Seattle Art Fair’s second year: Voices and Visions from the Art Fair and beyond

Seattle Art Fair’s second year: Voices and Visions from the Art Fair and beyond
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Courtesy of Seattle Art Fair, 2016.
Courtesy of Seattle Art Fair, 2016

Co-authored by Michael Foster

Seattle is known for many things: Microsoft, Grunge, the Space Needle, Starbucks, Amazon, the Seahawks, being the closest major city in the Pacific Northwest to the Canadian border – and the list keeps growing. Before last year, we were not known as being one of those cooler-than-cool art fair cities like Miami or New York. In stepped Paul Allen, and he decided to create something else big and bold for our fair city to be known for: the Seattle Art Fair.

The second annual Seattle Art Fair, presented by AIG and co-produced by Vulcan Inc. and Art Market Productions, is now a part of Seattle’s art history. Paul Allen’s vision of having Seattle’s own international art fair happened again, and this time it grew larger and there were more satellite exhibits, readings, programs, and special events than at last year’s inaugural exhibit. Several new galleries from New York came, and Carrie Brownstein and Kyle MacLachlan of Portlandia dropped in to talk about their perspective on growing up in the Northwest, and their thoughts on careers, life, and each other to a capacity crowd on Saturday afternoon.

This year, the fair was attended by 18,000 visitors, and it showcased 84 local, national, and international galleries. If there’s a lingering feeling in the air beyond art rapture overload, it’s just that it was all over too soon and one long weekend just wasn’t enough. Maybe next year an entire week could be devoted to the fair, and it will become Seattle Art Fair week. One gallery owner I spoke with was even dreaming of longer term changes, and wondered whether an October date would be a better time of year for the Seattle Art Fair. There’s nothing like the autumn chill to make people want to visit galleries and museums.

Paul G. Allen, founder of the Seattle Art Fair, entrepreneur, philanthropist

“I had a crazy idea this just might work, and here we are in the second year.”

Margaret Kelly, Pace/MacGill Gallery / New York City

“Pace has been here for both years, and Pace/MacGill was added this year. This is a fantastic event. Seattle’s such a great community. People keep returning. There are every type of collector coming to our booth – longer-term collectors and new and emerging collectors. Everyone comes up and ask a lot of questions about the art. People are discovering new work, both from unknown and established artists. People of every age have loved the James Turrell hologram room.

Courtesy of Seattle Art Fair, 2016. Pace/MacGill Gallery. James Turrell.

Pat Palermo, Allan Stone Projects, New York City

“I would just say that people here are very open to the work, and they’ve expressed a lot of generosity. People have actually thanked us for bringing certain pieces here, which is refreshing. New Yorkers are a bit more jaded. They don’t thank you for bringing artwork to a fair. It’s very well organized, and we’ve done well, so I can say confidently that if they do it again next year, we’ll be back.”

Courtesy of Seattle Art Fair, 2016. Allan Stone Projects. Willem de Kooning, 1966.

Gail Severn, Gail Severn Gallery, Ketchum, Idaho

“We’ve had a lot of interest in the work we represent, from local people and visitors who came to acquire, and add to their collections. And many people from Seattle who just love art came to the Art Fair. The overall level of all the galleries is wonderful.”

Kevin Van Gorp, 101/EXHIBIT, Los Angeles

“For our second showing with the Seattle Art Fair, our gallery chose a more traditional approach and curated a booth that focused on the human figure. As opposed to last year when we strove to appeal to the technological sensibilities of the local economy (3D printed, augmented, and virtual reality art), this year was a litmus test on a time-tested model; figurative painting. We brought back Ian Ingram, for whom we made a major sale the first year, two younger artists Robin Eley and Kristen Schiele, and work from 20 century master Larry Rivers. As 101/EXHIBIT has recently gained representation for the Larry Rivers Foundation, we were able to put rare late-career works into context with young, cutting-edge artists practicing today. Our vision was very well received, proving that Seattle is interested in a spectrum of art genres.”

Courtesy of Seattle Art Fair, 2016. 101/EXHIBIT. Robin Eley.

Ann-Marie Stillion, Photographer, Curator of In Context satellite exhibit, Seattle

“We chose the best artists in the city for our show, and they just happened to be women.”

Jim Robischon, Robischon Gallery, Denver

“People are a lot more cerebral here than at the art fair in Miami. For people in Seattle, the art they are interested in seems to be about ideas. And that’s great for us, because our gallery is all about ideas. Our large surreal photos on the back wall are iconic images created by two artists who met in college, one American and one British. Beyond photography, they make sculpture and paintings. But one of the things I like most about them is the long narratives they create about their photos,that are vast, epic, and mysterious. They make up stories about people traveling to far away made-up lands. So, mythology is an integral component of their work.”

Robert Yoder, SEASON Gallery, Seattle

“I think they did an excellent job on the Seattle Art Fair this year. The first year had some growing pains, but in the second year the wonderful mix of small and large-size galleries felt just right. Seattle galleries had a strong presence at the fair, and I would say we were on par with the large east coast and international galleries.”

Courtesy of Seattle Art Fair, 2016. SEASON Gallery. Anthony Palocci Jr.

Sharon Arnold, Bridge Productions, Seattle

“I think Seattle galleries are strongly representing the Pacific Northwest. It’s exciting for Seattle to have an event of this caliber and with artists of this level. When Pace, David Zwirner, and all these large east coast galleries to come here is meaningful, and for Seattle to be so well represented and get a glimpse of what’s going on elsewhere is important.”

Dawna Holloway, Studio e Gallery, 3 Rooms satellite exhibit, Seattle

“Beyond having this wonderful space at King Street Station, and showing so many great local artists, we’re so happy to have the support of the City of Seattle, SDOT and Greg Lundgren. And we’re not leaving here until they change the locks.”

Matt McMurry, Treason Gallery, satellite exhibit at The Piranha Shop, Seattle

“It was emotional to feel the energy of the city directed toward art. And it was a privilege to host a dynamic show that withheld the formal gallery setting while simultaneously transforming some of the Seattle public landscapes. Much thanks to the artists and foundations that were essential its production.”

June Sekiguchi / ArtXchange Gallery / In Context satellite exhibit, Seattle

“This year’s Seattle Art Fair feels more settled, and visitors and residents of Seattle realize there are more opportunities at venues around the fair to see artwork, performances and events. People are going into this year’s fair expecting more, and this year’s fair is delivering much more. I think the expectation about what is possible is building, and I look forward to seeing what happens next year.”

Xavier Lopez, Jr. / La Cocina satellite exhibit, Seattle

“I hope the Seattle Art Fair continues for years and years and just gets bigger and bigger and surpasses Miami and LA and New York – because, you know what Seattle? You deserve this! You deserve to take full advantage of this – all of it! Now is the time to grow that big head you have always wanted, make big art and show the world what we do when Art and Culture are the next big Nirvana! We are amazing, our artists are amazing and we ARE the cultural seat of the Pacific Northwest. When people make lists of the “Top Ten” or even the top five cities in the nation – for pretty much anything or everything – Seattle is always in the top four or five. Do a mental inventory – make a list of top American cities for anything cool and what do you get? New York, LA, maybe Miami, and then you get Seattle – am I right? Yes. Of course, I am.”

Tomio Koyama, Tomio Koyama Gallery, Tokyo

“It’s so good to come here to Seattle, and see how a stronger bridge is forming in a cultural sense. We’re glad to have a hand in helping to build this bridge, and be part of a naturally forming Pacific Rim connection. In Seattle and Tokyo, it’s only going to help all the arts to create more of an exchange of the visual arts.”

Kate Sweeney, Artist, In Context satellite exhibit, Seattle

“The first year of the Seattle Art Fair was so awesome for our city. It galvanized and energized us all. It made artists so proud of what we’re doing here, and then being able to see what was coming in from all over the world for our art fair. The In Context satellite exhibit brought together a group of women artists, and allowed us to show together in this great space. To see how all our work converged and came together in a cohesive and engaging exhibit is heartening.”

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