September 7, 2019

ART FOR ALL

The Other Art Fair lands in Dallas with an affordable, ambitious slate of programming

What if you could purchase unique works directly from the talents that created them, without a gallery go-between or overblown auction price?

That’s the premise of The Other Art Fair, an international event created to champion emerging and independent artists. Founded by Ryan Stanier in 2011 in London, the fair has since grown exponentially, with offshoots in Brooklyn, Chicago, Los Angeles, Melbourne, and Sydney. Its Dallas edition launches next weekend at Market Center Hall.

“The whole reason for it starting was really to create a platform for artists that didn’t have an exclusive arrangement with a gallery to show their work in front of a buying audience,” says Stanier. “I had a lot of friends that were artists—you may rate your work, but if you’re not with a gallery, how do you get it out there?”

Exhibiting artist Melanie Clemmons

With a background in art fairs, Stanier was struck with the concept when he was attending another event in Hong Kong. He was smart enough to launch at a time that social media was also allowing up-and-comers to bypass the gallery system through platforms like Instagram.

“The whole industry changed so much—many artists aren’t even looking for gallery representation now,” he says. “Social media is a fantastic tool to get your work seen. The art world has shifted a lot, and that works well for us.”

Stanier emphasizes he’s “not anti-gallery”—several gallerists are on the advisory committee for the Dallas edition, including 12.26’s Hannah Fagadau and Galleri Urbane’s Ree Willaford. Instead, he sees The Other Art Fair as a viable part of any healthy art city, as well as an ideal platform for young artists to get their feet wet in a competitive industry. Of the 120 participants showing their work in Dallas, 75 are Texas-based.

“What I like most about our (selection) process, which has always been the same from day one, is it’s perfectly democratic,” says Stanier. “We look for influential people in the scene and reach out to them to explain what we do and ask if they’d be happy to help with selections. The selection committee bases their choices on the work—there’s no direction given whatsoever, just the quality. That way, you get a real mix: sculpture painting, photography, and digital art.”

Exhibiting artist Jennifer Henderson

Artists rent their booths directly from the fair, which takes a 15% commission on sales. Once the event has ended, participants can sell their works on the online gallery Saatchi Art.

The Other Art Fair is equally beneficial to young collectors—prices start at around $100 for a high-edition print, with prices for work maxing out at about $6,000.  Participating artists are matched with curators to gain an understanding of how best to arrange their exhibition space, and a pre-fair workshop fills them in on how to speak to potential buyers.

“It’s very much a collaborative process, unlike other fairs. A lot of artists are good about talking and selling their work, but others need more hand-holding, and we’re very much there for them.”

Exhibiting artist Daniela Pasqualini

Because Stanier wants the event to be more of a 360-degree experience, he also packs the schedule full of ancillary classes and events related to everything from tattoos to taxidermy. In the Dallas edition, patrons can learn about ink painting and dying (Thursday), photography and bowl weaving (Friday), watercolors and calligraphy (Saturday) and the connection between yoga and art (Sunday).

But in the end, what has made the fair an international success is the work. “You never know what you’ll find—one artist, Ernesto Cánovas, sold his paintings for $1,000 with us two years ago, and he got signed by (London’s) Halcyon Gallery. Now the lowest price for his work is $35,000, which is quite a considerable jump in three years. I think the exciting thing about coming to The Other Art Fair is you can find the next big thing.” —Kendall Morgan 

The Details: The Other Art Fair will be held Thursday, September 19 through Sunday, September 22 at Dallas Market Center Hall, 2200 Stemmons Freeway. Tickets are available in advance through Eventbrite.