The Eighth Annual Dallas Art Fair

This was the eighth year for the Dallas Art Fair (DAF), and the show proved to be as strong as ever.  I say it each year, but this is a great opportunity for both collectors and art aficionados to see and purchase some of the best in modern and contemporary art from all over the world.  The fair’s reach and influence has continued to grow since it launched in 2009; a year of great economic decline and, some might’ve surmised, maybe not the best timing to introduce a large-scale art fair relying on collectors, exhibitors and sponsors to survive.  But, the timing couldn’t have been better.  The economic downturn stimulated a change in the art world; aesthetics shifted during the recession.  Traditional was out and Modern was in.  Take that shift in collector’s taste, add a bustling city with a lot to offer, throw in a dash of southern hospitality, shake well, and boom – The Dallas Art Fair is a powerhouse event.

With just under 100 dealers from over 40 cities, the fair had 18 countries representing their gallery and artists at the Fashion Industry Gallery in Dallas’ downtown Arts District this past weekend.  Carbon 12 and Lawrie Shabibi gallery exhibited for their first time at the fair, coming all the way from Dubai!

 Two Andy Warhol serigraphs on display at the Heritage Auctions booth

Two Andy Warhol serigraphs on display at the Heritage Auctions booth

This year the fair announced the Dallas Art Fair Acquisition Program.  In association with the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA), the program will gift the DMA $50,000 each year to purchase work by artists who have exhibited at the fair.  This is such a cool program.  Senior curator at the DMA, Gavin Delahunty, made his selections and DMA is adding nine works by four artists to its collection: pieces by Michelle Grabner from Milwaukee's Green Gallery; Nadia Kaabi-Linke from Lawrie Shabibi gallery in Dubai; Merlin James from Dublin's Kerlin Gallery; and Lina Puerta from Geary Contemporary in New York.

 "Wine Corks No. 2" by Dallas Gallery Ro2 artist James Zamora, 36 x 48" oil on canvas

"Wine Corks No. 2" by Dallas Gallery Ro2 artist James Zamora, 36 x 48" oil on canvas

 "Still Life with Medieval Tapestry" by Eric West of Gallery Henoch, Oil on panel, 36 x 36"

"Still Life with Medieval Tapestry" by Eric West of Gallery Henoch, Oil on panel, 36 x 36"

I look forward to hitting my favorite galleries every year, one of them being Gallery Henoch.  The New York based gallery represents some wonderful realist artists currently working; Eric Zener, Steve Smulka, Janet Rickus, Eric Wert, Steve Mills and Robert C. Jackson among them.

David Richard Gallery of Santa Fe, NM always has stuff up my alley, representing post-war abstract art.  This year they introduced me to the engaging ceramic works by Eric Gellert.

Gellert currently works in Santa Fe and his ceramic pieces are comprised of thousands of hand rolled coils of porcelain clay layered and built atop one another.  They are very engaging and really have to be experienced in person.  In the round, they have ongoing patterns and heavily textured surfaces that form deep grooves, swells, and bulges.

 Three Ceramic and Mason Stain pieces from Gellert's "Square" series, 22 x 22 x 4.5" each

Three Ceramic and Mason Stain pieces from Gellert's "Square" series, 22 x 22 x 4.5" each

In last year’s blog on the fair, I mentioned my first encounter with the work of Emil Lukas.  He does wonderful thread paintings.  This year, Hosfelt Gallery’s booth was filled solely with Lukas’ work.  The California gallery had work from two other series Lukas has been working on. 

Per the artist’s statement on this series: These chunky cast-plaster works are composed of a honeycomb of multitudes of cells, individually stained through an accrual of water-soluble pigments that get blotted out, are allowed to soak in, or evaporate to leave their crusty evidence.  Seen head-on, the multi-colored pixels create shimmering fields - a kind of nonobjective pointillism. Viewed from the edge, they have the sculptural quality of soft stone, pitted and polished by water.

They certainly do a number on your eyes as you chase colors and patterns across the wood panel; pulling you in to see the detail and the specific colors of each cell, then pushing you away to see the overall piece and how each cell and color interacts within the piece.

 DC Moore Gallery of New York had this 42 x 60" oil on linen by Janet Fish on display

DC Moore Gallery of New York had this 42 x 60" oil on linen by Janet Fish on display

In 2013, Mayor Mike Rawlings instituted the Dallas Arts Week to fall on the same week every year to coincide with the DAF; giving residents and visitors too much to do and see during the citywide celebration of the arts.

With new dealers every year, the DAF’s international impact and reputation is evident – no easy task considering there are over 150 art fairs each year.  In 2009 there were fewer than 4,000 visitors to the fair, this year there were over 10,000.  It is a great show right in our own backyard; we at Signet Art look forward to and highly recommend it. 

-M.P. Callender