Saturday, May 26, 2012

San Fransisco Art Fairs

By Patter Hellstrom

What makes San Francisco unique in the ever-growing world of international fairs? This viewer suggests that along with the standard fare, a new Bay Area aesthetic is developing through a mixture of collaborative technology, innovation and accessible art with a handmade quality.  Tech innovation is a given in San Francisco with biotech in Mission Bay, tech start-ups in South Park, the rising power of the Twitter-verse in the Mid-Market and venture capitalists encamped in Silicon Valley. Technology may appear to be the inverse of handcrafted art, one step removed from the artists’ hand. In the Bay Area these disparate impulses of technology and handcraft often emerge simultaneously and on rare occasion merge as well.

Sleek and sophisticated, Art MRKT offered over 70 modern and contemporary galleries with a mix of art from giants in the art making tradition like DeStaebler, Hockney, and Butterfield, to international works from Asia seen at Frey Norris Gallery, to a handmade soulful style emerging in San Francisco with the Bierboff's postcards at Eli Ridgeway, Laky’s language-based relief sculpture at Cain Schulte and Preds’ confiscated creations at  Jack Fischer galleries.
Elisheva Biernoff, Encounter, 2012, oil on plywood and acrylic on plywood, 2.5 x 2.5 inches and 2.75 x 2 inches (Eli Ridgeway Gallery).

Michele Pred, Travelers, 2011, 42 x 36 inches, airport confiscated scissors, wood and polyester, edition variete (Jack Fisher Gallery).
These standouts present ongoing excellent work that reaches the viewers on a personal level in scale, material and concept. With work so open and thoughtful, the viewer is drawn in with its’ authenticity.

Art MRKT also took a bold innovative step in programming in this their second year, offering private tours of collections. To say those collections were a treat is an understatement. The private collection visits complete the story. Galleries provide an array of art choices, the collectors shared their vision, telling their stories of a passionate trajectory in finding, curating and living with art.
Mary Daniel Hobson, Nocturne, 1999, kodalith and mixed media, 13" x 11" framed (private collection).
John Slepia, Stamen, 2009, mixed media, estimated size 14" x 10" x 10" (private collection).
ArtPad SF was the energetic, emerging and innovative center of the three fairs. ArtPad, a hotel fair with a motel edge, offered about 40 galleries surrounding a 1950’s vintage swimming pool, creating an oasis in the middle of the city. Johansson Projects offered a standout among those galleries with hybrid animal forms by Misako Inaoka.
Misako Inaoka, Flowers, 2012, mixed media 24 x 18 x 10 inches (Johansson Projects).
Inventive programming was offered like The Urban Canvas: Art and Technology Take Over, panel discussion.  ZERO 1 network of collaboration, offered focus to that discussion with its’ upcoming plans for their biennial Sept - Dec 2012, growing to cover the Bay Area with over 100 artists and 42 organizational partners that are regional, national and international. ZERO 1 designs platforms for artists to create innovative work exploring the role of art and technology as is seen at SFMOMA with Jim Campbell’s Exploded Views; a commissioned work installed in the atrium.  Upcoming The Bay Lights by Leo Villareal will light up a mile of the Bay Bridge with 25,000 LED lights in a spectacular marriage of art and tech. ArtPad also debuted Mark Pauline’s Spine Robot, designed for a theatrical urban event.

 SF Fine Art Fair offered 70 galleries and programming included a discussion with legendary artist William T. Wiley, Lifetime Achievement award for patron Mrs. Roselyn C. Swig, and the everyday revolution of art accessibility – the Mobile Photography exhibition.
Emily Rose, Conflict, limited edition print, 10 x 13 inches (The Mobile Photography Exhibition)
Here tech adds a layer of accessibility. ArtHaus Gallery presented this gem of a show that invited more than 2200 submissions from 114 countries making the quote, “the best camera is the one you have with you” relevant.  A ubiquitous camera phone in hand has become common to fair viewing, snapping a picture, a label and that amazing moment when we are filled with visual joy. Here those moments of reverie become an attentive exhibition.

Patter Hellstrom is an artist who lives and works in San Francisco.

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