Move Over Miami. Hello, Houston

Catherine D. Anspon forecasts the highlights of year two. Who%26rsquo;s the HFAF 2012 Artist of the Year? Which powerhouse gallerists are coming to town? What are the most provocative panels, the sexiest parties? The brightest art stars? Fahrenheit, Foto and Focus, anyone? Read on.

Reliant Center as White Cube%26nbsp; %26nbsp;

For one night and three days this September, more than 10,000 pairs of art eyes %26mdash; seasoned to beginning collectors, museum types including directors and curators, wide-ranging media, avant-gardists and the merely curious %26mdash; will descend on Houston%26rsquo;s Reliant Center, a vast space used to crowds taking in pursuits from the Nutcracker Market to the Rodeo. Why here? Why now? The answer is compelling and succinct: Houston Fine Art Fair 2012 (HFAF). Surprising? No. With one of the top three communities of working artists in America, and a robust economy spun around museums, nonprofits and world-class galleries, Houston is a major player on the international art circuit. In recognition of that reality, Houston Fine Art Fair arrives this month for year two. And it%26rsquo;s bigger and better (and better vetted) than ever. Here%26rsquo;s our complete guide to the themes, behind-the-scenes and standouts, plus the scoop on the coveted Artist of the Year accolade. You get the picture.

Show Time%26nbsp;

You could go by the numbers. Seventy-plus galleries. 80,000 square feet. 11 countries. 32 cities. 2,000 works of art. But that would only be one portion of the story and not even hint at the compelling composition of this art fair%26rsquo;s canvas, which has transformed and evolved in the past 12 months since its strong, credible showing in 2011 into a convergence poised to become a phenomenon this year with an enticing yet thoughtful series of events %26mdash; panels, happenings, parties, tours and programming %26mdash; interwoven into the experience known as HFAF ARTWEEK.%26nbsp;

Hamptons to Nexus Texas %26nbsp;

September 13 through 16, Rick Friedman%26rsquo;s Hamptons Expo Group (HEG) returns to town, producing Houston Fine Art Fair 2012. Friedman%26rsquo;s other fair endeavors are known for their boutique scale, including ArtHamptons, as well as other tony fairs in Aspen, Palm Springs and San Francisco. Yet HEG%26rsquo;s initiative in Houston is arguably the one with the most primacy. For this city %26mdash;%26nbsp;recently cited by Forbes as the %26ldquo;Coolest%26rdquo; in America %26mdash; possesses the greatest frisson of collecting energy and visual arts dominance %26mdash; way above the pack, in fact. Astute NY-based eye Fran Kaufman is again involved, this year as creative consultant, joined by game-changing Fair Advisors Melissa Grobmyer and Janet Hobby of MKG Art Management.

%26nbsp;Houston to Zurich, Maracaibo to Seoul + Loving Latin American

On the playing field with an abundance of powerful to emerging Latin American types and coast-to-coast nationals, as well as those from the Asian and European continents, 17 Houston notables stand out, joined by the respected Dallas triad of Talley Dunn Gallery, Holly Johnson Gallery and Valley House Gallery %26amp; Sculpture Garden. And almost all the Houston dealers we surveyed plan specially curated booths that introduce monographic surveys (Focus); present works procured just for the Fair (a pristine Warhol double Jackie on a field of violet at Hiram Butler Gallery); or arrange an entire experience, as Barbara Davis has done via multiple booths, including one devoted to a site-specific installation by the unrivaled Houston artist Joe Mancuso. Within our hometown contingent other standouts are McClain Gallery, HQ for acclaimed former Core Fellow Aaron Parazette; McMurtrey Gallery, where Houston ab ex master Howard Sherman reigns; and Gallery Sonja Roesch, presenting %26ldquo;Latin Lights,%26rdquo; culled from her handsome stable of European and Texas minimalists. We%26rsquo;re also excited to investigate points of view from NY and LA. Among the Manhattan heavyweights, we%26rsquo;ll be heading first to Hollis Taggart Galleries (gazing upon an exquisite 1955 Milton Avery still life), Von Lintel Gallery, Pavel Zoubok Gallery, Margaret Thatcher Projects, and Schroeder Romero %26amp; Shredder (where a 1940 Man Ray is enticing). I personally will be perusing Ken Gonzales-Day%26rsquo;s photos that place art-historical sculptures in dialogue, at Los Angeles trend-spotter Luis De Jesus, as well as across the pond (London-based Cynthia Corbett Gallery, Zurich%26rsquo;s Galerie Kashya Hildebrand), extending to Asia (via Gallery Tableau, in from Seoul). Most significant of all %26mdash; and what will brand HFAF as unique and potentially extraordinary %26mdash; is the opportunity to explore in-depth the contemporary scene of Latin America via more than a dozen dealers, in from Caracas, Maracaibo, Mexico City, Monterrey, La Paz, Santiago, Bogot%26aacute; and even a pair from Havana (Collage Habana, La Casona). See the complete and rousing roster on the facing page.

Temperatures Soaring: Fahrenheit

Just like gold-standard Art Basel Miami Beach, organizing HFAF around thematic sections is intriguing and provides clarity for the viewer. One of the most dynamic of these arenas is Fahrenheit, a buzzing showcase for fresh dealers and the often even fresher talents they represent. Watch for notables Toca | Galeria of Mexico City and Monterrey-based Pristine Galerie alongside hometown dealer, the

Caribbean-born Zoya Tommy, whose PG Contemporary boasts a senior Japanese master Ushio Shinohara, whose wild self-portrait on a motorcycle is a metaphor for all the exuberance of this Fair.

On Our Radar: Focus%26nbsp;

The opportunity to explore a booth devoted to a sole individual talent amounts to a monographic mini-museum exhibition of sorts. Best bets include Eric Fischl%26rsquo;s evocative new figurative sculpture at Hexton Gallery; Swiss artist Katja Loher, whose videos have some of the production values of a Busby Berkeley musical (at Anya Tish); Devin Borden%26rsquo;s showing of Geoff Hippenstiel%26rsquo;s new abstractions; David Shelton%26rsquo;s presentation of eerie, film-noir-ish canvases by Texan Sara Frantz; and the always obsessive Ellen Frances Tuchman at Koelsch Gallery. We%26rsquo;re also enamored of the stellar Latin American-focused gallerists, including Houston%26rsquo;s own Sicardi Gallery, which showcases the king of chromo-saturation Carlos Cruz-Diez, and Mexico City dealer Antena Estudio, exhibiting newcomer Laura Ortiz Vega, whose paintings formed from embroidery thread re-contextualize the concept of women%26rsquo;s work.

In the Lens + Looking South%26nbsp;

The Fair%26rsquo;s love affair with the south %26mdash; as in, South America %26mdash; continues via a FotoFest-curated booth exhibiting the museum-caliber %26ldquo;Focus on Latin American Photography 1890s %26ndash;1940s,%26rdquo; culled from recently rediscovered archives from the Southern continent. On view are exceptionally rare images from Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Guatemala by artists who will be a revelation. The Fair also highlights a group of esteemed photography dealers in the Foto section: from the Mexico City-based Patricia Conde Galer%26iacute;a, to LA photo denizen Kopeikin Gallery, as well as the incomparable John Cleary Gallery
from Houston.

Let There Be Light!%26nbsp;

Another pervading HFAF sub-theme is the presence of light artists. From Romanian-born Texan Adela Andea%26rsquo;s display that resembles a coral reef at Anya Tish Gallery to Jay Shinn%26rsquo;s futuristic projections, which take up one space of Barbara Davis Gallery%26rsquo;s three booths; these beams, neons, fluorescents and rays, offer optimistic messages for the future. Also check out our cover artist, Korean light worker and show-stopper Chul Hyun Ahn, at C. Grimaldis Gallery. (Rumor has it Ahn has just been picked up by Saatchi.)

We%26rsquo;ve Got Talent: Artist of the Year

And for year two, HFAF has looked deeply within the state of Texas and anointed a two-time Whitney Biennial talent: Paris, Texas-raised Trenton Doyle Hancock, whose r%26eacute;sum%26eacute; includes countless international exhibitions as well as a 2002 Core Program residency. Hear Hancock on Sunday, September 16, and see his work at the MFAH Core Factor booth.

Cutting-Edge Core

Why is Houston on the international art map? One major reason is the MFAH%26rsquo;s cutting-edge artist residency, the Core Program at the Glassell School of Art. Top Houston collectors and constant Core supporters Brad Bucher and Victoria Lightman curate a selection of Core Fellows who%26rsquo;ve made the greatest mark on the contemporary scene, including Mequitta Ahuja, Mark Allen of LA%26rsquo;s Machine Projects, Amy Blakemore, Leandro Erlich, the aforementioned HFAF Artist of the Year Trenton Doyle Hancock, Todd Hebert,%26nbsp;Leslie Hewitt, MacArthur %26ldquo;Genius%26rdquo; Grant recipient Julie Mehretu, Demetrius Oliver, Aaron Parazette, Shahzia Sikander, and Hilary Wilder. And watch for a booth stocked with current Core Fellows, whose work is available for acquisition, with the proceeds going directly to the artists.



Tom Leighton%26rsquo;s Hollywood Land (detail), 2012, at Cynthia Corbett Gallery. Photo courtesy the artist and Cynthia Corbett Gallery, London.

Evgenia Arbugaeva%26rsquo;s Journey to the Lake September 2011, at Pictura Gallery. Photo courtesy the artist and Pictura Gallery, Bloomington, Indiana.

Jay Shinn%26rsquo;s Double Corner Bend, 2012, at Barbara Davis Gallery. Photo courtesy the artist and Barbara Davis Gallery, Houston.

Milton Avery%26rsquo;s Blue Bottle, 1955, at Hollis Taggart Galleries. Photo courtesy Hollis Taggert Galleries, New York, NY.

Geoff Hippenstiel%26rsquo;s Untitled, 2012, at Devin Borden Gallery. Photo courtesy the artist and Devin Borden Gallery, Houston.

Laura Ortiz Vega%26rsquo;s Coraz%26oacute;n, 2012, at Antena Estudio. Photo courtesy the artist and Antena Estudio, Mexico City.

Javier Pelaez%26rsquo;s Fake Flowers 1, 2012, at Toca|Galeria. Photo courtesy the artist and Toca|Galeria, Mexico City, Mexico.

Ushio Shinohara%26rsquo;s Self-Portrait, 2011, at PG Contemporary. Photo courtesy the artist and PG Contemporary, Houston.



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