Houston Fine Arts Fair Takes Off


%26ldquo;Our goal for the city%26rsquo;s first fine art fair is to create a terrific event that is representative of the diverse collecting practices in Houston. There are truly great contemporary, classic and Latin American collections here, and we sought to include galleries that present a clear point of view and a fantastic roster of artists in each of those areas.%26rdquo; %26mdash; Fran Kaufman, fair director

It%26rsquo;s About Time
You could say it will be the event of the fall, and that would not be hyperbole. When 80 dealers from 12 countries roll into town, the antennae of collectors,
gallerists, museum directors and curators, coast-to-coast and overseas media, and the merely curious go into high alert. Miami Beach has one, Dallas has one, even San
Diego does. Now%26nbsp; %26mdash; after years and years of waiting, and a full decade following Art Basel Miami Beach%26rsquo;s launch %26mdash; our burg gets its first international art fair when the Houston Fine Art Fair sets up shop at George R. Brown, September 16 through 18, with a Preview Party benefitting the MFAH%26rsquo;s Glassell School of Art Core Program on Thursday, September 15. We%26rsquo;ll be covering the aisles and aisles of art and reporting on the Fair%26rsquo;s must-sees, with a blog of the day, beginning opening night.

Joseph Cornell%26rsquo;s Object, 1944, at Schroeder Romero %26amp; Shredder.


Background Dish
How did the Houston Fair come to pass? Who had the guts and pockets to make it happen? Produced by the New York-based Hamptons Expo Group (HEG), the outfit is owned by Rick Friedman, a mogul and collector who professes a passion for abstract expressionism and who made his money as a publisher at the dawn of the computer age. Friedman has been coming here for the past year to garner support, participating in events from cocktails for the Houston Arts Alliance (HAA) %26mdash; one of its staunchest supporters %26mdash;%26nbsp;to buying tickets to major MFAH events, including the Latin American Experience Gala. (Late MFAH director Peter Marzio was a fan of Friedman
and his Aspen fair, and reportedly suggested Houston as an important, yet undiscovered fair locale.) To head the Fair VIP Committee, Friedman smartly invited the well-connected Marshal Lightman (part of an astute art power couple, with wife Victoria), who%26rsquo;s currently chairman of the board and committee chair for civic art and design with the HAA.

Williem de Kooning's The Birds, 1972, at Vincent Vallarino Fine Art.

What MakesThis Fair Different?
Director Fran Kaufman and crew have coaxed exhibitors whose programs are both adventuresome and cutting-edge, joining those who present canonical art history. In keeping with Houston%26rsquo;s position as a hotbed and epicenter of Latin American collecting, thanks to the MFAH%26rsquo;s 10-year-old Latin American department, the art and art history of the Southern continent is the strongest aspect of this fair, with an intriguing sub-theme bubbling up from Cuban contenders as well as participating dealers from Mexico City. Read On.

Marjorie Strider%26rsquo;s Green Triptych (detail), 1963, at Hollis Taggert Galleries.

Donald Sultan%26rsquo;s Aqua Lantern Flowers, 2010, at Meredith Long %26amp; Company. Photo by Thomas R. Dubrock.

Booth Buzz
Who and What We%26rsquo;ll Be Checking Out: Among the out-of-towners (and/or internationals), we%26rsquo;re most excited about Oscar Cruz Galeria (Sao Paulo); Document-Art (Buenos Aires); Arevalo Gallery (Miami) for its stellar Latin American; Ginocchio Galeria and Yam Gallery (both from Mexico City); Havana pair La Casona and Servando Galeria;
print haven ULAE (New York); Schuebbe Projects (Dusseldorf); Christies-owned and remarkably named Haunch of Venison (New York); Frey Norris Gallery (San Francisco), which emphasizes Asian, Islamic and even unexpected finds such as the corset of Frida Kahlo; MasArt Galeria (Barcelona); Amstel Gallery (Amsterdam); Pavel Zoubok Gallery (New York) for its commitment to collage; and cool contemporary Margaret Thatcher Projects (New York). Also, see some of our top picks on this page, including a
fabulous Marjorie Strider babe in a bikini at Hollis Taggart Galleries (New York) %26mdash; a genuine treasure from the early days of Pop art.%26nbsp;%26nbsp;

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David Kretschmer%26rsquo;s Mirrors %26mdash; Self-Portrait, 2011, at Amstel Gallery.


The Hometown Players
And which Houston galleries are stepping up to exhibit? Eight power player plus one up-and-comer are making a commitment, comprising a nicely balanced approximate 10 percent of the Fair. The first to sign up, McClain Gallery, is joined by Meredith Long %26amp; Company (representing the Fair%26rsquo;s Lifetime Achievement honoree Donald Sultan), Anya Tish Gallery, Barbara Davis Gallery, Colton %26amp; Farb Gallery, Darke Gallery, Hiram Butler Gallery, Moody Gallery and Sicardi Gallery.

Let%26rsquo;s Go to the Fair
The Stats: 80 exhibitors, 12 countries, 36 cities, 25 cultural and media partners (from FotoFest to the MFAH, and just in the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston), a (predicted)
10,000 visitors.%26nbsp;
Show Time: Preview Party Thursday, September 15, 6 pm, benefitting the MFAH Glassell School of Art Core Program. Fair Days Friday and Saturday, September 16 and 17, 11 am to 7 pm; Sunday, September 18, 11 am to 6 pm.
Where: George R. Brown Convention Center.
Note: After you%26rsquo;ve perused the Houston Fine Art Fair, head next door to check out the treasures at the HADA Fall Antiques Show %26amp; Sale.%26nbsp;
Tariff: From $17; Preview Party $100, includes three-day admission.
Contact: info@houstonfineartfair.com; houstonfineartfair.com.
See you there! We%26rsquo;ll meet you by the Mie Olise.

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Images:

William Steiger%26rsquo;s Aerial Survey, #2, 2011, at Margaret Thatcher Projects.

William Eggleston%26rsquo;s Tallahatchie County, Mississippi (from William Eggleston%26rsquo;s Guide), circa 1972, at David Lusk Gallery, Memphis.

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