Sunday, July 16, 2017

Seattle Art Fair at CenturyLink Center: Aug 3 - 6 | Out of Sight at Schoenfelds Building: Aug 4 - 27

In advance of the Seattle Art Fair's inaugural success, there was abundant speculation as to the nature of the exhibit local philanthropist Paul Allen and the organization he had assembled with Max Fishko of Art Market Productions, would be bringing to the city. At the time there was little that offered insight beyond the press release, which made it out to be half-commercial gallery, half-curated exhibition, featuring some 60 galleries representing local to international dealers and an emphasis on the West Coast and Pacific Rim. The majority of the dialog focused on the fair's relation to the art market, with Brian Boucher's "Why Are Gagosian, Pace, and Zwirner Signing On for the Seattle Art Fair?" and The Observer's "Paul Kasmin and Pace Gallery Join the Inaugural Seattle Art Fair" leading the discussion. With later pieces like Seattle Times "High Art Meets Deep Pockets at Seattle Art Fair", as well as the New York Times recap, "Seattle Art Fair Receives a Boost From Tech’s Big Spenders", and Art News "Why the Seattle Art Fair Is Important for the Art World", positioning the event in relationship to the moneyed local tech industry.

All of which were little more than discussions of the art market and the inclusion of some of the gallery world's international power players. For insight into the curatorial direction and work to be featured, one had to rely on regional media in which there was no small supply of skepticism expressed concerning the fair being another of Paul Allen's pet cultural projects, both for the good and the bad. The extent of the fair's scope became apparent opening weekend with favorable coverage in both the New York Times and Artforum. The exhibitions and galleries drawn from Asia were among the three day event's greater successes. In addition to the participating galleries Kaikai Kiki and Koki Arts from Tokyo, along with Gana Art of Seoul and Osage Gallery from Hong Kong, the "Thinking Currents" wing curated by Leeza Ahmady, director of Asia Contemporary Art Week produced a premier exhibition of video, film and sound work exploring themes related to the cultural, political, and geographical parameters of the Pacific Rim. With Kaikia KiKi head, Takashi Murakami returning for the fair's second installment, programming his own satellite exhibition "Juxtapoz x SuperFlat", for Pivot Art + Culture. As covered by Trinie Dalton in, "Pacific Objects", for Artforum, "Seattle Art Fair and Out of Sight made a Return" with the fair's successful second year.

Returning the first weekend in August for it's third edition, this year will feature an expanded body of galleries, some 84 in total, along with it's program of talks, on-and-off site performances and collateral events around the city. These under the umbrella of the fair's Project series, presenting immersive and large-scale works spanning sculpture, performance, and installation. The Projects offering a platform for presentations beyond the art fair booth and into adjacent neighborhoods of the city, the latter the focus of Art News' "Seattle Art Fair Adds Daily Dialogues and Special Projects, Featuring Jenny Holzer and W.I.T.C.H.". Laura Fried returns as artistic director, along with the core dealer committee of local gallerists, James Harris and Greg Kucera, and the big players from Los Angeles, represented by William Hathaway of Night Gallery and New York's Lidia Andich of Gagosian Gallery, Robert Goff of David Zwirner  and Elizabeth Sullivan from Pace Gallery. Notably, in the way of influential presenters, "Roberts & Tilton are Among New Galleries" returning from their inclusion in last year's program.

Preeminent arts entity, Gagosian are back after an absence in 2016, and United Talent Agency, who represent work by rebel artists of the past 30 years, including Mike Kelley, Joe Bradley, Nate Lowman, Elizabeth Peyton, and Raymond Pettibon, will mark their first participation in an art fair. Also in it's third installment, Out of Sight returns in a new exhibition space at the historic Schoenfelds Building for its annual survey of contemporary art in the Pacific Northwest. With a new curatorial and production team under the direction of exhibition caretaker, Scott Lawrimore of Lawrimore Project. Current Director of the Jacob Lawrence Gallery, Lawrimore is joined by this year's curatorial team of Greg Lundgren, S. Surface, Justen Siyuan Waterhouse, Holly Palmer, and Benedict Heywood. Credited as "The Real Seattle Art Fair is Out of Sight" in local press, last year's exceptional program was a collaboration between Sharon Arnold of Bridge Productions along with Seattle artist Greg Lundgren and Sierra Stinson, founder of Vignettes for Vital 5 Productions. Offering a counterpoint to the global vision of the Seattle Art fair, this 22,000 square-foot survey of contemporary art read like a who's-who of the best work seen about the Pacific Northwest in the past decade.