Austin Gets Its Own New Grown-Up Art Fair: How It Measures Up and What Makes It So Unique
Mathew Zefeldt's "Xerox #2 (Head from a Herm)," 2015, at Circuit12 Contemporary (Courtesy the artist and gallery)
Rebecca Rothfus Harrell's "Yellow Sky," 2015, at CamibaArt (Courtesy the artist and gallery)
At the Roadhouse Relics booth, Austin neon creator Todd Sanders' "Good Luck," 2014. Sanders owns the gallery, too, and it's where he plies his trade, promoting the almost lost American vernacular art of neon. (Courtesy the artist and gallery)
Will Penny's "Gamut Relief VXI RYB Tint," 2014, stocked in the booth of Dallas dealer of the avant-garde Circuit12 Contemporary (Courtesy the artist and gallery)
Beefhaus' "Devil Particle" (detail), 2015, among the edgy fair at Art City Austin Art Fair (Courtesy the artists and artspace)
Jackie Venson, also a SXSW 2016 headliner, performs at Art City. (Courtesy the artist)
Rapper Zeale is also in the Art City mix. (Courtesy the artist)
Lyrical Austin-based rocker Emily Wolfe is among the performers to watch at Art City. (Courtesy the artist)
Austin-founded psycedellic-inspired Calliope Musicals figure in the musical lineup. (Photo Kate Blaising)
Anthony B. Creeden's "The Avern," 2015, at Co-Lab Projects (Courtesy the artist and artspace)
Brooklyn-based democratic painter Steve Keene's paintings are affordably priced and also collectible, showcased at Yard Dog's booth. (Courtesy the artist and gallery)
Kasumi Chow and Desiree Espada introduce a new photographic suite at The Public Trust. Shown: "Cake," 2015. (Courtesy the artists and gallery)
Internationally exhibited McKay Otto's recent work is a must-see at CamibaArt's booth at the fair. Here, detail of "Ever Of This Then Ever," circa 2016. (Courtesy the artist and gallery)
After this weekend, Houston and Dallas aren’t the only Texas cities with art fairs.
Art City Austin is on now (through Sunday, May 1) at Palmer Events Center (a 10-minute drive from downtown), a fresh iteration on an event launched in 1950. Originally branded Fiesta, and known for its hefty music component decades before SXSW, it was formerly downtown and al fresco; the art offerings were once an afterthought to the musical headliners and limited to a loose amalgamation of booths that verged on the decorative.
Organized now by the nonprofit Art Alliance Austin, the two dozen or so exhibitors — prestigious Texas galleries to underground artists-owned spaces — make this fair a new player to watch. The size is manageable, as is the price point. Included are respected dealers like Dallas’ The Public Trust, who don’t always participate in the art-fair circuit because many talents in their stable are under $5,000. (Best bets in The Public Trust’s booth include Dallas-based photographic pop-feminist collaborators Kasumi Chow and Desiree Espada; ask to see their new suite of prints, an extreme bargain, for less than $1,000.)
Other must-sees include Art Palace (formerly of Austin, now in Houston); owner Arturo Palacios mounts some of the most impeccably curated shows anywhere in Texas. Then make a beeline to Devin Borden Gallery of Houston, where former MFAH Core Fellow Jillian Conrad and Laura Lark are stars of a stable that tilts to Texas. Another Houston gallerist, Yvonamor Palix, presents the cosmic abstractions of Mars Woodhill, a promising Hill Country-based painter whose canvases resemble pages from a volume on the galaxies (shown as lead image of the home page, Woodhill’s Vibrant Formation, 2015; her moniker is nicely matched to the work).
Also check out the edgy collective Beefhaus, arriving from Dallas, and Austin staples like Yard Dog (where Yale-educated, Brooklyn-based populist painter Steve Keene is a true phenomenon), Big Medium, Roadhouse Relics (home to the vintage-inspired neon signage of Todd Sanders) and Co-Lab Projects, typifying the lively high-low mix that is the Austin scene. Finally, put Austin newcomer CamibaArt on your list. (Founded by architect Troy Campa, the galley showcases vaporous portal paintings by widely collected McKay Otto and the witty craft objects and jewelry of Edward Lane McCartney.)
Art City Austin, at Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Sprints Rd; Sunday, May 1, 11 am to 6 pm; artallianceaustin.org/artcity.