It's all about unique new perspectives at the Texas Contemporary Art Fair, which features over 50 galleries specializing in the work of today’s most innovative artists.
“Everything’s going well so far and it’s still only the preview,” Fredericka Hunter, who founded Houston’s Texas Gallery in the late 1970s, said at the Thursday night event which kicked off the festival. “We were one of top 10 performing galleries at Art Platform-Los Angeles a few weeks ago. I hope it goes just as well this weekend.”
“Max Fishko [the fair’s director] comes from a long line of gallerists,” continued Hunter, who has remained a stong supporter of the event since its inception. “His family’s Forum Gallery in New York is one of the art’s most influential galleries, with works in major museums across the world.”
For the fair, Texas Gallery has focused on a number of Houston-based artists — Francesca Fuchs, Rachel Hecker, Susie Rosmarin, and David McGee — as well as high-profile artists like photographer William Wegman and realist painter Rackstraw Downs.
“With the down economy, many galleries are cutting back on the number of national and international fairs they can afford,” said Art Palace gallery owner Arturo Palacios. “But it’s wonderful to be in a town and art market you know.”
Project Row Houses — one of several non-profits at the fair, including Fotofest, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, and Glasstire (which had a miniature horse at its booth) — was promoting its current Communograph project, a series of events exploring the art of history-making in the Third Ward.
Arturo Palacios, who moved his Art Palace gallery from Austin to Houston in January 2010, was excited to gain new exposure within the city’s art community. His booth was drawing a number of passers-by trying to get a better look of a double-headed sheep wrapped in crocheted yarn, a 2009 piece by Elaine Bradford entitled Tragus Januali (Pushmi Pullyu) after the whimsical Dr. Doolittle creature.
“With the down economy, many galleries are cutting back on the number of national and international fairs they can afford,” he said. “But it’s wonderful to be in a town and art market you know.”
Local art bookseller Exquisite Corpse was busy throughout the much of the evening, selling first editions and rare art monographs. Owner David Aylsworth, who also paints, had a bold abstract painting named “Hungry Yearning Burning” on display next door at the Inman Gallery, another key gallery in the early organization of the fair which was also showing work by rising art-star Dario Robleto.
Marisa Sage, who owns the Brooklyn-based gallery Like the Spice (ha, get it?), already made a number of sales two hours into the preview party. “This year, we’ve done shows in San Fransisco, New York, the Hamptons, and Miami,” she said. “So far, we’re off to a phenomenal start.”
Both guests and gallerists alike noted a rather upbeat and personable atmosphere at the preview, speaking volumes to director Max Fishko’s goal of enabling “conversations on what’s currently happening in art.”
“There’s a definite spirit of inquiry tonight,” said Yana Balson from Fred Torres Collaborations, who had work from major artists Alessandro Twombly and David Lachapelle. “We have had much more interaction at this show than at many of our previous fair experiences in the past few years.”
For a mere $35, noted Houston art collector Judy Nyquist purchased a painted bottle from noted local artist Bill Davenport, one a of number of artist’s at the preview offering work under $100.
“Before this fall, the art world was skeptical about the staging of a show this size in Houston,” she said. “It’s truly amazing to see so many people here tonight, to see the city coming out to support a contemporary art event like this.”
Texas Contemporary Art Fair runs through Sunday at the George R. Brown Convention Center (Hall A). One-day tickets are $20. Click here for details and schedule.