March is the month that invites spring. It is also one of the last months of “the season”. South Florida has seasons indirectly related to weather. Our seasons are dictated by snowbird arrivals and departures. Art Fairs and other happenings proliferate during “in” seasons.
This past weekend featured Art Boca Raton. Next Level Events offers this overly idealistic explanation of their second child:
“Art Boca Raton is an international art fair from the organizers of Art Palm Beach. International galleries will be exhibiting modern, contemporary, and emerging artists from the 20th and 21st centuries. The five day fair includes a full schedule of collector lectures, artist talks, artist’s demonstrations, curatorial tours and invitations to community satellite art events at local art institutions. Collectors and art lovers are encouraged to take advantage of the fair’s full offerings to immerse themselves in enriching their knowledge in art history and current art trends in collecting and viewing art.”
I have attended each year since its inception 3 years ago. This year I manned a booth for FAU’s arts program; displaying literature and student art work. Experiencing Art Boca Raton from this vantage point helped me create this quick bullet list on what I don’t like about art fairs.
- Whiny patrons. Nothing ever seems to be satisfactory. They lurch from booth to booth complaining about the booth they’ve just left. If the artwork they see doesn’t appeal to their personal sense of aesthetics, then it is immediately an affront and their anger singes those in their periphery.
- Whiny participants. The hours I spent defending FAU’s arts program were punctuated by other booth participants dropping in to complain about the air conditioning, other booth participants, lack of foot traffic and signage. There was an inordinate amount of order pecking.
- Artist to actual patron ratio. The vast majority of patrons were not actually patrons but artists either on a self-promoting campaign or an idea appropriating safari. This lot are quite annoying and gauche.
- Pretense. The booths were mostly occupied by representatives of art galleries desperately trying to create an air of opulence that must be evident in the mother gallery. It is difficult to pull off when potential clients must leave the facility and step over hefty auxiliary power unit cords to powder their noses in port-a-potty trucks. The reality is not so easily disguised.
For what it was, it was good. The security and staff were on point. Live tasteful music was being performed during most of the event and once the air conditioning issues were resolved there was very little to complain about.
Art fairs offer galleries the opportunity to leave the brick and mortar front to pop up elsewhere and lure new clientele. The environment is more casual and therefore less intimidating for individuals to peruse pricey art while they consider taking a leap. It would behoove gallerists to engage and educate anyone wandering into their space. The purchase of art is primarily an emotional decision; so galleries should do whatever it takes to stimulate dopamine receptors.