It is Art Fair week in San Francisco again and everyone is anticipating a great showing this year. Like last year there will be three venues – artMRKT, ArtPadSF, and the San Francisco Fine Art Fair– with different moods and aesthetics for each. I am looking forward to going to the Concourse Center to see artMRKT and the Phoenix Hotel for ArtPadSF, where the work, to my mind, is more visually interesting and has an edge to it. The San Francisco Fine Art Fair at Fort Mason, if it is anything like it was last year, will have mostly commercial works, a good number of secondary dealers, and works that are less engaging overall, with a few exceptions.
The line up for the San Francisco Fine Art Fair at Fort Mason is a mixture of primary and secondary dealers. George Krevsky Gallery and The McLoughlin Gallery will be among the San Francisco dealers represented. Among the Oakland galleries showing are Vessel Gallery, The Wall Gallery, Studio Quercus, and Slate Gallery. Some of those making the trip into town to exhibit are Gallery M from Denver and ASART from London.
Among the exceptional galleries showing at Fort Mason is White Walls, a San Francisco gallery off the beaten path in the tenderloin district of the city known for exhibiting a number of young and emerging graffiti artists. In the lineup are also two Oakland galleries of note, Chandra Cerrito Contemporary and Magnolia Editions. Chandra Cerrito Contemporary is known for supporting both emerging and established artists in the bay area. Magnolia Editions is known especially for producing fine artist tapestries in limited editions. These three galleries are what I am looking forward to seeing when I get there and I am hoping for a surprise.
The special events at the San Francisco Fine Art Fair are the presentation of a lifetime achievement award to Ms. Roselyne C. Swig for the benefit of ArtCare, which is a program for raising funds to restore the works of art owned by the City and County of San Francisco. Also featured are a retrospective of works by William T. Wiley, which will be located at the front of the fair, and an interview of him by Dewitt Cheng happening on Sat., May 19th from 4 – 5pm. There is also an opening night patron, preview party that benefits the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
The artMRKT fair at the San Francisco Concourse Exhibition Center arrived on the scene last year for the first time and made quite a splash by gathering a large number of the major dealers from San Francisco and a number of notable out of town galleries as well. This year’s list is longer than last year, with a slightly different mix, but regardless it is expected to be outstanding again this year. Major San Francisco galleries include the Catharine Clark Gallery, Jack Fischer Gallery, Cain Schulte Contemporary Art, Brian Gross Fine Art, Gallery Paule Anglim, Eli Ridgway Gallery, Patricia Sweetow Gallery, Paul Thiebaud Gallery, Dolby Chadwick Gallery, and the Andrea Schwartz Gallery. One new San Francisco gallery of note is Ever Gold Gallery, who is showing for the first time at the fair this year. Notable visiting galleries include Cynthia Reeves Projects from New York, Jordan Faye Contemporary from Baltimore, Jill George Gallery from London, and the George Lawson Gallery from Los Angeles.
Special events for the artMRKT include an opening night preview party benefitting the de Young and Legion of Honor Museums, offsite tours of notable private and non-profit art collections in San Francisco, and a series of presentations and talks on topics such as The Culture of Beauty: The Aesthetes and Interior Design on Friday, May 18th at 2:30pm; Emerging Asian Markets on Sat., May 19th at Noon; a keynote by Richard Misrach and Aperture Foundation on Sat. at 2pm; and a talk about The Contemporary Art Market: New Art for a New World on Sat., at 4pm. Events on Sunday include a discussion with artist Hung Liu about her work and a presentation about the ceramicist Stephen De Staebler.
The most raucous fair, both visually and in spirit, is ArtPadSF at the Phoenix Hotel. This fair has been around for a number of years now and has gathered a reputation for showing work by artists that is more “low brow”, “emerging”, “counter culture”, and rougher in style. Either way, they always have the best party on opening night. The Phoenix Hotel is a trendy boutique hotel built as a motor lodge in the 1950s and has had a long history of hosting rock and roll bands within its walls. With the rooms arranged around a central swimming pool, visitors are never far from the center of the party.
While the hotel has fewer spaces for exhibitors, there are some notable local galleries exhibiting there this year. Steven Wolf Fine Arts, The Luggage Store Gallery, Toomey Tourell Fine Art, Project One Gallery, Varnish Fine Art, and Marx & Zavattero are among the San Francisco galleries that are worth seeking out. Galleries that have hopped the bay from Oakland include Mercury 20, Johansson Projects, and Swarm Gallery. Visiting galleries from around the country that should not be missed include Mark Moore Gallery and Walter Maciel Gallery, both from Los Angeles, Winkleman Gallery and Lyons Wier Gallery, both from New York, and Carmen Wiedenhoeft from Denver.
In addition to the opening night benefit for the 2012/2013 SECA Award at SFMoMA, special events at ArtPadSF include performances from Brontez Purnell and Amara Tabor-Smith, the music of Martin Luther, an acapella performance by The Loose Interpretations and a video screening by Wholphin all happening on Thurs. May 17th. On Friday, May 18th, there are a number of panel discussions on various topics, including Where Does Art Breath?, Depth of Field: Contemporary Art Comes into Focus, and the Artable Panel Discussion. Sat., May 19th has both performances and panels being held also, the most notable of them being the City Arts & Lectures Pop Up with Leo Villareal at 11am.
Whether you are looking for work that is edgy, trendy, low brow, street based, restrained, classically modern, challenging, or pedestrian in nature, the three art fairs happening this weekend will give you something to look at, and, hopefully, buy. I hope to see you out and about over the next four days for all of the sights, sounds, and experiences being offered.
artMRKT is located at the Concourse Exhibition Center. 670 7th St., San Francisco. Opening Night, Thurs. May 17, Hours: 6 – 8pm Preview Reception, 8 – 10pm Opening Night Party. Fri. and Sat. Hours: 11am – 7pm. Sun. Noon – 6pm. Parking on the street and in an adjacent parking lot.
Free Shuttle Buses service will transport fair attendees between the artMRKT and ArtPadSF fairs, with a stop at the Asian Art Museum, where your ticket will get visitors reduced admission to see the Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the past, the newest exhibition at the museum. Shuttle busses will operate in both directions between fairs during scheduled shuttle hours at approximately 20-25 min. intervals.
ArtPadSF is located at the Phoenix Hotel. 601 Eddy St. San Francisco. Opening Night, Thurs., May 17, Hours: 6 – 8pm Opening Benefit Preview, 8 – 10pm Opening Benefit Party. Fri. – Sat., Noon – 8pm. Sun. Noon – 5pm. Benefit for the Black Rock Arts Foundation (BRAF) 7pm – 1am Friday, 6pm VIP entry. Parking on the street and in parking garages nearby. Valet Parking available on Thurs. night only.
The San Francisco Fine Art Fair is being held at the festival arts pavilion at Fort Mason, located at the intersection of Marina Blvd. and Buchanan Streets in San Francisco. Hours: 11am – 7pm Thurs. – Sat. Sun. 11am – 6pm. Lifetime achievement presentation Thurs. 5 – 7 pm.