Berlin has its Biennial, Miami Art Basel, New York the Armory. Los Angeles has its confluence-of-art with photo LA and art LA. For six days each January (three for both) two of the most exceptional exhibitions land in the Barker Hanger.

At the Santa Monica Airport, an entire hanger is heated and carpeted, and white walls erected, as galleries from around the nation, world and the apparent center of the art world, Santa Fe, hang their A-listers for purchase (just as agencies represent writers, directors and actors, galleries represent visual artists.) The roster at both fairs is always impressive, with original Warhols, Cartier-Bressons, Chuck Closes, Stieglitzs and almost any photographer and artist you would want to purchase.

Not that you need to. Even without paying $12,000 for a Julia Fullerton-Batten (I was close.) both act as powerful temporary exhibitions.

No matter what your taste in art and photography, the shows provide a breadth of creativity. A gallery from New York may specialize in Magritte and other surrealists, while the one in the next booth, from Germany, focuses on contemporary photographs by Cindy Sherman.  

And those two aren’t even at the opposite ends of the artistic spectrum. The strength of both LA’s is the not knowing what will confront you around the next wall; the only constant is representatives from the galleries being either extremely friendly or overwhelmingly dismissive. (Tip: If you’re interested in buying, don’t wear ripped Converse.)

Most fall in the former category, and are happy to answer any questions you have on their artists, the artwork in question or provide you with a postcard or link to find further information. Either way, for far less than purchasing textbooks on the history of art – classical to modern – you can observe the actual pieces and hear anecdotes on Dali that wouldn’t make the Taschen guide anyway.

The Barker Hanger is located at 3021 Airport Ave.,?Santa Monica. For more information, visit