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Arts / Galleries

The Ultimate Guide to the Texas Contemporary Art Fair

New York Ownership Embraces Houston’s Messy Vitality

BY // 09.26.16

Texas Contemporary Fair blows back into town this week for three days and one night, at the George R. Brown Convention Center. In a half dozen years since New York-based Art Market launched the Texas Contemporary in Houston — their other fairs include Miami Project and the Seattle Art Fair, the latter produced in tandem with Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen — the Fair has distinguished itself with works appealing to top collectors within the contemporary arena.

Don’t expect the pristine polish of the Dallas Art Fair; this Fair has a vibe more suited for Houston — a messy vitality (remember year one’s Andy Coolquitt explosion in the aisles?) and a more expansive, diverse collecting focus (because our town’s mega collectors are not ruled by a cadre of New York art advisors).

Watch for the reimagined VIP Lounge, where Gensler promises a jaw-dropping structure, as well as insider experiences, collector tours, and privileged museum access, all perks provided by newly minted Select Patron Pass and Patron Pass tickets, which both benefit Contemporary Arts Museum Houston during Opening Night. PaperCity magazine returns as media sponsor, pairing the Fair with significant luxury retailers — Akris and Saks Fifth Avenue — who host tony parties for the Host Committee and Collector Pass holders.

Programming steps up with the main attraction: Michael Chow, aka Mr. Chow, in conversation with Sotheby’s senior VP Eric Shiner (the former Warhol Museum director who co-organized Chow’s international exhibition when it touched down in Pittsburgh this spring). Read more on Mr. Chow’s return to painting here, and look for his paintings in the booths of Barbara Davis and Cindy Lisica.

SPANISH IS DECIDEDLY SPOKEN

There’s no wall to Mexico here. The Texas Contemporary continues “The Other Mexico,” a curatorial coup begun in 2015. Once again, Leslie Moody Castro returns, an eagerly watched curator who travels between Mexico and Texas. Last year, Moody Castro presented galleries and nonprofits from Mexico City for a special Fair section; this year, she has expanded and deepened that focus, while the Mexican Consulate General steps up to partner with the Fair to bring five emerging art spaces from four cities in Mexico (besides the capital, Guadalajara, Oaxaca, and Monterrey) including Parallel Oaxaca, and Lulu and FIFI Projects, all new to the Fair. Returning will be Mexico City heavy hitter Galería Enrique Guerrero, which stole the show in 2015 with its architectural dioramas by Miguel Ángel Madrigal; expect more from Madrigal in Guerrero’s booth. Mexican artists are also given their day by exhibiting U.S. dealers: Head to Joseph Gross Gallery for Jet Martinez’s Mexican-folk influenced panels.

The Verucruz-raised talent, who has been touted by Hi-Fructose, nods to such byways as Michoacán lacquered plates with their beautiful florid florals. At Alida Anderson Art Projects, Mexican photographer Dulce Pinzón’s series “The Real Story of the Superheroes” is an apt rebuttal of a certain presidential candidate.

Then, investigate the Fair’s new arrival from Buenos Aires, Henrique Faria, with its stable of historic abstract modernists Alejandro PuenteNorberto Puzzolo, Osvaldo Romberg, Mirtha Dermisache, and León Ferrari. (Expect to see the MFAH’s powerful Latin American curator Mari Carmen Ramírez stopping by Faria’s booth.)

MAS WHITE CUBES

Other highlights among the 50 exhibiting galleries include New York notables Damien Hirst’s Other Criteria, a must-shop for multiples and editioned works by YBAs and more, including Mr. Hirst himself; and one of the original members of New Art Dealers Alliance, ZieherSmith, bringing languid abstractions based in reality by Lauren Silva and Tucker Nichols. From New Orleans, the pioneering Jonathan Ferrara Gallery presciently emphasizes a trio of female painters: Margaret Evangeline, Marna Shopoff, and Bonnie Maygarden.

Finally, the hometown team promises to acquit itself quite nicely, represented at press time by stalwarts Inman Gallery, Moody Gallery and Barbara Davis Gallery, joined by David Shelton Gallery (watch for a Vincent Valdez “Klan” drawing), and recent arrival from Pittsburgh, Cindy Lisica Gallery, with its Warhol Museum connections.

THE ESSENTIALS

TEXAS CONTEMPORARY ART FAIR, Year Six

WHEN: Opening Night, Thursday, September 29; Select Patron Pass and Patron Pass holders now have access starting at 6 pm; VIP and Multi-Day Pass Holders, 8 to 10 pm.

Fair dates: Friday – Sunday, September 30 – October 2; hours Friday and Saturday, 11 am to 7 pm; Sunday, noon to 6 pm

WHERE: George R. Brown Convention Center. Valet parking available

TICKETS: Select Patron Pass $350 and Patron Pass $150, both benefitting the CAMH; Multi-Day Pass $50; One-Day Ticket $25

CONTACT: Info/tickets, click here.

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