There has been a sudden explosion of art fairs in San Francisco. Last year we saw San Francisco Fine Art Fair, the first to set foot on our turf in 10 years. This year, joining said fair are the inaugural shows of both ArtPadSF and artMRKT. However, one of the new comers is doing things a little differently.
ArtMRKT has a philanthropic bent. MRKTworks is the company's charity auction program, creating a platform to give back to local art non-profits. Two weeks prior to the May 19-22 fair, MRKTworks will hold a live, online auction to benefit Art Practical, Headlands Center for the Arts, Creativity Explored and Southern Exposure. Works will be donated by participating artMRKT dealers. (Auction items went live Tuesday, May 3 at 3:30pm. You can view works at mrktworks.art-mrkt.com.)
And proceeds from artMRKT's opening night preview on May 19 will be donated to The Art Program of UCSF Medical Center at Mission Bay. The campus serving children, women, and cancer patients is set to open 2014.
I talked to artMRKT founder Max Fishko, via email, to get a little more info.
SS: This May, you and your partner Jeffrey Wainhause will launch artMRKT. Why now?
MF: San Francisco is ready for a sophisticated international show. The response to last year's event was very positive and given the rebounding economy, I think that there is an opportunity to build a strong, lasting marketplace here.
SS: What will be artMRKT's focus?
MF: ArtMRKT is a juried show that will seek to place contemporary trends alongside historically important work. While juxtaposing something historical with something fresh, we are looking to present a relevant, cohesive exhibition. I am very interested in the social practices movement, which has deep roots in San Francisco. We are selecting from a group of special projects that will reflect that focus.
SS: You're from New York, why launch in San Francisco?
MF: When I was younger, I participated in the earlier versions of the San Francisco fair. When it eventually stopped happening, myself and a number of other New Yorkers were left with fond memories of our experiences there.
SS: The company's mission statement includes your commitment to improve the art world, how are you working to achieve that?
MF: It is my belief that a fair produced with the sincere intention to promote its participating dealers and their programs has the ability to improve the cultural environment in any given city.
It works like this: I am not just trying to attract collectors, I am trying to create new ones. Fairs have a broad marketing reach, broad enough that we will attract people who might otherwise never darken the door of a gallery. If one in ten of those people becomes a collector, we have done some real good.
The more work is collected, then more rent gets paid on galleries and artists' studios and more good work gets made.
That belief is what pushes me to wake up every day and build this show.
SS: Is that where MRKTworks comes in?
MF: MRKTworks is a new idea, one that we have a lot of faith in. Frequently, non-profit partners see fairs as a development opportunity but have a hard time capitalizing on it. In order to solve this problem, we are investing the time and energy to build a development platform for them. By launching the program in advance of the show, we hope to generate some positive word of mouth about the show without competing with our dealers. Its a way that the fair can give back to the community and generate awareness at the same time.
SS: Tell me your approach to technology to further engage the public?
MF: We are building a custom iPhone application that will have rich features and we are working on some new strategies for driving attendance via the web. Unfortunately, you will have to find out about those facets along with everyone else.
SS: What other cities are you planning to extend artMRKT's reach?
MF: We are currently planning artMRKT events in the Hamptons and Houston. We are also looking at a unique venue in Miami that could really change the landscape down there.
All art fairs will hold an opening night preview on May 19 and run through May 22, 2011.
MRKTworks Charity Auction Program opened at 3:30pm, Tuesday, May 3 and closes at 3:30pm Saturday, May 21.
ArtMRKT is at the Concourse Exhibition Center in San Francisco. For tickets and information visit art-mrkt.com.