Monday, January 17, 2011

Art feature: Two art fairs bring aesthetics, learning to Palm Beach

Jeune Femme au Chapeau Noir‭ (‬1895‭), ‬by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.‭
(‬Courtesy Hammer Galleries,‭ ‬New York‭)

By Jenifer M.‭ ‬Vogt

Art fair season is upon us.‭ ‬And,‭ ‬for art lovers in Palm Beach,‭ ‬it’s the most wonderful time of the year because,‭ ‬beginning this week,‭ ‬the Palm Beach County Convention Center will be the home of two fairs that showcase galleries and works of fine art from around the world.

They’ll also provide an unparalleled opportunity to attend lectures by leading artists,‭ ‬experts and scholars.‭ ‬And they help boost Palm Beach’s status as a world-class cultural destination.

The fairs,‭ ‬Art Palm Beach and the‭ ‬American International Fine Art Fair‭ (‬AIFAF‭)‬,‭ ‬are annual events that celebrate their‭ ‬14th and‭ ‬15th years,‭ ‬respectively.‭ ‬Lee Ann Lester and her husband,‭ ‬David,‭ ‬run both fairs through International Fine Art Expositions‭ (‬IFAE‭)‬.‭ ‬She attributes their success to the supportive local art community.

‭“‬There is a multi-generational tradition here in Palm Beach of supporting cultural institutions,‭” ‬she said.‭ “‬We have a wonderful audience that appreciates that the inspiration for the fairs comes from the surrounding art community and institutions,‭ ‬such as the Armory Center,‭ ‬the Norton Museum and The Society of the Four Arts.‭”

It might seem challenging to run art fairs in such close proximity to the world’s second-largest art fair,‭ ‬Art Basel Miami Beach.‭ ‬But these fairs have an aura that is distinctly different from Basel,‭ ‬yet provide the same access to leading global galleries and scholars,‭ ‬albeit on a smaller scale.‭

Pool Toy‭ (‬2010‭) ‬by Philip Maberry.‭
(‬Courtesy Dean Project,‭ ‬NYC‭)

While Basel is a behemoth in relation to the size of the fair itself,‭ ‬as well as the ever-increasing satellite fair offerings,‭ ‬the Palm Beach fairs provide an opportunity to view fine art without a crazed impetus to see all,‭ ‬acquire all,‭ ‬and impress all.‭

True,‭ ‬the entire art world won’t be in attendance,‭ ‬but there also won’t be preening supermodels,‭ ‬wannabe art aficionados,‭ ‬rock stars,‭ ‬exceedingly long lines and,‭ ‬in true emperor’s-new-clothes-fashion,‭ ‬a lot of art that requires extraterrestrial insight to interpret.‭

For some,‭ ‬the entire Basel scene has an art-as-commodity vibe driven by collectors that look to acquire work by the next great artist that they can quickly sell for a generous profit.‭ ‬That makes the atmosphere uber-competitive,‭ ‬and Basel a star-churning factory.

Holden Luntz,‭ ‬who owns one of the world’s most prominent galleries for fine art photography,‭ ‬agreed that there is a marked difference between the average Palm Beach collector and the average Basel collector.‭

“Tastes are a little more conservative.‭ ‬Palm Beach collectors are not necessarily looking to be the first on the block,‭” ‬Luntz said.‭ “‬They’re looking for quality‭ – ‬work that they can live with‭ – ‬not so much what will put them ahead of the curve.‭”

And,‭ ‬while people may not necessarily correlate‭ ‬Palm Beach with contemporary art,‭ ‬the first fair,‭ ‬which begins this Friday,‭ ‬Art Palm Beach,‭ ‬is‭ ‬changing that perception.‭ ‬The focus is primarily on the visual arts,‭ ‬with a few exhibitors of fine jewelry.‭ ‬Lester explains that the fair supports the emergent trend for multimedia and site-specific works.‭

“The show will be very interesting for creative works in new mediums‭ – ‬digital,‭ ‬technological‭ – ‬new art forms that are fascinating.‭ ‬Keep your eyes and your mind open.‭ ‬You’ll see in person what is now on the Web.‭”

Baroque gold sconce‭ (‬1999‭) ‬by Dale Chihuly.‭
(‬Courtesy Encore Glass‭ & ‬Fine Art,‭ ‬Oakbrook,‭ ‬Ill.‭)

The work at Art Palm Beach will range from elegant works by established artists,‭ ‬such as Dale Chihuly,‭ ‬to more quirky,‭ ‬imaginative works that require the‭ “‬open mind‭” ‬to which Lester refers.‭ ‬She also said there will be large variety in price ranges and collector profiles.

‭“‬Many of the works are affordable,‭ ‬with prices ranging from‭ ‬$1,000‭ ‬to‭ ‬$100,000,‭” ‬she said.‭ “‬We’ve seen a growth in the age and sophistication of our collector base.‭ ‬We see both younger collectors,‭ ‬as well as seasoned collectors buying new forms of art.‭”

For those that go merely to view art and learn,‭ ‬both fairs offer programs featuring leading curators,‭ ‬artists,‭ ‬and educators.‭

‬Highlights of Art Palm Beach include‭ ‬“The New Miami Art Museum at Museum Park,‭”‬ with new museum director‭ ‬Thom Collins,‭ ‬and‭ “‬Art Now:‭ ‬The Convergence of Photography,‭ ‬Video and Contemporary Art‭” ‬led by Kara Walker-Tome,‭ ‬curator and moderator,‭ ‬and‭ ‬Elayne Mordes,‭ ‬collector and founder of Whitespace.‭ [‬You can view the full program schedule here:‭ ‬‭]

Different in scope,‭ ‬the‭ ‬AIFAF‭ ‬also‭ ‬features international dealers,‭ ‬but here‭ ‬representing fine art‭ ‬ranging‭ ‬from classical antiquity to contemporary,‭ ‬and a fine collection of haute and period jewelry.‭ ‬You won’t find quite as much of the quirky,‭ ‬if any,‭ ‬and this‭ ‬fair is fully vetted by leading museum curators and experts.‭

A key component of the fair will be a Renoir exhibit following on the heels of‭ ‬Renoir in the‭ ‬20th Century,‭ ‬which recently graced the galleries of the Grand Palais in Paris,‭ ‬the Los Angeles County Museum of Art,‭ ‬and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.‭ ‬This single-artist exhibition recently premiered as the inaugural event for the‭ ‬Hammer Galleries‭ ‬opening‭ ‬at their new location at‭ ‬475‭ ‬Park Ave.,‭ ‬New York,‭ ‬and will continue on for a three-month run at‭ ‬The European Fine Art Foundation‭ (‬TEFAF‭) ‬show in Maastricht,‭ ‬Netherlands.‭

Empire Chair in the Gloaming‭ (‬executed in‭ ‬1994,‭ ‬printed‭ ‬2010‭)
‬by John Dugdale.‭
(‬Courtesy Holden Luntz Gallery,‭ ‬Palm Beach‭)

Luntz,‭ ‬who will exhibit at both fairs,‭ ‬views them as an extension of his nearby Palm Beach gallery space.‭ ‬For AIFAF,‭ ‬he will showcase new work by John Dugdale,‭ ‬a sight-‭ ‬impaired photographer who creates images that seem lit from within,‭ ‬and hard to conceive of as being done by a man with only‭ ‬10‭ ‬percent of his vision.‭

‬Luntz began collecting Dugdale’s‭ “‬beautifully exquisite pictures‭” ‬before he knew about his eyes.‭ ‬As the relationship developed,‭ ‬Luntz asked Dugdale how it was possible for him to create these images.‭ ‬Dugdale told him:‭ “‬You don’t just see with your eyes.‭ ‬You see with your heart,‭ ‬soul,‭ ‬mind and spirit.‭”

‬Dugdale will be present to sign copies of his book,‭ ‬Life‭’‬s Evening Hour,‭ ‬as part of AIFAF’s program,‭ ‬providing a rare opportunity to speak to an artist whose work is collected by,‭ ‬among others,‭ ‬detail-obsessed,‭ ‬elegant-living guru Martha Stewart.

Alongside painting and photography,‭ ‬fine jewelers,‭ ‬such as Milan’s Scavia and London’s Graff,‭ ‬will exhibit sparkling gems,‭ ‬and antiquities dealers will showcase furniture and ceramics with historic provenance.‭ ‬The entire fair serves as a fantasy foray into the arena of finer living,‭ ‬Palm Beach-style.

Isabeau ring‭ (‬2010‭) ‬by Fulvio Maria Scavia‭.
(‬Courtesy Scavia,‭ ‬Milan‭)

Perhaps the most significant aspect of these fairs is that they foster relationships between art lovers,‭ ‬collectors and local art institutions.‭ ‬The Lesters,‭ ‬for example,‭ ‬are committed to the local scene,‭ ‬which is evidenced by the number of local galleries exhibiting in both fairs and their collaboration with local art institutions.

The Lester will collaborate with the Norton Museum of Art on Feb.‭ ‬12‭ ‬to mark the museum’s‭ ‬70th anniversary and provide complimentary admission and shuttle bus service for both venues.‭ ‬The event is being promoted as a‭ “‬day of cultural events Palm Beach will never forget.‭” [‬The full program for AIFAF can be viewed here:‭ ‬‭]

Both fairs promise to help create another memorable and stimulating season for art,‭ ‬and in our very own backyard.‭

Jenifer‭ ‬Mangione Vogt is a marketing communications professional and resident of Boca Raton.‭ ‬She’s been enamored with painting for‭ ‬most of her life.‭ ‬She studied art history and‭ ‬received her B.A.‭ ‬from Purchase College.

Art Palm Beach takes place Jan.‭ ‬21-23‭ ‬at the‭ ‬Palm Beach County Convention Center.‭ ‬Hours are Friday through Saturday,‭ ‬noon to‭ ‬7‭ ‬p.m.‭; ‬Sunday,‭ ‬noon till‭ ‬6‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Admission is‭ ‬$10‭ ‬in advance,‭ ‬or‭ ‬$15‭ ‬at the door,‭ ‬for a one-day pass‭; ‬$15‭ ‬in advance,‭ ‬or‭ ‬$20‭ ‬at the door,‭ ‬for a multi-day pass.‭ ‬Children under‭ ‬12‭ ‬accompanied by‭ ‬an adult are free.‭ ‬For more information,‭ ‬visit‭

American International Fine Art Fair‭ (‬AIFAF‭) ‬takes place Feb.‭ ‬5-13‭ ‬at the Palm Beach County Convention Center.‭ ‬Hours are Friday through Saturday,‭ ‬noon to‭ ‬7‭ ‬p.m.‭; ‬Sunday,‭ ‬noon to‭ ‬6‭ ‬p.m.‭ ‬Admission is‭ ‬$10‭ ‬in advance,‭ ‬or‭ ‬$15‭ ‬at the door,‭ ‬for a one-day pass‭; ‬$35‭ ‬for a one-day pass with catalog‭; ‬$15‭ ‬in advance,‭ ‬or‭ ‬$20‭ ‬at the door,‭ ‬for a multi-day pass‭; ‬$45‭ ‬for a multi-day pass with catalog.‭ ‬Student admission is‭ ‬$10.‭ ‬For more information,‭ ‬visit

Palace-size pair of Sèvres urns with covers.‭
(‬Courtesy of Toulouse Antique Gallery,‭ ‬Manhattan Beach,‭ ‬Calif.‭)

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