After successful inaugural runs in 2011, both the Houston Fine Art Fair (HFAF) and the Texas Contemporary Art Fair will return to Houston in 2012 — but not without some major changes.
Many in the Houston art community hoped to see a resolution between the dueling fairs, resulting in a larger combined event or two annual shows in different seasons. Unfortunately, as the legal battle continues between the production companies, the schedule will be identical to last year, with two fairs occurring only a month apart.
Still, don't expect a repeat performance from either show.
Organizers for each event have stressed efforts to up the ante, particularly the Houston Fine Art Fair. Booth space has yet to be offered for either show, but by the summer a full roster of participants should be available.
Many in the art community hoped to see the dueling fairs merge into a larger combined event or host two annual shows in different seasons. But as the legal battle continues, the schedule will be identical to last year. Still, don't expect a repeat performance from either show.
Houston Fine Art Fair: Sept. 14 to 16, 2012
The biggest change for the HFAF will be its relocation from the George R. Brown, which hosted the show in 2011, to the Reliant Center — a slightly larger exhibition space but further from many of the city's popular restaurants and hotels, not to mention the Museum District.
John Harris of the Houston First Corporation, which organizes events at the George R. Brown, said that while his organization offered several dates for the fair, they were unable to secure the times requested by HFAF organizers.
"We're stepping up the game this year," Rick Friedman, president of HFAF parent company Hamptons Expo Group, tells CultureMap, noting that Reliant offers more wall space in the booths as well as additional room for installation pieces and non-profit areas.
"At the moment, we're in the process of hiring new programming staff," he says. "We're planning something more like Art Basel Miami — a major show that attracts an international crowd."
Fran Kaufman, who served as director for the HEG Group's 2011 fairs, says she will take on a slightly smaller role at the 2012 Houston show as a creative consultant while she focuses more time towards her New York-based art advisory firm.
New to the staff line-up is former ArtForum promotions manager Ruth Fruehauf, who will head the fair's sales team. Also joining the team are show advisors Melissa Grobmyer and Janet Hobby, whose Houston agency MKG Art Management will oversee audience development, programming and special events, as well as the show's overall look and feel.
"At the moment, we're in the process of hiring new programming staff," Friedman explained. "We're planning something more like Art Basel Miami, a major show that attracts an international crowd."
"Our goal is to make this a citywide event," Grobmyer says. "Ultimately, we want to grow the fair into the leading art platform in this part of the county."
Proceeds from sales at the fair's opening night preview gala will benefit the Glassell School at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston for the second year in a row.
Texas Contemporary Art Fair: Oct. 19 to 21, 2012
Fair director Max Fishko vowed to return to Houston, even as gallery owners packed up their booths at the first Texas Contemporary show, which focused almost entirely on living artists, with an extra nod to those based in Texas.
"Enough people came to the events this October to let us know it went well," he tells CultureMap. "I think we ended up making a very clear statement about who we are as a contemporary art fair."
Fishko says his production company, artMRKT, plans for an even broader range of exhibitors for the 2012 event and will have a better sense of programming once the participating galleries are finalized by the spring. A host committee will be announced shortly.
"Judging from the excitement among gallery owners and attendees, I can't imagine anyone not wanting to return," says Patrick Reynolds, director of the Inman Gallery. "We're definitely planning to come back next year."
Like the HFAF, Texas Contemporary also will stage an opening night benefit preview with proceeds, once again, going to Contemporary Art Museum Houston.
"We love our relationship with Texas Contemporary," says CAMH director Bill Arning. "They treat us very well, and we're looking forward to round two."