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The Dallas Art Fair: A Focus On Craftsmanship
by Brad Ford Smith 12 Apr 2013

Guest blogger Brad Ford Smith, a Dallas artist and art conservator, takes a stroll through the Dallas Art Fair.

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Guest blogger Brad Ford Smith is a Dallas artist and art conservator

The Dallas Art Fair opens its doors to the public today through Sunday. Now in its fifth year, the Dallas Art Fair has become a reliable opportunity to peruse a wide spectrum of artwork, from just emerging artists to artists who are well-documented in the journals of art and history.

Of the 83 galleries, many have participated in all five years. They have tested the waters and know what the Dallas market likes. Almost half of the galleries this year are new to the Dallas Art Fair, so they have made selections based on research and feedback.

Overall, this year’s art fair showcases galleries that are relying on well-executed paintings, intriguing works on paper and sculptural objects that reflect an attention to craftsmanship. I am glad to report that during the short press preview, I did not see any paintings of cattle drives or bronzed cowboy boots, which I would like to think is a nod to the growing sophistication of the North Texas community. Also missing are works of art that are overtly violent or offensively political. That kind of thing simply does not sell here, nor I expect at any art fair.

Here are a few examples of the lush craftsmanship at the Dallas Art Fair. Highlighted in the PBS documentrey Craft In America, I was very happy to see the exquisite blown glass still lifes of Beth Lipman at the Claire Oliver Gallery.

Electronic artist Alan Rath at the Hosfelt Gallery has turned wire, circuit boards and feathers into a humorous, motion-activated burlesque show. You just can’t help but smile as this sculpture flirts and gyrates.

The Hedge Gallery, one of the only decorative arts galleries at the fair this year, is showing the extremely lush, lumpy, lave-glazed pottery by Danish artist Morten Lobner Espersen.

There are several side events at this years art fair. Of special note to local artists longing to hit the big time are the two lectures at the Dallas Contemporary: Navigating An Art Fair and Why Can’t We Get Along (Saturday at 12:30 and 2). These panel discussions will address the do’s and don’t of approaching a gallery during an art fair, and the fine art of maintaining an artist-gallery relationship.

Well, it’s time to leave the virtual art world and go see these wonderful works of art in living three dimensions. And as a last motivational sales pitch, there are food trucks in the neighborhood.

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