Dallas Art Fair Draws Daring Collectors and Adventurous Dealers
Dallas collectors are edgier than you might think.
Featuring nearly 100 exhibitors from the US and cities as far as Bogotá and Hong Kong, the Dallas Art Fair is back for its seventh iteration. The doors open to the public this Friday, April 10, at the Fashion Industry Gallery in the Downtown Arts District. A preview gala April 9 benefits the Dallas Museum of Art, the Nasher Sculpture Center, and Dallas Contemporary, and gives VIPs a chance to pick up coveted works before the fair opens to the public.
Founded by dealer Chris Byrne and real estate developer John Sughrue, the fair is the centerpiece of Dallas Arts Week, for which area galleries and museums pull out all the stops. It was this time last year that George W. Bush opened a show of his paintings at his presidential library (see Impeach This Art? George W. Bush Has His Museum Debut in Dallas and Dallas Art Fair Draws Socialites and Good Ol’ Collectors Alike).
This year, you can see shows by David Salle and Nate Lowman (at Dallas Contemporary), Michael Craig-Martin (at public locations throughout Dallas) and Belgian artists Harald Thys and Jos de Gruyter (at The Power Station). There will also be performances by Ei Arakawa (at the Dallas Museum of Art) and Claude Rutault (at Meyerson Symphony Center) as well as the requisite festivities headlined by the Art Ball 50, the annual gala of the Dallas Museum of Art.
The fair presents a great opportunity to get a tour of the homes of some of Dallas’s most prominent collectors, who, according to some of the exhibitors we spoke with, are a lot more adventurous than you might expect.
“Dallas really has changed so much since I moved away in the early 2000’s,” said the Dallas-born, LA-based dealer Esther Kim Varet of Various Small Fires over email, “and I find the collector base extremely curious and supportive of what’s going on in LA. For example, there are savvy advisors like Cindy Schwartz and her daughter Robyn, who are out there really looking at what’s going on in LA. They have a good eye.”
The Schwartzes got behind one of Varet’s artists, the 75-year-old painter Mernet Larsen, whose work is currently on view at the gallery. “Because of them, we now have a really strong Dallas base going for the work and a very exciting museum acquisition being worked out for this upcoming fair.” According to Varet, who started doing the fair two years ago, the Dallas Museum of Art has a hold on three paintings.
“Dallas collectors are getting edgier, and really taking risks,” said Adrian Zuniga of Galeri Urbane Marfa + Dallas, noting that people commonly assume that conservative, old-money collectors would collect primarily mid-century art. “They’re not what you would think Dallas collectors would typically collect.”
For Galeri Urbane, which is marking its fifth time participating, the fair also offers a homey vibe, but with access to collectors from abroad. “Each year it gets more international,” Zuniga said, pointing out that exhibitors are coming from as far away as London and Rome. The gallery started in Marfa in 2002 and expanded to Dallas in 2009. But the international visitors are nothing new for them. “People fly in from all over the place, getting their trophies,” he said about the space in Marfa, including “tourists, people from New York, a lot of people from Europe.”
“The collector base in Dallas has been very progressive,” John Riepenhoff, of Wisconsin’s Green Gallery, told artnet News. “They’re looking to see new work.” Riepenhoff added that there’s not a lot of flocking to trendy artists the way one might see in cities like Miami. “Collectors buy what they’re passionate about. I haven’t really experienced speculation.” Another perk in Dallas is that there’s “a ton of hospitality,” he added. Green Gallery is bringing new work by Wisconsin artist Peter Barrickman and Chicago’s Michelle Grabner (who co-curated the 2014 Whitney Biennial—see Does the New Whitney Museum Herald a Golden Age for New York Institutions?).
For international dealers, the fair offers a stage to build their US visibility and present their American artists. Paola Capata, the director and owner of Rome’s Monitor gallery, decided to do Dallas because the gallery has been focused on the American market for a few years. “We opened our one-year project in New York at 195 Chrystie Street [on Manhattan’s Lower East Side] in September 2014,” Capata told artnet News over email. “Plus we are really focused on promoting our new American artist, Duane Zaloudek.” The gallery participates in as many as seven fairs per year including the Armory Show in New York, Liste in Basel, and FIAC, in Paris.
Dallas Art Fair, April 10-12, Fashion Industry Gallery, 1807 Ross Avenue.
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