Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

Gallery Beat June 2014

Copyright Dakota Fine, courtesy of (e)merge art fair
Copyright Dakota Fine, courtesy of (e)merge art fair

For the last three years, I’ve been writing at least once a year about the (e)merge art fair, which as some of you know, is the DMV’s only major, international visual arts fair.  As you also may recall, I’ve written ad nauseum about the importance of art fairs in the 21st century visual arts world.

Three years ago the big news in the capital region’s art scene was the inaugural (e)merge art fair, which now brings to the DC region an annual international art fair – others had tried in the past and failed, but (e)merge, with the powerful backing of well-known art collector Mera Rubell, succeeded modestly in its first year, gathered some impulse in the last two years and now, as it readies for year four, it seems assured to become the annual regional art showcase for the international art scene.

Copyright Tony Hitchcock, courtesy of (e)merge art fair
Copyright Tony Hitchcock, courtesy of (e)merge art fair

For (e)merge it is also all in the name, as the fair focuses on a dual presentation scheme featuring galleries (from all over the US as well as overseas) which bring and showcase three emerging artists each, as well as a platform of dozens of unrepresented artists.  The fair runs October 2-5, at the Morris Lapidus-designed Capitol Skyline hotel in Washington, DC, which is owned by the Rubell family, and adjacent to the site of their future museum.

The Rubell’s spectacular positive impact on the DMV has spread in many directions, including the recent Washington Project for the Art’s Baltimore studio visits, but I think that (e)merge remains their golden nugget.

In the last three years, many have noted that (e)merge has somewhat carved out a niche for itself in the area of performance art. While there is some merit in this assessment (who can forget Andrew Wodzianski’s exhausting performance while re-enacting the shipwreck scene from Moby Dick and floating in the hotel pool atop a coffin for two days; or typing in an old school typewriter Stephen King’s protagonist/antagonist obsessive line from The Shining? Or Wilmer Wilson’s breakout and equally exhausting “sticker” performance three years ago?), visual art is still essentially a commodity and collectors go to fairs (at least the galleries hope) to buy art.

Nonetheless, last year Holly Bass’ “Revival” performance also hit a strident high point and brought “together folks from all walks of life in a shared celebration of community and rejuvenation.” Borrowing elements of early church traditions, Revival included live music, collective singing and spoken word as well as personal “art testimonies” by guest artists and community members.

Copyright Tony Hitchcock, courtesy of (e)merge art fair
Copyright Tony Hitchcock, courtesy of (e)merge art fair

The 2014 edition of (e)merge offers an event and performance schedule that will energize public spaces and engage visitors in an immersive art experience. The program will include many live performance pieces as well as panels and discussions. The panel discussions aim to inform audiences and facilitate conversation amongst select art world insiders including collectors, curators, and organizational directors.

The 2014 edition will feature an international presenting works by over 100 artists from various countries. Exhibitors will show new works in painting, sculpture, video, performance, installation, and other media. For four days, the public is welcome to view a carefully curated selection of emerging art at the Capitol Skyline Hotel, exhibited on three levels inside the hotel and throughout the hotel’s grounds and public spaces. Exhibitors are carefully selected by a vetting committee that includes Ai Weiwei, easily one of the most famous and notable contemporary artists on the planet,  Mika Yoshitake, assistant curator, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC, and Jeffreen M. Hayes, director, Rebuild Foundation, Chicago, St. Louis & Omaha.

If you are a serious artist or a gallery owner stuck in the 20th century, then I suggest that you stop making excuses and go to (e)merge.

See ya there!

Written by: F. Lennox Campello

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