The Fine Art Ledger had the pleasure of spending some time this weekend at online gallery Saatchi Art's Other Art Fair, at is new venue at Barker Hangar, Santa Monica.
The Fair, running Thursday through today is billed as Saatchi's showcase for emerging talent, and runs in a number of cities including Los Angeles, New York, London and Sydney on a biannual basis. Artists are invited to apply, and if selected have the opportunity to feature their work, enjoy Saatchi curated exposure and PR, and occupy a stand at the Fair, for a small price.
In Saatchi's own words:
"Presented by the world's leading online art gallery Saatchi Art, the Fair showcases work by 100 talented emerging artists, each hand picked by a Selection Committee of art world experts. Art lovers can visit the fair with the confidence that they are buying from the very best and most promising emerging artists in a unique and immersive experience."
Saatchi's hold on the online fine art market, for emerging talent, is well known and it is not surprising why this presents a sought after opportunity to feature in a market which is saturated with talent.
We arrived late in the evening, after nine, on the second night of the show, cold and misty for a Santa Monica, and still found a very busy crowd. The venue, much larger and a change from the previous edition at the downtown LA Majestic earlier in the year, presented a different feel, a little easier to navigate, less congested, but a little disjointed with with perhaps too much space in the large, imposing airport warehouse.
For the early-stage collector the show is a great opportunity not only to add to her collection, but to also learn, and engage directly with the artists.
That's really what makes these fairs so compelling. There is no representation layer, and engaging with artists, some of whom used the opportunity to produce at the fair, not dealers, gives a unique insight and depth to the works which can only encourage increased support and buy-in. All the artist we spoke with were open to tell their stories, describing their work process and their experience with the Fair.
And it seems that this works. For many, it was a family outing, with kids in tow even late into the night. Couples, discussing their purchases with large pieces under-arm as thy exited the hangar. Artists content with sales. Ordinary people waxing lyrical on the virtues of a piece or talking with guarded disbelief. The bar, strategically placed in the center of the space, provided the gravitational pull and point of reference from which people spanned out to the five or six rows of stalls to view, engage and comment. Only the Saatchi Art Lounge, confined to the corner on the side of the entrance looked out of place, perhaps an afterthought as a perceived art fair necessity not quite fitting the egalitarian nature of the show.
If the Saatchi concept solely serves to bring more people to art, more people to start thinking and talking about art, and more people to support artists, then it works.
And work it does. Art presented without pretension is what is needed, both for collectors and artists. And more of this we should be seeing.
The Other Art Fair runs October 25-28th, at Barker Hangar, Santa Monica. http://la.theotherartfair.com/
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