Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dallas Art Fair Feb 6-8

If you live in the DFW area, I hope that you will make time to check out the Dallas Art Fair this weekend. Chris Byrne, the fair's organizer, described it to me as "galleries are by invitation only and it is an encyclopedic approach" to an art fair. There are only 45 galleries showing so it shouldn't take more than a couple of hours to cover. While you are down in the area, make a day of it by heading over to the Contemporary Art Dealers of Dallas new space (CADD ArtLab) on Main St between the Joule and Neiman Marcus. There is a wonderful drawing exhibition curated from several of the 14 CADD member galleries. This space practically serves as a year-round mini art fair, all work is available for purchase and worth checking out often to get a taste of the overall gallery scene in Dallas. Pick up a CADD Guide while you are there and check out the Dallas galleries, all will be open on Friday and Saturday during the fair. Finish off the day or weekend by attending the Olafur Eliason exhibition at the DMA, not to be missed.

And for those new to collecting art, the Dallas Art Fair is an excellent opportunity to see a range of work all under one roof. I've put together a few tips on navigating an art fair for those new to the experience.

BEFORE the artfair:
  • go to the artfair website and become familiar with the galleries that will be exhibiting, check out their websites to see what kind of work they show. If you find an artist that is of serious interest, contact the gallery to see if they will be bringing that particular piece or others by the same artist. Let them know that you will be attending the fair.
  • wear comfortable shoes (no joke)
  • use the gallery's business cards to write down names of artists and works of art that are of interest. Introduce yourself to the gallery staff and ask for prices.
  • bring a digital camera or camera phone --taking pictures of work that is of interest will not only help you remember and but may also help you to communicate with the gallery should you be interested in a purchase after the fair. You can also ask the gallery if they have any promotional material available on the artist as well.
  • if you are using any sort of video device, it is good etiquette to ask the gallery for permission before recording. Some galleries allow, some don't.
  • if you are an artist, refrain from pitching your work to a gallery during a fair. The gallery's primary focus during an art fair is meeting with existing and new clientele and making sales. A brief introduction and leaving a card with the gallery is fine IF you think the gallery's program would be a good fit with your work.
  • Transactions occur before, during and after the art fair, so don't feel pressured to make a decision on the spot. Contact the gallery to see if the piece that is of interest to you is still available. You may miss a few in the beginning (it happens) but if you are just starting out be patient and take your time.
  • Gather your notes from the fair and go online to research more about the artists and their galleries. Galleries often do not post ALL of the work that is available by an artist, so it is a good idea to ask if more work is available other than what is shown on the website IF you are serious about a purchase.
Have a great weekend!