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Arts / Galleries

A Revitalized Houston Art Fair Returns With a Cool New Venue, Powerful Women and International Connections

BY // 09.16.16

Not only has Houston Fine Art Fair been rebranded as Houston Art Fair, but there’s also a welcome venue change. Gone are the days of hiking to NRG Center; the new address is Silver Street Studios Event Space in the Washington Avenue Arts District — the same environs as FotoFest, beneficiary of Houston Art Fair’s Opening Night for the second year in a row. The new venue, close to silos and railroad tracks, wins points for its industrial-agrarian cred.

Urban Expositions, producers of the design-focused art fair SOFA Chicago, acquired Houston Fine Art Fair last fall. The big announcement came on HFAF opening night, courtesy of founder Rick Friedman, and speculation abounded about what the fair would look like in 2016. Urban Expo’s imprimatur, now part of the UK-based Clarion Events empire, added luster.

FOTOFEST + FOOD TRUCKS

FotoFest also returns to the curatorial act, adding an avant-garde component. Executive director Steven Evans reveals, “It’s an important occasion for FotoFest, and we’re pushing ourselves this year by focusing on a presentation of video curated especially for Houston Art Fair.” The Fair has been mum about many of the details, but its website notes that Andrew Martin  — British purveyor of fabrics, wallpapers, furniture, and home accessories — will sponsor the VIP Lounge, evidence of the benefit of the London-based Clarion connection.

Food trucks may also figure into the equation, but the Silver Street locale is close to both the Heights and Washington Avenue, so an abundance of foodie destinations (something NRG lacked), will allow Fair-goers to grab a bite mid-shopping or plan a post-Fair culinary adventure

BEST BETS: DOROTHY, CRAFT AND DESIGN

At press time, approximately half of the exhibitors had yet to be announced, but this Fair definitely possesses a design component. Standouts to date include NYC-based Charon Kransen Arts with its emphasis on studio jewelry that would be at home in the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston’s Drutt Collection; TAI Modern, a Dallas Art Fair regular that is giving HAF a try with its innovative dedication to Japanese bamboo basketry, surprisingly paired with Texas’ best collagist, Lance Letscher; and Fernando Luis Alvarez Gallery, with haunting mixed-media works by John J. Bedoya, a master of organic materials.

Confirmed Houston standard-bearers are return exhibitors Deborah Colton Gallery and Koelsch Gallery. Colton homes in on two women artists.

Her big headliner is the late, great Houston painter Dorothy Hood, concurrent with Hood’s years-in-the-making retrospective curated by Susie Kalil for the Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi; Dorothy is in good company, paired with an installation by Susan Plum, whose glassworks evoke the cosmos. Koelsch veers towards craft, presenting droll paper-doll clothes by Donna Rosenthal that are sure to be crowd-pleasers. Expect more of HAF’s roster to be announced following its sister fair, Art Aspen.

Of course, a lineup of hometown nonprofits will also lend edge. Just in: At least one panel will address Houston’s art history, including a preview of upcoming volumes and archives to resuscitate our scene from the sands of time.

THE ESSENTIALS

When: HAF Opening Night Thursday, September 29, 6 – 8 pm First Look; 8 – 10 pm VIP Pass. Houston Art Fair Friday – Saturday, September 30 – October 1, 11 am (10 am VIP) to 7 pm; Sunday, October 2, 11 am to 6 pm

Where: Silver Street Studios Event Space, 2000 Edwards. Valet parking available.

Tariff: First Look $100 (admits two all weekend), VIP Pass $75 (admits two all weekend), general admission $20 advance, $25 at door

Home, chic home.

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