Houston’s first art fair opens tonight from 6-9 with a $100 a ticket fundraiser benefiting the Core Program. I swung by the George R. Brown Convention Center yesterday as the Houston Fine Art Fair’s participating galleries were unloading and setting up. A lot of manual labor goes into making art and a significant amount goes into showing it. There were a lot of rolled up sleeves as gallery owners, employees, significant others and installation teams opened crates and wielded drills and levels.
There is also something kind of nice about seeing things in progress, looking at random works without identifying labels or other artworks to provide context. Is a particular painting hokey or is it ironically hokey? At art fairs, when you are unfamiliar with an artist or gallery you look to the other works shown to give you a sense of things. This is the equivalent of judging a person by the crowd they run with. It can be informative, but it can also lead to unfair assumptions and assessments. Great work can be found paling around with not-so-great work.
I wandered around the fair snapping pictures of stuff that looked interesting. And there appears to be a lot of interesting work on view. Some of the booths were still empty and while I did see some less-than-stellar stuff, that happens at most fairs and it was far from a critical mass.
I’d have more images to post but I shot some of them with the it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time IPhone app, ArtCapture. A helpful Arizona gallerist told me about it and talked me through it, kindly waiting while I tried to remember my App Store password. (I love Apple but I know I am not alone when I ask: Why the hell do you need a password for a free app?????)
Anyway, the way it works, as I understand it, is that galleries can upload images of the works they are showing under the Houston Fine Art Fair category. Fair visitors can then shoot their own images of artwork using the app and then upload and correlate the image and image info with the works the galleries have uploaded. You can apparently also create online galleries of artworks from things you see wherever you go.
I’m sure you can allegedly do more stuff with it but all I know is that all the shit I photographed with the app wasn’t saved. That’s a little frustrating when you spend a couple hours shooting stuff for a blog post. Basically, ArtCapture penalized the galleries I used it for. I’m sure operator error could be a big factor here, but I just photographed my glass of water and went through the image saving process again, no luck. They are apparently cached but the only option offered is to clear them. I’ve emailed and left a message for the ArtCapture people, no word yet. They have a booth at the fair, maybe they can solve the mystery tonight. In theory, it’s a good idea, and I’m sure they’re working things out but right now it’s not user friendly and it seems buggier than our failed organic garden. [UPDATE: I talked to the nice woman at the ArtCapture booth and apparently you can only use it in the Houston Fine Art Fair section of the app to ID and pull up artworks already entered by the gallery. (Most galleries only have one work entered.) If there isn't a correlating artwork, you're out of luck. Even though you have have taken the photo and hit save and named it, it appears to be cached but irretrievable. So why can you allegedly save stuff if you can't get it back? Anyway, maybe someone from ArtCapture will post in the comments and explain things better.]
So, without, further adieu, are the photos I took with my IPhone, sans ArtCapture…(Please accept the standard apologies for shitty photo quality – I had to hurry and pick up the kids.)
Check it out! The Houston Fine Art Fair opens to the public tomorrow (Friday, Sept. 16) at 11:00 am.