Malibu Seen / By Kim Devore

Exhibitor Shannon Richardson shows off a wall of incredible images at photo la. Photo by Devon Meyers

Totally in focus

Shutterbugs are dusting off their lenses and gearing up for one of their favorite events of the year- the 19th Annual International Los Angeles Photographic Arts Exhibition, also known as photo la.

The artistic extravaganza returns to the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, with photographer David LaChapelle and ?Up in the Air?s? Chris Lowell hosting the opening night reception.

Created by Stephen Coen, photo la takes you through a journey of the history of the photographic arts. From early 19th century images of the Old West to today?s most contemporary creations, there?s something for every artistic taste. Over the years, Coen has showcased the work of many talented local photographers including exquisite Tuscan landscapes from Malibu?s Bob Weingarten and iconic case study projects from the late Julius Shulman.

Private dealers and galleries will be coming from across the country and around the world. Los Angeles exhibitors include The Lapis Press, DNJ Gallery, Robert Berman Gallery and Stephen Cohen Gallery, as well as Spain?s Galeria Sicart, Australia?s Queensland Centre, Gallery Suite 59 from the Netherlands and MR Gallery of Beijing.

The opening reception takes place this Thursday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will benefit the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department at LACMA. The event continues through Sunday.

This year?s show will also be filled with plenty of lectures, debuts and previews. You can get a look at a slice of life from the ?La Brea Matrix.? The Museum of Latin American Art is also on board with a preview of its exhibition, ?Changing the Focus: Latin American Photography (1990-2005).? Curator Idurre Alonso will answer questions about his unique exhibition and also share his insight with a special collecting seminar.

Now nearly two decades old, photo la has grown into one of the city?s most popular art shows and the man who started it all couldn?t be happier.

?Los Angeles continues to be home for more and more artists and has become a major creative center for the production of photography and photo-based art,? Cohen said. ?We present an international array of galleries and artists, giving to curators, collectors, critics and art enthusiasts the opportunity to enjoy the best photography that our city and the world have to offer. It is the longest running art fair in Los Angeles and it will be a major cultural event in the Los Angeles fine art landscape.?

Whether it?s landscapes, still-life or portraiture, photo la gives everyone a reason to get snap happy.

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