze New York is still set to kick off on May 18 and run through May 22 while the first-ever fair in Asia, Frieze Seoul, is scheduled for September.