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The Houston Fine Art Fair Sprawl
by Brad Ford Smith 20 Sep 2011

Brad Ford Smith visited the Houston Fine Art Fair this past weekend, and brought back some favorite images — also, the idea that art fairs like this have changed the way art is sold in America.


Guest blogger Brad Ford Smith is a Dallas artist and arts conservationist.

View of the Houston Fine Art Fair, impressive from the air, engaging on the ground. Sometimes sprawl can be a good thing.

Battling traffic on I-45 for four hours to get to the art fair is not the ideal way to prepare oneself to see a ton of artwork for the very first time.  So it was with a touch of white line fever that I wondered into the HFAF. The first five or six gallery booths were pretty much a mental blur, but then I found myself standing in front of the first  discovery of the day.

Forrest Moses at  Lew Allen Galleries. He translates the New Mexico landscape into a sophisticated  network of lines, textures and colors. His paintings and mono prints were just what the doctor ordered.

With a name like the Houston Fine Art Fair, it’s no surprise that a large portion of the galleries were fine art dealers.That translates into lots of paintings from the 1950s and ’60s; Robert Motherwells, Hans Hoffmans and Milton Averys, academic wise men who forever changed the course of art in America. This lead to my first re-discovery of the day, the large paint-splattered canvases of  Norman Bluhm at the Vincent Vallarino Fine Art.

The art fair also had a heavy Latin American presence, with galleries like Sammer Gallery displaying wonderful MADI constructed paintings and works on paper. Love this shaped canvas painting by Carmelo Arden Quin

The Douglas Dawson Gallery filled its booth with large and small historic objects like this fuzzy tarantula bowl form Tonosi, Panama,  AD 300-500.

Now this is how I want the walls of my house to look. A visual smorgasbord.

So, I would have to have a few prints from the new series by  Bill Jensen at the ULAE booth.

A squiggly work on paper by Maysey Craddock represented by the David Lusk Gallery.

And for drama, the Peter Fetterman Gallery has Sebastiao Salgado. Each photo tells an unbelievable but true story.

Okay, obviously I could ramble on. So let me tie this up by saying there are now hundreds of art fairs occurring across the US. This has changed the way most galleries  find and sell to collectors, which in return has changed the format of art fairs. Yes, HFAF was all about sellable artwork, but for the price of admission it was also a great art exhibit, worth seeing twice.

More Texas art fairs coming your way. Mark your calenders, Oct 20-23 Texas Contemporary Art Fair and April 13-15 the Dallas Art Fair.