SF Fine Arts Fair

Thursday night Gail and I headed off to Fort Mason for the annual San Francisco Fine Arts Fair.  It was opening night, there would be a party, and several of the artists we know and collect would be in attendance, so a good time was easy to predict.

The Fair is a commercial enterprise: galleries from all over the world come to showcase their goodies and try to reel in the customers.  It’s a treat for us because we get to see the best of many galleries in one easy trip.

In past years, this has been a huge show, encompassing two large buildings on the water at Fort Mason with dozens of galleries from Europe, Latin America and Asia, but the slow economy has taken a major toll on the art business–expenses don’t get much more discretionary than purchasing art.

There is an admission fee–$20 for one day, $100 for the entire show and the opening party.  They seem to be papering the house, though, because we got comp tickets from both the event organizers and a gallery where we look but have never purchased anything.

Attendance was big–the parking lot was full.  I tried to get into valet parking but they were full, too, so I followed some guy while he slowly wandered around and got into his car and left.

The show was great, but what’s not to like about lots of art and free wine?  We ran into friends:

Gail with Jane Burton, a sculptor from Walnut Creek

Harry Siter and Gail in the booth where his work was being exhibited.

Other signs of a poor economy:

I saw one gallery from Zurich, one from Barcelona.  The rest were predominately either local or from Santa Fe.

The works being shown were newer, from less well known artists.  Not a Picasso or Chagall or Calder in sight.

There was much more photography than in  the past–which always suits me fine, because I love it.  But photographs tend to be much less costly than other works of art. (Notwithstanding the Cindy Sherman photo that went for over $3,900,000 at auction in New York last week, setting a new record.)

There was wine, but no food, no live music.  Definitely keeping the costs down.

I didn’t look at every single work, but the most expensive thing I saw was an Ansel Adams photograph, Moonrise, Hernandez New Mexico.  This is an iconic work and one of the best known photographs in history, and reasonably priced at $60,000.  That’s a ton of money,surely,  but nothing compared to the multi-million dollar pieces I have seen at this fair in years past.

So we enjoyed ourselves, saw friends and art and had a good time.  And managed to get in and out without buying anything, which is always a challenge.  There was one piece I wanted (besides the Adams photo I’ll never be able to afford), and that was a new piece from our friend Harry.

A horse head from Guernica on a beautiful body

Not a large piece, maybe 15″ high.  Sterling silver.  The head is interchangeable with others he had made, but this is the one that works for me.  Sadly, it’s $10,000, so it’s staying at the Fair. Strange to see something so small from Harry–he tends to make very large pieces merging bronze and wood, like this:

Not the largest of Harry's work, to be sure

The show runs all weekend.  If you aren’t playing at the sectional, give it a try, I think you’ll enjoy it.

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