2013 Art Shows – A Year in Review.

WHAT MAKES FOR A GREAT ART FAIR? 
Opening Event at the Salon Art + Design Show

Opening Event at the Salon Art + Design Show

 

1.Vernissage – defined as a great opening party.
The Salon Art + Design Show in NYC at the Park Avenue Armory earlier this month was a civilized and elegant affair after a few weeks of NYC auction art frenzy.

With Sylvia Panijal Chavillat & Picasso 

With Sylvia Panijal Chavillat & Picasso


2.Great Art: Works that have rarely or possibly never been shown before. Art Fairs should be like a well produced fashion show, always with a new collection. There are enough artists out there to support this premise.

3. Unique / Special Venue: In a good location or a creative and interesting space that draws people in.

4. Well Curated Booth: Which reflects the local cultural and global issues. A well thought out booth that can tell a story or refers to the artists behind the work.

5. Branding: Viewers should be able to identify with the show and take something away from it instead of being overly conceptual and out there, unless the later objective is to be far reaching. Then it is a show where the focus is not on selling art… begging the question “How does that help the artist?”

Waterhouse & Dodd salon at The Salon: Art + Design Show.

Waterhouse & Dodd salon at The Salon: Art + Design Show.


An excellent example of a beautifully curated show (vs. fair) was the Salon Arts + Design Show held at the
Park Avenue Armory on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. It featured 53 leading international galleries, showing coveted works of art, 20th century and contemporary design, decorative arts, antiques and ethnographic art.The exhibitor vetting process is taken seriously by the show’s review committee.

The attendees reflected a local and International mix judging by the artsy yet elegant crowd who attended the opening VIP event which included yummy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails hosted by Architectural Digest. Visitors were able to take away a handsomely produced program, view a well executed website and even use their smart phones with the Artsy app to get information about various exhibits and pricing in real time during the course of the four day art fair.

WHAT MAKES FOR A BAD ART FAIR?
Admiring the work of Klaus Enrique  at the Art Hamptons show in front of Rob Tucker's    mixed media ship work - oil / resin on board.

Admiring the work of Klaus Enrique
 at the Art Hamptons show in front of Rob Tucker’s  
 mixed media ship work – oil / resin on board.

 

1. Overcrowded: With art and people, and narrow corridors / poorly designed booths that limit access to the artwork.
2. Overdone / Repetitive: Featuring the same artists that are seen everywhere and often.

3. Confusing Content: An over emphasis on performance and installation art that can be difficult to relate to, or artwork that is simply too large to fit into most homes, forget about a NYC apartment.

Overwhelmingly conceptual trying too hard to be different and off-beat, which can frustrate the viewer who is unable to relate to the artwork.

4. Timing: Too many fairs going at the same time – making it an overwhelming and exhausting experience.

5. Results:  It’s a bad show when few attendees buy the art!

Sara - owner of Sara Nightingale Gallery, Watermill, NY at ArtMRKT with  "A Mirror to Nature" 2013 by Cara Enteles.

Sara – owner of Sara Nightingale Gallery,
Watermill, NY at ArtMRKT with
“A Mirror to Nature” 2013 by Cara Enteles.

 

Some art fair organizers believe that healthy competition is good – but how much is too much?

Two contemporary art fairs were held on the same weekend last summer in Bridgehampton, NY – the artMRKT Hamptons and ArtHamptons shows.

The former with 40 exhibitors was held at the Bridgehampton Historical Center grounds in the center of the village, right at the Hampton Jitney stop.

ArtMRKT Hamptons made a valiant attempt to entertain the guests with unusual music, performances and creatively dressed waitstaff; along with a wide array of gourmet food trucks from the five boroughs.

Rebecca, owner of Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery at Art Hamptons.

Rebecca, owner of Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery at
Art Hamptons.

 

ArtHamptons was held north of Bridgehamton on the 95 acre Sculpture Fields of Nova’s Ark with 78 galleries, with seemingly endless aisles and some booths featured just too much inventory.

Art Hamptons seemed to be focused on many social events -including a party celebrating the accomplishments of three time winner of the Pulitzer Prize and three Tony awards Edward Albee.

Both shows offered collectors a great chance to talk to exhibiting artists, gallery owners and other collectors.

I visited one of my favorites – The Rebecca Hossack Art Gallery – where I have collected from in the past. I have even gone as far as to visit her two galleries in London, and now it is easier to drop in on the gallery since they now have a location at 262 Mott Street in NYC. I’ve bought two pieces from Rebecca including a work by Kate Jenkins. Rececca is one of the hardest working gallery owners I know – who exhibited at both Art Hamptons and Art Southampton – the third and last local art fair this past summer.

With the legendary artist Faith Ringgold with her ACA Galleries representative.

With the legendary artist Faith Ringgold with her ACA Galleries representative.

One of my highlights of the Art Hamptons fair was the opportunity to meet and talk with painter / sculptor / writer / activist Faith Ringgold who was recognized with the show’s 2013 Artist Lifetime Achievement Honor.

Faith is well known for her painted story quilts, which blur the line between “high art” and “craft” by combining painting, quilted fabric and storytelling – dating back to the 1960s. She is a native of Harlem, and is a professor emeritus of the UC San Diego visual arts department.

Doeringer's Mobile Art Fair.

Doeringer’s Mobile Art Fair.

 

 

An interesting contrarian is Eric Doeringer, an artist who does “Guerrilla Art Fairs” out of the back of his car, featuring art re-creations from the 1960s-80s including knock-offs of Richard Prince and Andy Warhol and unauthorized bootleg works from over 100 different contemporary artists. Eric has a sense of humor about his work, and finds great locations!

At a recent ATOA (Artist Talk on Art) forum on art fairs/shows with a panel run by Michael Sellinger – he commented that art show exhibitors are going to pay a minimum of $50/sq. ft. at the more reasonably priced art fairs. I mentioned the NYC Affordable Art Fair as a good choice for galleries since the cost to do business starts at a more reasonable rate of $10-20,000 for a booth for a 3-5 day event.(Not including travel, food, employees,etc.)

Because of the expense involved, gallery owners need to be very focused on the choice of art they bring to the show and how they display it. They need to appeal to both their existing client base of collectors, the new emerging collector segment and institutions if they are going to make art shows / fairs a viable business proposition.

Screen-Shot-2013-11-29-at-4.27.52-PM

 

I am off to the Art Basel Miami Beach show on December 2nd in order to fit in the official 22 (and counting) satellite art fairs.

 

In order to keep your social calendars organized I recommend the paper mag blog and the Art-Collecting.com Miami Beach Art Fair Guide 2013 .

If you can pull it off to go to the pre-openings – such as Art Basel Vernissage at the Miami Beach Convention Center, for great people watching as well as an international collection of multi-million dollar branded art.

I will be seeking new artists for my personal collection and my building art curation program in commercial spaces here in NYC, as well as meeting with galleries/artist looking for commercial space in New York City.

WHAT IS YOUR CURE FOR AN ART-HANGOVER?

I’m looking forward to my “art-hangover” cure of fried chicken and waffles at
 “Tongue and Cheek” in the sofi district in Miami.

Join me for my cure, share yours or let’s look at art together in Miami.

I can be reached at cindy@realartmuse.com

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Comments 1

  1. I LOVE art fairs too and appreciated this blog. Cindy, you were very kind not to mention particular fairs by name in “Bad Art Fairs” although we can all think of a few (which make the good ones stand out). “Branding” question. If not for sales then exposure I say!!
    Mitch

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