Saratoga Springs, a Long-Time Summer Destination for Thoroughbred Horse Racing, Is Now Home to Its Own Art Fair

Jacqueline Grande, the founder and president of the REVEAL Art Fair, tells us what visitors can expect from the event's second edition.

Jacqueline Dunbar Grande, the Founder and President REVEAL Art Fair, has been a Saratoga Spring resident for over 20 years.

If Saratoga Springs brings one thing to mind, it is almost positively horse racing. The leafy city, located in the Adirondack region of central New York, is home to the famed and historic Saratoga racetrack, which draws crowds (and an array of festive bonnets) every summer with its six-week thoroughbred racing season.

But Saratoga Springs is no stranger to the arts: it is also home to the artist residency Yaddo, several museums, and, for the second year in a row, its own art fair, REVEAL.

The fair’s founder, longtime Saratoga resident and former finance guru Jacqueline Grande, says the fair taps into an existing desire for culture in the city. Ahead of the second edition, we caught up with Grande to see why she thought Saratoga Springs needed an art fair and what’s in store for year two.

REVEAL Contemporary International Art Fair will coincide with the beginning of the racing season.

REVEAL Contemporary International Art Fair will coincide with the beginning of the racing season.

You spent your career working in the financial industry. How did you wind up founding an art fair? 

I have loved art ever since I can remember and have been surrounded by it my whole life. When I was a kid, my relatives would travel to Asia, Africa, Europe, and would send artworks and objects, be it a carved figurine from Scandinavia or a porcelain doll from Japan. This was 40 or so years ago, before you had an Amazon box delivered to the house every other day. It connected me with the rest of the world.

I started collecting when I began traveling for work. I graduated from law school and went into the financial industry. On my business trips, when everything was said and done, I wasn’t sitting in my hotel room. No matter which city I was in, I was out and about at museums and galleries and I started to buy. Long story short, a while back, an artist contacted me about representing him, because he said I understood the finances of art and how art is sold and purchased. That sparked something. UBS came out with a statistic that said some 48% of art is sold through art fairs—an astounding number. It all evolved—my background in business, my passion for art, and the city of Saratoga Springs—into my decision to host this fair.

So much discussion revolves around art fair fatigue and the overabundance of fairs. How did you decide that Saratoga Springs might be the right place for its own?  

I’ve lived in Saratoga Springs for more than twenty years. Over the summers, a kind of confluence of activity occurs that attracts a diverse crowd of people. Horse racing fans, along with the horses’ owners and trainers, come for the summer racing season. The area has long been known for the healing properties of its mineral waters and baths. Meanwhile, we’re a hub for performing arts: the New York City Ballet comes here during the summer, along with a jazz festival and the Philadelphia Orchestra. We have the National Museum of Racing and the National Museum of Dance. In August, we have a two-day horse sale. Last year it sold 150 horses for $68 million. The summer seemed like the perfect time to host an event like this and capitalize on all this activity.

Courtesy of REVEAL Contemporary International Art Fair.

Courtesy of REVEAL Contemporary International Art Fair.

Is there a certain ambiance you’re hoping to create? Who is your audience?  

I want people to feel like art is accessible. Our hashtag is #artunites. I don’t want anyone to exclude themselves, thinking art is for people with this or that many zeros in the bank. I started buying art before I could afford it, to be honest. There were certain works of art I wanted to experience and live with everyday. And, to veer off, that’s why I gave REVEAL its name. It’s a profound word. What does an artist reveal about him or herself? What does an artwork reveal about the person who owns it, who want to live with it everyday? You know, I could have called it Art Saratoga Springs instead, but that’s not the message we’re after. 

What’s new for year two? 

We’re growing and expanding off the success of last year and are  welcoming many more culture partners this year, including Yaddo, the Tang Museum, and the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. That kind of institutional support is tremendous. 

This year we really want to build out the personality and profile of this art fair. We’re doing more events, including a Young Collectors Night with a local arts organization called Radial Arts. We’ll also be hosting a Platinum VIP hour, before the VIP opening. We’ll also be hosting a series of talks, as we did last year. Right now we’re focused on adding new layers and dimensions to the fair experience. 

Beyond this, we’re going to have an interactive installation that we’re very excited about.

Courtesy of REVEAL Contemporary International Art Fair.

Courtesy of REVEAL Contemporary International Art Fair.

And as for the artwork that will be on view? 

There will be a range of media—photography, painting, sculpture, ceramics, collage, and so on—from both the secondary and primary market. Last year, works by Basquiat sold right alongside emerging artists. What’s important is that galleries understand that we are trying to build something and that they see how they can grow with us. They see that this city is a primary destination for the arts. We’re an intersection point between Montreal, Boston, and New York City. Alongside Yaddo and the Tang Museum at Skidmore College, this fair steps into the environment to participate in a new way. The community of the fair already exists here. The question is more, why hasn’t this been done before?

REVEAL International Contemporary Art Fair will be held in Saratoga Springs from July 18–21. The VIP reception takes place July 18 from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.

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