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Arts / Museums

Houston Fine Art Fair Insider

Behind the Booths and a Really Big Reveal that Changes Everything

BY // 09.11.15

Opening night at the Houston Fine Art Fair at NRG Centre lived up to the buzz, as a crowd swelling to more than 2,500 collectors, museum and nonprofit curators and directors, and the curious turned out Wednesday night. The big event benefitted Houston’s prestigious international nonprofit FotoFest.

Underlining the energy of the Fair’s vernissage was the news that had just been released across the wires — personally relayed to us by Hamptons Expo Group founder/owner Rick Friedman — that he had sold all of his franchises (HFAF as well as fair productions in the Hamptons, Aspen and Palm Springs) — to one of the country’s largest producers of trade shows: Urban Expositions. The Urban Expos brand, headquartered in the Atlanta suburb of Kennesaw, Georgia, is also the producer of the acclaimed design-focused SOFA (Sculpture Objects Functional Art + Design) show, based in Chicago; other enterprises range the gamut from gift shops to restaurants and aviation shows.

Urban Expositions president/CEO Doug Miller told us he plans to make a big commitment to the Houston show. Stay tuned for more details as they unfold. (We wondered if this could mean a new calendar date for Houston Fine Art Fair, or the inclusion of more design and craft, reflecting the emphasis of SOFA.)

I’ll be returning to the fair today to query Michelle Barnes on the occasion of her receiving the Illumination Award for Arts Education.

Here’s what caught my eye during Wednesday’s visit:

The Dorothy Hood Pavilion curated by the Art Museum of South Texas, Corpus Christi was outstanding and inspiring. The museum is seeking funds for a Hood international tour; their retrospective of Hood, curated by Susie Kalil, opens on September 29, 2016. (Don’t miss the Dorothy Hood movie screening tomorrow at the Fair, Saturday, September 12, at 3 p.m. Across from the museum pavilion, a Hood drawing in Parkerson Gallery’s booth was a bonus view.)

Holiday Gifting

  • Loeffler Randall - Shoes
  • Nocturne Studio
  • Oscar De La Renta - Clutch
  • Loeffler Randall - Clutch
  • Casa di Lino
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Oscar De La Renta - Earrings
  • Mariquite Masterson
  • Cle Du Peau - Nail Polish
  • Cle Du Peau - Lip Gloss
  • Bond No 9 - Perfume
  • Bond No 9 - Candle

Susan Plum‘s profound spindle, executed in glass, which mirrors Mayan cosmology, at Deborah Colton Gallery. The artist’s solo show opens on Saturday at Deborah Colton Gallery, serving as the Fair’s unofficial after party.

Mariana Valdes Debes‘ curation of the “Paper Today,” including Maribel Portela‘s intriguing cascading blooms, nicely paired with tree trunks bearing images by Miler Lagos, both of whom are Latin American talents.

Late Houston artist — and mentor to Julian SchnabelJoe Glasco was one of the stars of the booth curated by former Chronicle art scribe Patricia Johnson honoring hometown Hall of Fame artists.

Also, in the historic realm, 19th-century canvases at Atlanta exhibitors Spalding Nix Fine Art and Kendall Fine Art indeed merit a return trip.

Pre-Columbian textiles and feather-adorned garb at Dallas-based Muzeion was another surprise, paired with contemporary work. (The ancient Incas won hands-down.)

But the wild card of the big reveal was turning a corner and colliding with a booth bursting with the big-eyed waifs of cult fave Margaret Keane — whose captivating, albeit strange path to art-world fame was recently featured in the Tim Burton-directed flick Big Eyes, with Amy Adams cast as Miz Keane, paintbrush in hand. (Adams captured a Golden Globe for her performance.) The booth also features movie memorabilia, including a pic of artist and actress in dialogue.)

Tune in next week for more, including our chat with provocateur Paul Middendorf, co-curator/performer in the Art League of Houston booth.

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