7th International Art Fair Toronto: Art Toronto 2006

Submitted by Evelyn Kiefer on Sun, 11/12/2006 - 02:23.

I had the great pleasure to attend the 7th Toronto International Art Fair:  “Art Toronto 2006”.  Over 80 galleries from all over the world  selling  20th and 21st century art were represented at the four day event held at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. The majority of the galleries were from Canada, but there were also many from the United States and Germany and others from Spain, England, the Netherlands, Columbia and Argentina. 

This was my first international art fair, and I found it equally impressive and overwhelming. I expected more art like what you see in the type of galleries you find at upscale lifestyle center malls in the United States, but I was pleasantly surprised to find none of that. I recognized more artist's names than I expected to. As an art historian, I sometimes feel far removed from the world of living artists and contemporary art. I saw several impressive works by Jean-Paul Riopelle, a painter I think of as the Canadian  Jackson Pollock... I noticed one of his paintings sold for over $100,000. There were several photographs of Christo and Jean-Claude's work's by the couple's official photographer. I recognized a group of sculptures by renown Canadian glass artist Susan Edgerley. But, Sculptures were definitely in the minority; however, there were plenty of paintings, photographs, prints and drawings.

Art seemed to be selling well at “Art Toronto 2006.” I saw plenty of red dots on labels, although I am not sure how the sales aspect really works. The event was geared to collectors, with a special preview party on Thursday night, but to me an art fair seems like an overwhelming place to buy art. It seemed like a good place to locate a gallery that represents artists that interest you, and perhaps schedule a visit to buy art later.  Gallery staff seemed friendly and accessible during the art fair. Surprisingly I did not encounter anyone too aggressive in their sales strategy – it may have been my media badge, but I did not overhear any obnoxious sale pitches either.  Galleries seemed to be trying to appeal to one or the other of two approaches to art collecting. One can either buy works by artists who have already made it into the cannon of art history, such as Picasso, Christo and Jean-Claude, Riopelle, Calder, Manet, Duffet, Chuck Close (all artists I saw represented at Art Toronto 2006) or one can buy works by emerging, little-known artists. Both approaches can be viewed as investment strategies and both approaches can also be based primarily on aesthetic appeal.

One of my favorite pieces at “Art Toronto 2006” was an installation presented by the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art (MOCCA). Titled Salon Indien, this work was provocative, witty, humorous, and technically very well executed. Artist Kent Monkman created a 30' high tipi complete with gilded poles, a red brocade fabric cover and a crystal chandelier inside as a theater in which to show his super-8mm film  Group of Seven inches. Monkman was also the star of this film as his homo erotic alter ego Miss Chief Eagle Testickle. Because it was the only gallery space in Exhibition Hall E that was not created by 10' partisans, I was immediately eager to go inside the tipi. Inside, Monkman's film was projected on a tanned hide on the floor as viewers came and went as they pleased. Monkman drew his inspiration for Group of Seven Inches from actual historic events; the exhibition of George Catlin's Indian portraits in London and the first public screenings of Lumiere's Cinematographe in the Salon Indien in Paris. Some elements of the film, the ones I found most entertaining, like the costume he wore as Miss Chief Eagle Testickle complete with platform heels and sequined headband, were from his own creative imagination.

According to Lauren Dando, one of the organizers, the fair was very well attended. It would have been unpleasantly crowded if any more people had attended  Saturday afternoon when I was there. Trying to take it all in (all 3,000 + works), I tried to be brief at each gallery's booth, but I often found myself getting boxed in by people who wanted to linger longer than I did before a certain work. 

Above all, "Art Toronto 2006"  gave me a more global perspective of the art world. Living in the United States, it's easy to believe that New York is still the center of the art world. Especially after attending one of the "Power Talks" sponsored by The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery in Harbour Front Centre, Toronto, it became clear to me that the art world is fast becoming decentralized. One of the two themes of this years "Power Talks" are "institutional futures for contemporary art."  I chose to attend one of the "institutional futures" talks with Hedwig Fijen, Founding Director of Manifesta European Biennial of Contemporary Art, which has existed since 1996. I had never heard of Manifesta before. It is a roving European art event that functions collaboratively, largely without geographic boundries. Its concept was astounding to me. And so goes the International Arts world.

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Glocalization, Toronto International Art Fair and NEO

I've heard talk of having an international arts fair in Cleveland (different than Ingenuity, which shows great promise, thanks James Levin) - the idea is to hold something dsimilar to the Toronto International Arts Fair (TIAF) described here, and I support that. But, I think as we prepare for that we need to start doing other international arts things well, like participating in the international arts world. Evelyn and I covered the TIAF this past weekend and there were folks from around the world but nothing representing the arts world in NEO. Yet I could picture our NEO booth... our May Show... a lampwork sculpture from Brent Young for $60,000, and a Julian Stanczak painting for $100,000, and a Barbara Stanczak sculpture for $10,000, and a Schrekengost Jazz Bowl for $15,000 (could throw in a few other cool items by him, like his new Year of the Pig design), a Douglas Max Utter painting for $10,000, a Derek Hess Painting for $10,000, one of Robert Banks' movies streaming, a CIA invitational space, and... well, that would leave the booth 3/4 empty and I could name 100 more artists to be there, and that could make the artists and arts sector $100,000s (split the proceeds) and expand awareness of art in NEO. ... perhaps there could have been renderings of the new MoCA (to compliment the model of the new Art Gallery of Ontario), which could attract major donations... show a model of the new Cleveland Museum of Art (which could attract donations and bring visitors)... the Cleveland Institute of Art could be a co-sponsor, and we could bring bus-loads of students and faculty the 4.5 hours to participate. Sitting at the table in the booth would be a team of NEO arts promoters. Perhaps the same thing would be happening 6 hours to the West in Chicago at SOFA. I really don't understand the small-world approach to art we have here when I can go to arts communities in our half-day driving sphere, which want us to be part of their global arts world, and I see no sign anyone in the arts scene in NEO is participating. I suggest taking the NEO arts scene glocal as an important step into the future.

Speaking of Brent Young, NM had him in NY for SOFA06

For another posting, I was exploring top Cleveland Glass artist Brent Young's virtual presence and I came across this listing on the SOFA NY 2006 website, so he was there under the support of Jane Sauer Gallery Thirteen Moons in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the website for which shows the work featured below was sold for $18,000. That was probably about it for NEO at SOFA NY, and it is hard to call that a success for NEO Glocal arts economic development, but good for Brent! His work is amazing.


Brent Young
Matrix Series: Amphora, What the Future Holds…
Glass - 52 x 14 x 14
Photo: Dan Fox, Lumina Studio
Jane Sauer Gallery Thirteen Moons,
Santa Fe, NM

Disrupt IT

Toronto International Art Fair Oct 22-26, 2009

  Will there be representation from Ohio and/or Cleveland?

Just curious to know whether any one has plans to attend this year's Toronto Art Fair?

If we do go, I will provide some coverage, but it's still a big "if" right now.