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Now is a good time to see a whole lot of art all at once. Between the Spring MFA exhibitions and the commercial Art Fair selection, viewers can see a boatload of art in one place, and one-percenters can conveniently make a big dent in their art-collecting budgets. ArtMrkt, the SF Fine Art Fair, and ArtPadSF are all going down this weekend, and we jumped on the first pair of free tickets we were offered (Thank you, kind folks at Marx Zavattero Gallery).


Art Fairs are new to San Francisco; this is the second annual showdown. They are strange occasions where the blissfully ignored line between art and commerce stands proudly in the spotlight. ArtPadSF was our chosen fair, held in the Phoenix hotel on the heels of SFAI's MFA show. It would be easy to make a sleazy joke about galleries paying hourly rates to sell their goods in skeezy hotel rooms, so we won't. There was a Butoh performance in the hotel's pool, and that was funny enough for us.

Some of our favorite local galleries took up residence at the Phoenix, including Electric Works, Eleanor Harwood, The Luggage Store, Marx Zavattero, and Swarm, and we were also excited for the opportunity to see out-of-towners on our home turf, such as New Image Art from LA, among others.

On one hand, we were disappointed. Safe, salable works were aplenty, but we did see a few gems, including an appropriately sexy George Kuchar tribute leftover from the SFAI show, and loveable pieces from a few of our favorites like Libby Black, Barry McGee, Andrew Schoultz, Os Gemeos, and the Date Farmers. We were also stunned by an incredibly realistic sculpture of a dead Courtney Love lookalike, who Emmanuel apologized to as he shot an awkward close-up several moments before realizing he was photographing a dummy.

One art fair perk was major: the celebrity sightings. Ron Turner of Last Gasp, and local artists Paul Madonna and Ann Weber were just a few of the luminaries we spotted. And at the veggie Vietnamese restaurant around the corner, we dined a few yards from Mission School royalty: Barry McGee, Chris Johanson, and Jo Jackson.

This was our first SF Art Fair, and we've concluded that it was worth a late-night trip to the TL, but that we'd rather see a mobile art fair fleet: airstream trailers and cruise ships travelling the Bay Area, overflowing with art and champagne. We demand more decadence and splendor in 2013. We want a fair to remember.

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