From Düsseldorf to Havana, Houston Fine Art Fair garners an internationalcoterie of galleries
When the Houston Fine Art Fair lands at the George R. Brown Convention Center from Sept. 15 to 18, international art collectors and local patrons will witness a global gamut of galleries. During a special presentation on Monday evening at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, the fair's organizers revealed a partial list of participants, which will eventually number approximately 80 galleries showcasing post-war and contemporary art.
"With almost every gallery I talk to, I hear about how this city has become so interesting to them, and that they have many collectors here," said HFAF director Fran Kaufman. "It's generated a lot of interest and buzz."
Included on the fair's international roster are galleries from Barcelona, Berlin, Bogota, Düsseldorf, Havana, Mexico City, Paris and São Paulo. The prevalence of Latin American representatives is no mistake, as the fair places an emphasis on art (and collectors) from the region.
The fair has also culled an impressive array of presenters from the national art centers of Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and New York, but strikingly, HFAF will also feature blue chip galleries from more under the radar burgs, such as Albuquerque, Baltimore, Charlotte, Memphis and San Antonio. In attendance at Monday's presentation were representatives of William Shearburn Gallery in St. Louis and Los Angeles' Louis Stern Fine Arts.
The mood was distinctly optimistic in the Beck Building lobby as Rick Friedman, president of the fair's overseer, Hamptons Expo Group, declared, "Houston is a great art market. There are 100 museums in this town and 65 galleries. There are tremendous patrons here and a growing collector base. I spoke to a number of major galleries in the country, and they said that, more and more, art is going to Houston. The city is ripe for a major art fair."
VIP chair Marshal Lightman said that the fair's impetus derives from Friedman's meeting the late MFAH director Peter Marzio at Art Aspen, which is also operated by the Hamptons Expo Group. As a member of the Houston Arts Alliance board, Marzio was attuned to HAA's wish to bring a major art event to Houston as part of the organization's strategic plan. Friedman visited Houston and saw what he described as the "opportunity to build one of the great art fairs in America."
The fair is already spiked with special events and beneficiaries. In its inaugural year, HFAF will feature the dedication of a lifetime achievement award. The 2011 recipient is internationally-renowned (and Meredith Long & Co.-exhibited) artist Donald Sultan.
"Sultan has done tremendous work," Freidman said of the artist best known for fresh takes on still lifes via solid black negative space and splashy-hued flowers.
An Opening Night Preview Party on Sept. 15 will benefit the Glassell School of Art's Core artist and critic residency program. The Core spotlight segues into the actual fair as fellows are granted a booth with the option to sell their work. The as-yet-announced 2011 fellows will also enjoy their first public debut at HFAF.
Additionally, a lecture program that caters to both the novice and expert collector is part of the fair agenda. The talks will mingle curators from across the country with local collectors and art professionals as they discuss such topics as Latin American art, photography and the relationship between art and money.