What summer slowdown? Seattle Art Fair expands

The event draws blue-chip galleries from across the US to the Pacific Northwest

by Gabriella Angeleti  |  1 August 2016
What summer slowdown? Seattle Art Fair expands
Seattle Art Fair: more than 20 newcomers are joining the mix for the event’s second edition this year. Photo courtesy of Seattle Art Fair
Against the grain of the art market’s traditional summer slowdown, the Seattle Art Fair is growing after a successful launch last year. Forty-six newcomers, including New York’s Pace/MacGill and Marlborough galleries, are among more than 80 exhibitors (up from 62) participating in the second edition this August. Founded by the billionaire Paul Allen, the Seattle-born co-founder of Microsoft, the fair aims to nurture the “budding collector base” in the region, says its director, Max Fishko. “We plan to make it a magnet for collectors from the Pacific Rim and from around the US.”

The exhibitor list is suitably mixed, with 34 galleries from the West Coast, 27 from the East Coast, six from the central US and 18 international galleries. The New York- and London-based David Zwirner, New York’s Pace and the local dealer Mariane Ibrahim are among the 35 exhibitors returning, motivated by “the enthusiastic response and strong sales” last year says Elizabeth Sullivan, the president of Pace Palo Alto. 

“We did really well in the inaugural edition, and expect the fair to build on that momentum this year,” says Eric Gleason, the director of Paul Kasmin Gallery in New York. The gallery is bringing a new installation by the US artist Roxy Paine, Experiment (2016), which refers to the CIA’s psychoactive experiments in the 1960s, as well as works by Robert Motherwell, Bernar Venet and Iván Navarro.

“We have fine hopes for our first year,” says Doug McClemont, the director of Marlborough in New York. The gallery will show a new installation by the Seattle-based glass artist Dale Chihuly, who founded the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum in 2012 next to the city’s landmark Space Needle. The artist “already has a huge presence in Seattle, which is one of the factors that led us to join the fair”, McClemont adds.

Meanwhile, the Los Angeles-based writer and curator Laura Fried has taken up the new role of artistic director, organising talks and projects that will “spotlight the cross-pollination among diverse practices from LA to Vancouver”, from sculpture and performance to architecture and technology, she says. Fried’s programme will also extend into the city, with a sound piece and choral performance by the musician Brendan Fowler in Pioneer Square.

The fair, which is co-produced by Allen’s philanthropic investment firm Vulcan and Art Market Productions, signals that the “summer slowdown in the art business… is not as prevalent as previously thought”, Fishko says. “The summer is a great time to be in Seattle.”

• Seattle Art Fair, CenturyLink Field Event Center (WaMu Theater), Seattle, 5-7 August

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