Market Art + Design Brings Hip Galleries and Celebrity Artists In Search Of Summer Money

Pick up works by Dave Eggers and John Mellencamp.

Anne Menke, Happy Donkey (2014) at Clic Gallery.

If Hamptons art fairs often get a bad rap, Market Art + Design (formerly known as Art Market Hamptons) is doing everything in its power to rid the East End of its stereotype of hosting mediocre Pop art and overpriced beach house decor by showcasing hip, emerging galleries and an eclectic variety of fine art and design in a chill, food truck-filled farm by the bay.

With a roster including New York staples like the Hole and Freight & Volume as well as newcomers like Castor Gallery and Victori + Mo, the fair gives the high-end clientele that populate the Hamptons the chance to connect with grittier galleries and artists they might not otherwise see, and vice versa.

“Last year we did a show at [East Hampton gallery] Eric Firestone,” the Hole’s Kathy Grayson said of her decidedly downtown gallery’s first foray into the Hamptons art scene. “And it was this wonderful group of sales in the middle of what’s usually a totally dead time for us…so we thought we’d try out a fair.”

Brendan Fagan at Castor Gallery.

Brendan Fagan at Castor Gallery.
Photo: Courtesy of Castor Gallery.

And why this fair when there are two others—last weekend’s ArtHamptons and the simultaneous Art Southampton—to choose from? “We’re friends with them,” Grayson said plainly, referring to Art Market Productions directors Jeffrey Wainhause and Max Fishko, who generated significant Armory Week buzz with Art on Paper, which will be making its Miami debut in 2015, and who also run Seattle Art Fair, Texas Contemporary, Miami Project, and Art Market San Francisco.

The consensus among gallerists seems to be that Art Market Productions is simply less of a “corporation” than its competitors, and for fledgling galleries just beginning to dip their toes into the Hamptons scene or the art fair market altogether, that’s key.

“We thought this would be an easy start to art fairs,” said Zen Alnuwieri of the recently-opened Lower East Side space Castor Gallery. “It’s our first fair…so we thought that we would do something a little more local, to kind of test the waters and see how our artists do.”

“We’re very much a family,” agreed Art Market director of communications Kelly Freeman, who had only recently changed into a dress after helping to install lighting fixtures in several booths. “We all take care of each other…we just like to feel available [to galleries], and I think it really shows in the production value. We like to make spaces where you can just relax and engage with the art and have a great conversation.”

John Mellencamp, Love (2005) at ACA Galleries.

John Mellencamp, Love (2005) at ACA Galleries.
Photo: Courtesy of artnet News.

It’s a refreshing fair in many ways—from the fresh-faced gallerists to the sweeping views of the Mecox Bay to the plush sofas and quaint picnic tables that openly encourage people to just hang out.

Despite the inspired idea to mix design into the fair—one of the many changes including date and location that the organizers decided to experiment with this year—many of those booths feel noticeably more staid than their fine art-dealing neighbors. It’s also not without a few sprinklings of summer art fair stuff, but even those pieces feel toned down and palatable in comparison with its competitors down the road.

At Lyons Wier Gallery, Stephanie Hirsch‘s beaded surfboards are likely to be gobbled up by collectors looking for something eye-catching for their vacation homes. We spoke to one jewelry-making patron who was in awe of how long its completion must have taken. “It takes me forever to make one necklace!” she exclaimed.

The more intellectual set will enjoy San Francisco’s Electric Works, where prints of cheeky drawings by Dave Eggers line the booth from floor to ceiling. A wall of limited editions are going for around $2,400, while others can be taken home for just $300. “I think of the Hamptons as being a very literary-minded group of people, so I thought it would be a really good match,” said director Noah Lang. “I like doing other fairs that are not part of that major market kind of thing.”

Dave Eggers drawings at Electric Works

Dave Eggers drawings at Electric Works.
Photo: Courtesy of artnet News.

Down the way, John Mellencamp (yes, that John Mellencamp) has a selection of surprisingly sardonic paintings at ACA Galleries. “Young without lovers, old without friends,” reads one. Not exactly what we’d expect from the man who penned ’80s hits like “Jack & Diane” and “Hurts So Good,” but we’ll take it.

During a time when art fairs dominate the market and landscape so significantly, it’s important to have fairs like this—where the line between art and design is blurred, where a new gallery can feel comfortable having its first of what’s likely to be many art fair experiences, and where the denizens of both downtown and the East End can co-mingle over a grilled cheese courtesy of Brooklyn’s Morris Sandwich Shop.

“There’s this incredible audience out East, and they’re focused on creating a community for themselves,” Freeman says. “They want to support artists and build the area into a real arts haven, and we really want to support that.”

Market Art + Design is at Fairview Farm in Mecox, Bridgehampton from July 9–12. 





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