By Sandra Schulman
OK: It’s not really a battle of art fairs this month; it’s more like a visually gorgeous friendly skirmish, with established fairs, newcomers and pop-ups competing for art lovers’ eyes and wallets.
What used to be a week has now expanded to almost the whole month as a major new fair, the Palm Beach Modern and Contemporary Fair, gets the jump on Art Palm Beach and a new arts district rises out of the warehouse district south of downtown West Palm Beach.
The Palm Beach Modern and Contemporary Fair (Jan. 12-15) rolls into town on Thursday, a full week before Art Palm Beach, which will be celebrating its 20th year when it opens Jan. 18.
Produced by Art Miami Group, the fair opens with a VIP preview Thursday with work from more than 1,000 artists in a 65,000-square-foot open pavilion centrally located between City Place and the Hilton West Palm Beach at 825 S. Dixie Highway and Okeechobee Boulevard. This fair is from the veteran fair group that is behind Art Miami and Art Southampton, tapping into the rising art tide in West Palm.
“I’m excited to bring a world-class international modern and contemporary fair back to the city of West Palm Beach and Palm Beach County,” said Nick Korniloff, director and partner for Art Miami Group. “As a resident of Palm Beach, and someone who is very plugged in culturally, there is a very new energy being built around the arts in the city of West Palm Beach. We are a big part of that energy and freshness. The county has tremendous cultural assets and international appeal for those who are into culture, philanthropy and like the finer things in life, with a growing audience to match.”
Art lovers will be pleased to see galleries from as far away as Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Venezuela. Along with the new fair is a new outside exhibition, as the fair has partnered with the historic Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens in the El Cid neighborhood, with a special exhibit of artist Sophie Ryder’s monumental and small-scale works.
The fair will kick off with an event titled “Evolution of an Artist,” presented by the Cultural Council of Palm Beach at the Kravis Center’s Cohen Pavilion, where Bernie Taupin, better known as the lyricist for Elton John, will discuss his career and evolution as an artist. A special selection of Taupin’s works will be on exhibit and for sale at the luncheon. Also at the fair, visual and recording artist ABH (Al Baseer Holly) mounts his successful “Childhood Access Memories Exhibition.”
The opening night VIP preview is from 5 to 9 p.m. Thursday ($150); general fair days are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Call 1-800-376-5850, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.artpbfair.com.
Art Palm Beach (Jan. 18-22) has been the pioneer fair for Palm Beach for 20 years. It attracts a more mature crowd but has been welcoming more young artists and galleries in recent years, such as the stable that exhibits at the ArtSynergy booth. The fair focuses on big ticket items with everything from Picassos to Frank Stellas.
The fair also exhibits furniture, vintage posters and antiques such as books, polo mallets and clocks. According to the fair’s data, more than 24 percent of the world’s wealthiest families reside in South Florida from January through April and they come to the fairs dressed to the nines with pampered pooches and art advisers in tow. They buy for their Florida winter homes as well as their summer houses.
This year, 85 international galleries will be exhibiting, as the fair celebrates its 20th anniversary with a curated exhibition highlighting the works of modern masters including Picasso, De Kooning, Francis Bacon, Rauschenberg, Dali, Lichtenstein, Moore, Calder, Jeff Koons, and Warhol. Art historians will lead curated tours and daily collector talks on the special fair exhibition.
Outside at the entrance plaza of the Convention Center, there will be a special exhibition of monumental sculpture by Manolo Valdés. The exhibition, by Opera Gallery booth at Art Palm Beach, will focus on many of the artists recent sculptures including Flori, Ivy, Cabeza, Reina Mariana and Cabeza con Mariposas Paleda, which was recently exhibited at the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
Valdés’ sculptures are made primarily of aluminum, bronze, and wood.
Born in Valencia, Spain, he works in his studios in New York and Madrid. He recently bought a home in Miami, where he can see his sculptures sitting in his tropical gardens from his living-room windows.
Also at Art Palm Beach is the ArtSynergy booth, which will exhibit top area artists including Dana Donaty, Mark W. Forman, Gary Kroman and Elle Schorr. Art Synergy is a countywide movement to unify and promote the diverse culture of Palm Beach County’s vibrant arts community. At The Box Gallery, curator Rolando Chang Barrero heads up Art Synergy and also his own gallery, which this debut year brings together top curators and their choices of artists to keep an eye on. Curators are Bruce Helander, Paul Fisher, Jane Hart, Marisa J. Pascucci, Lee Ann Lester, Debby Coles-Dobay, and Noor Blazekovic in a reception Jan. 20 at 811 Belvedere Road.
“I’m very happy ArtSynergy has taken off in a grand way,” says Chang Barrero, “and our partnership with Art Palm Beach has been phenomenal for exposure and connecting the regional art scenes with the international ones.
“With two major fairs downtown and multiple art events nearby, this art week will encapsulate why West Palm Beach has developed into such a major art scene. My exhibit at The Box Gallery celebrates the curators and artists that make all this happen,” he said.
First view of Art Palm Beach is Wednesday, Jan. 18, from 6-10 p.m. Public fair days are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
A one-day pass is $15, and a multi-day pass is $20. Student one-day passes are $8, and are available, along with other information, at nextlevelfairs.com/artpalmbeach.
Continuum WPB Arts (Jan. 18-28) is a pop-up multimedia art fair downtown that exhibits regional South Florida artists. The event is a two-week expo that explores innovative art programming for the community. Now in its fourth year, the fair will be located at CityPlace at the site that was formerly Brookstone. Last year the fair was on Clematis Street; this year the shifting real estate at CityPlace allows art lovers a venue that is walking distance to the fairs on Okeechobee.
For more information about times and events, visit www.continuumwpbarts.com.
Also that week, Art Synergy hosts a one-night Art Unleashed Fair at 1500 Elizabeth Ave. in the Warehouse District south of Okeechobee Boulevard. Chang Barrero promises a salt installation by Giannina Dwin featuring 500 pounds of salt, for a one-time-only exhibit. More information is available here.