After a rockin' opening night party and overwhelmingly positive reviews from gallerists and collectors alike, the second annual Texas Contemporary show certainly made its mark on the city's fall art scene.
To get a sense of how this year's event compared to the 2011 inaugural effort, CultureMap caught up with Jeffery Wainhause of artMRKT, the production company behind the recent Houston fair as well as major shows in San Francisco, the Hamptons and Miami.
" Judging from what we've heard from gallery owners, we really hit it out of the park this time," said fair organizer Jeffery Wainhause. "People were extremely enthusiastic and sales appeared strong."
"With more than 10,000 visitors, it looks like we had a slightly larger crowd than the first show," he reported during a phone interview from Brooklyn, where artMRKT has been based since it was founded in early 2011.
"In the last two years, though, we've learned that attendance numbers are not the most important factor. They're a great sign, but we usually gauge the overall success of a fair by the happiness of our constituents. Judging from what we've heard from gallery owners, we really hit it out of the park this time. People were extremely enthusiastic and sales appeared strong."
Wainhause said his team concentrated on the overall feel of the show, searching for ways to maintain a flexible and friendly open space capable of handling regular bursts of heavy traffic. Co-organizer Max Fishko, meanwhile, focused on vetting the fair's 65 galleries.
"Max did a wonderful job juxtaposing galleries that show newer and older examples of contemporary art. When the level and quality of the artwork is so high, the fair is easy after that."
Having a better sense of the city's collectors and art institutions was paramount to the success of this year's show, explained Wainhause.
"Houston's collector base is broad and very sophisticated. Gallerists across the nation are starting to take note of the city."
"Houston's collector base is broad and very sophisticated," he said. "Gallerists across the nation are starting to take note of the city, because dealers are able to bring some of their more challenging work here."
To avoid scheduling the fair during the Dallas Museum of Art's annual TWO x TWO art auction, artMRKT will stage Texas Contemporary a weekend earlier in 2013 to better reach its north Texas audience.
"We're not looking to get bigger next year, but we are hoping to make the show even stronger. We're also going to expand our national marketing campaign for Texas Contemporary. It's time to let the rest of the country know about what we're doing in Houston."