Fine Art Fair Guide

Fall in love with art: An expert's guide to a groundbreaking, worldly Houston Fine Art Fair

Fall in love with art: An expert's guide to the Houston Fine Art Fair

Houston Fine Art Fair September 2014 Mark Borghi Fine Art, Inc. will reintroduce Minimal and Systemic painter Neil Williams’ work with works of his peers Helen Frankenthaler, Frank Stella, Larry Poons and John Chamberlain
Mark Borghi Fine Art Inc. is reintroducing minimal and systemic painter Neil Williams’ art (shown) and works of his peers Helen Frankenthaler, Frank Stella, Larry Poons and John Chamberlain. Houston Fine Art Fair/Facebook
Houston Fine Art Fair 2014 Kim Keun-Joong Natural Being
From the KP Project, Kim Keun-Joong's Natural Being. Houston Fine Art Fair
Houston Fine Art Fair September 2014 ArtSpeak studio sign
Check out ArtSpeak during the Houston Fine Art Fair. ArtSpeak/Facebook
Houston Fine Art Fair 2014 Nacho Rodriguez Bach Asterismos
Nacho Rodriguez Bach, Asterismos. Photo courtesy of Braulio Arsuaga
James Surls Surls on Kirby Tree with Three Flowers April 2014
James Surls has been named to the Houston Fine Art Fair Hall of Fame. Photo by Barbara Kuntz
Houston Fine Art Fair September 2014 Mark Borghi Fine Art, Inc. will reintroduce Minimal and Systemic painter Neil Williams’ work with works of his peers Helen Frankenthaler, Frank Stella, Larry Poons and John Chamberlain
Houston Fine Art Fair 2014 Kim Keun-Joong Natural Being
Houston Fine Art Fair September 2014 ArtSpeak studio sign
Houston Fine Art Fair 2014 Nacho Rodriguez Bach Asterismos
James Surls Surls on Kirby Tree with Three Flowers April 2014

A trip around the world with the possibility of falling in love with an international or local beauty, this is the weekend Rick Friedman, president of the Hamptons Expo Group, offers to entice Houstonians to come on down to the Fair. The Houston Fine Art Fair, that is.

When I called Friedman recently, hoping he could give me an insider’s peek at what to see at the Fair from Thursday through Sunday at NRG Center, I found myself wondering mid-conversation if this might be the closest I’ll ever come to interviewing a turn of the 20th century showman.

Friedman’s excitement about this year’s international and regional art wonders was so palpable, I could almost imagine him wearing a top hat and tails on the other end of the line. This art man's descriptions of the Fair as more than a collection of dealers but as an world-wide overview of contemporary art certainly sells a kind of dire warning for art lovers who miss this weekend: “You’re not going to see all these people at one time in one place, maybe ever again.”

This is your once in a lifetime opportunity was strongly implied, if never stated.

 Friedman’s excitement about this year’s international and regional art wonders was so palpable, I could almost imagine him wearing a top hat and tails on the other end of the line.  

Friedman also put emphasis on Houston’s reputation in the world as an international city what has shaped the Fair over four years.

“A lot of dealers have clients in the Houston area, and they want to see their clients. A lot of people have heard good things about the fact that the Houston market is sophisticated, has sophisticated museums, is affluent. They understand that it’s a vibrant, intelligent market that’s growing,” Friedman says.

He goes on to stress once more the international aspect of the Fair. “World-wide Houston is known and respected and this is why we can attract an international fair,” Friedman says.

With more than 60 exhibits from the United States and 17 countries, you can wander through letting the muse guide you to find your one true artwork or you can work methodically through the galleries. Whatever path you choose, here’s what you can’t miss.

Houston Artists Hall of Fame

For an art fair that’s taking us on a trip around the world, it still has its metaphorical feet planted firmly in H-Town’s freeway-laced ground. A centerpiece of the weekend will be the celebration of the homegrown art in the Houston Artists Hall of Fame.

The curated exhibition from Patricia Covo Johnson will showcase 50 Houston artists, who in Friedman’s words “helped pioneer and champion the town in its growth to being a major contemporary viable, pulsating growing market.”

Showstopper Installations

Keeping that balance between highlighting hometown art and Houston as an international city, several of the other large installations Friedman names as must-sees give us a view of the state of world art, including the KP Project featuring work by four of the hottest, up-and-coming Korean artists; the video installation and memory box On Noise, Sound & Silence, by Egyptian artist Khaled Hafez; and Nacho Rodriguez Bach’s interactive light and music installation Asterismos.

An Artist Lost and Found/A Houston Fav Comes Home

While no consummate showman, art-man would blatantly play favorites amid the galleries, Friedman does hope everyone will stop by Mark Borghi Fine Art to see some once-thought-lost work of Neil Williams. A pioneering Minimal and Systemic painter in the '60s and '70s, who worked with shaped canvases, Williams was a contemporary of Helen Frankenthaler, Frank Stella, Larry Poons and John Chamberlain, whose work will also be shown. Some of Williams’s paintings were thought lost or destroyed after his death in 1988.

 “We’re hoping that people fall in love, and you can fall in love all over the world here.” 

You also might want to play a game of spot the artist, and be on the lookout for James Surls at NRG. The Texas native who now lives in Colorado will be making an appearance as a “special favor” to Friedman.

Join the Conversation

We’re a bit biased about this one since the ArtSpeak panel discussions such as " 'Art Collide': Art Collecting 102 for Houston’s Young Contemporaries" and “Trends in Moving Image Art” are presented by CultureMap. “In the Legacy of Peggy Guggenheim: Collecting from the Female Perspective” will be led by our own Shelby Hodge.

This type of informative programming is not set up to force Fair-goers into art appreciation class, but instead to inspire. While HFAF might be familiar fare for experienced individual and institutional collectors, Friedman wants to make the possible first time buyers feel good about their experience this weekend, and ArtSpeak helps to give the knowledge they might need to make that first purchase.

“People get inspired,” he says. “They feel good about collecting. If they hear people talking about collecting art they just say: ‘I can do that. I can achieve that.’

"They feel better and confident about knowing more. They can ask the right questions.”

Fall in love

And once they have that knowledge and self-confidence, they might be ready to take the plunge and make that first purchase, which Friedman believes is a little like finding a first love. You never know, this might be the weekend to find that piece of beauty that will be yours to experience everyday.

“We’re hoping that people fall in love, and you can fall in love all over the world here.”