South Florida can't seem to get enough contemporary art fairs.
When three fairs open this month in Broward and Palm Beach counties, visitors can find new works decorating white tents, sculpture gardens and multimillion-dollar homes on Fort Lauderdale's finger islands. Two of the fairs are new: Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary (Jan. 13-Jan. 15), taking over an air-conditioned tent in downtown West Palm Beach next to CityPlace. Also debuting is Art Fort Lauderdale (Jan. 12-Jan. 15), which uses the city's water taxi service to transport passengers to expensive, empty Las Olas homes stocked with art.
What is this, Art Basel part two?
"We don't see ourselves in a competition with Basel," says Evan Snow, one of Art Fort Lauderdale's co-founders. "People from Miami aren't coming to Broward for art, so we see this as a chance for local artists to show their true faces in Fort Lauderdale."
Below is a rundown on the three fairs opening within the next week.
Art Fort Lauderdale
1-8 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 12-Sunday, Jan. 15. The Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi departs from Bahia Mar Yachting Center, 801 Seabreeze Blvd.; tickets start at $35, plus $5 all-day parking at Bahia Mar; 954-361-4998 or ArtFtLauderdale.com
At Evan Snow and Andrew Martineau's new waterfront fair, both the art and the posh estates are for sale (Asking prices? $2.6 million and $25 million, but no pressure). To reach these waterfront digs, passengers must first board the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi at Bahia Mar Yachting Center.
"The New River is something we have right in our back yard, where people come to vacation," Snow says. "We want to make Fort Lauderdale a better place to live, not just a better place to vacation."
From there, visitors are shuttled to three properties, which become temporary art galleries for the weekend. Stop one, which the fair brands ArtInteractive, takes place on Isle Bahia inside a 9,000-square-foot home built for Oscar Meyer's granddaughter in the 1960s. Interactive installations, spread out along seven bedrooms, are curated by FAT Village artists Leah Brown, Peter Symons, Donna Haynes and others. Patrons can also don virtual-reality headsets and experiment with Google Tilt Brush, a 3D painting program.
Stop two is billed ArtIndie, in a $2.6 million home on Coconut Isle, which will feature more than 100 sculptures, photographs and paintings from local artists not yet represented by galleries. Fort Lauderdale-based Face2Face Studios will offer body painting from 1-8 p.m. Jan. 14. The final stop, titled ArtMasters, takes place at Ocean Land Investments Sales Center, and highlights works by Fort Lauderdale painter Barry Gross and digital-art pioneer Laurence Gartel.
Snow says traveling by car to the three properties isn't allowed – a security measure for the homes, which are empty, but staffed by a private security firm he hired. He expects patrons to spend at least half an hour at each stop before using the water taxis (there are two), which loop every 15 to 30 minutes. Free snacks are available on the water taxis, and passes include discounts to restaurants near Bahia Mar.
Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Jan. 13 and Jan. 14 and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Jan. 15 at 825 S. Dixie Highway and Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; $25, $55 for festival pass; 800-376-5850 or ArtPBFair.com
Created by the organizers behind Miami Art Week fairs Art Miami, Context and Aqua, this new fair will occupy a 65,000-square-foot tent next to CityPlace in downtown West Palm Beach.
Nick Korniloff, who programs the fair, says Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary targets well-heeled snowbirds and blue-chip collectors living on nearby Palm Beach island. (He expects plenty of casual art lovers, too.) There's one big difference between this event and the madhouse of fairs that descend on Miami Art Week each December: The pace will be slower.
"The pace is less frenetic and more laid back in Palm Beach. The mood and attitude will just be different. You'll feel it," Korniloff says. "There's a reason why there are 30-foot hedges and gated golf courses on Palm Beach island. People are very wealthy, but very private, and they're just not going to Miami for Art Basel. But they'll go to this art market."
Big-name contemporary artists, rather than emerging locals, top the bill of 1,000 artists from 50 international galleries. On display are works by Marc Chagall, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Ed Ruscha, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein.
Free shuttles will transport passengers every half hour, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily from the fair to nearby Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, a show partner, which is offering a new exhibit of animal-human hybrid sculptures by Sophie Ryder.
11 a.m.-7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 19, 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Jan. 20, 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Jan. 21 and 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Jan. 22 at Palm Beach County Convention Center, 650 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach; $8-$20, $10-$25 for festival pass; NextLevelFairs.com/ArtPalmBeach
The 20th annual fair will feature some 75 local (Miami, West Palm Beach) and international (Spain, Australia) galleries at the convention center.
ArtPalmBeach is the brainchild of Lee Ann Lester, also no stranger to Miami Art Week, who debuted her Concept art fair in December in Bayfront Park. She also programs Art Boca Raton every March in Mizner Park.
Art fairs like ArtPalmBeach thrive as art galleries struggle to survive in brick-and-mortar retail spaces, since booth space at pop-up fairs is cheaper, Lester says.
"The art fair is the new retail space," Lester says. "So is January a continuation of the Art Basel bubble? No, but it is a survival tool for galleries."
On tap at the fair is "100+ Degrees in the Shade," a group exhibit from curator Jane Hart, featuring more than 100 Florida works by 30 artists. There will also be a discussion on Marcel Duchamp timed to the 100th anniversary of his infamous urinal readymades, and a political installation from Miami artist Antuan Rodriguez, whose piece "The Other Dimension" depicts politicians' faces on punching bags.
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