Armory Arts Week: Fountain Art Fair – Directors Cut

By - Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

Fountain Art Fair opens to the public this Friday, March 7th. The fair has been running since 2006 and has become the crowd favorite for emerging artists with a big emphasis on Street Art. Over 80 galleries will be represented from all of the world; earlier this week we posted some coverage on Station 16 out of Montreal who will be returning with some new work including a batch of Emergency Pull Stations from local artists Enzo & Nio. The opening night will feature performances and a DJ similar to last year. We had the chance to catch up with the director, Elizabeth Tully, for a quick Q&A session and below is what she had to say. How long have you been director of Fountain Art Fair and what’s the most rewarding part?
This is my first show as Director of Fountain. I started as an intern in 2009. Without a doubt, the most rewarding part is working with our amazing team of friends and artists from throughout the country and around the world.

Is there a reason that Fountain tends to focus more on emerging artists and also has a heavier focus Street Art as compared to some of the other fairs?
Our goal is to be an accessible entry point for emerging artists, galleries and collectors. We keep our booth prices lower than the other fairs and we haven’t raised our regular ticket prices in years. We believe that everyone should be able to participate in the art world, not just a privileged few. Street art can be enjoyed by anyone when it’s out in the real world, but it’s ephemeral by nature. A lot of our exhibitors recognize the public’s desire to own a permanent piece of that history. Personally, I’ve bought several limited-edition prints from artists who’s mural work I admire. It’s the next best thing to having someone actually paint one in my apartment.

Do you think Fountain could hold up well in other cities or is it better suited for New York which has such a strong and vibrant Street Art scene and community?
We hit Chicago during Art EXPO this past September and it was incredible. EXPO is wonderful and we were thrilled to see them breathe new life into Chicago’s art fair scene. We found that the galleries and artists who were unable to participate were asking for a fair of their own. We were able to come in alongside Johalla Projects at Mana Contemporary and provide a platform for them. The public response was positive and sales were strong. I think Fountain can thrive in any city where there is a vibrant scene happening and people who want to engage with art on their own terms.

What are some of the highlights that visitors shouldn’t miss this year?
I’m very excited to introduce daily panel discussions to our program. We will be focusing on issues of art in public space, women in street art and the new Muralism. Our interactive media installation, OF LANDSCAPE. will also be a fun addition for visitors. Limited edition prints by respected artists available for less than $50 are always a win. And, of course, our weekend long performance programming, floating street art installation and dj dance parties will be bringing the heat as well.

The public only gets to see the finished part of the fair over a three day period, how much time and effort goes into making this a successful event?
We work year round to develop the New York show, as well as other cities and local initiatives. New York is a massive undertaking for us. Skipping Art Basel Miami Beach this year allowed us even more time to focus on expanding our programming here, which has been great.

If you could bring an artist back to life from any period to create more work who would it be?
Felix Gonzalez-Torres. His work triggered my first big “Art moment” when I was 12 visiting the MoMa with my mom. I am still amazed at the way he was able to connect and break down those barriers between the artist, artwork and viewer.

Besides the art on display by the galleries are there any special performances slated for this year?
We have invited our friends Analog/Analogue up from Florida to curate performances throughout the weekend alongside Brooklyn’s Grace Exhibition Space. Together they’ve planned an incredible program. I’m especially looking forward to some high flying antics during Friday’s opening reception and Annie Sprinkle’s presentation on Sunday afternoon. Nick Zinner and Reachout will spin Friday evening and I’m super hyped for The Deep djs on Saturday night.

Are there any plans to bring the fair back to Miami or any other locations?
We are already in planning mode for Chicago in September and we hope to return to Miami in 2014 in a new venue, after losing ours to an automatic weapon shop and firing range in Wynwood. I would love to expand internationally in 2015.

Any last words?
Fountain is the place to go for art. So many people want to live with original artwork, but they think they can’t afford it and feel intimidated. You can actually afford to buy at Fountain. Visitors are encouraged to hang out, explore and ask questions. There’s really nothing else like it, you have to experience it to understand.

The event will run from Friday until Sunday at the 69th Regiment Armory located Lexington Avenue and 26th Street. Text: Spencer Elzey Photos: Fountain Art Fair

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