Author: AnnaMaria Stephens
Photo: Art San Diego
Information Provided By: Riviera San Diego
San Diego’s answer to Art Basel may not be internationally iconic—yet—but it’s definitely mastered the successful artfest formula. Now in its sixth year, Art San Diego showcases the best of regional contemporary talent and beyond alongside the bacchanalian mingling of the scene’s longtime luminaries and bright young things.
The four-day fair, held Nov. 6-9 at Balboa Park, will feature more than 50 local, national and international exhibitors. But this is no mere knockoff. Art San Diego offers unexpected collaborations between cutting-edge artists and institutions, not to mention wine tastings, intimate meet-and-greets, a first-dibs collector’s preview and a VIP party.
“It’s the who’s who of the art world,” says Ann Berchtold, founder and director of Art San Diego. “Opening night is always standing room only.”
As always, this year’s San Diego Art Prize winners will be exhibiting alongside their emerging-artist picks. Photographer Philipp Scholz Rittermann, known for his urban and natural landscapes, chose minimalist artist (and full-time Robert Irwin assistant) Joseph Huppert. Marianela de la Hoz, whose highly detailed paintings have a surrealist bent, selected Bhavna Mehta, who makes intricate, storytelling paper cuts.
“The works are site-specific for the fair,” says Berchtold. “It makes the experience much more dynamic to have interesting installations. It’s also an opportunity to showcase nonprofits.”
Del Mar-based artist group A Ship in the Woods collaborated with Salk neurobiologist John Reynolds, sound artist Greg Smaller (LABS), researcher Daw-An Wu and Paradox, an award-winning student group from NewSchool of Architecture, to design Rhodopsin, an Art Lab that plays with sensory perception. “In complete darkness, your eyes don’t know where to focus,” says A Ship in the Woods co-founder RJ Brooks. “Flashes of light create after-images in your mind that are almost dreamlike.”
Collective Magpie—UC San Diego grad students MR Barnadas and Tae Hwang—worked with architect Steven Lombardi on a central lounge area. “The space will be made up of thousands of inflated, candy-colored plastic bags,” say the duo, who were inspired by the fleeting creations of Mexican paper balloon artisans for their latest body of work, which probes the relationship between production and consumption. “Guests can build it with us or just relax and watch.”
For Saturday night’s festivities, painter Perry Vasquez paired up with video jockey Aaron McFarland for a contemporary audiovisual update on Dante’s Inferno. “The Gates of Heck,” which features Vasquez on guitar and voice, references Marvel superhero comics, schlock movies, rock ’n’ roll music and immigrant border-crossing issues.
And then there’s the dance party, with beats by L.A.’s Dublab. The catch? Revelers will be wearing headphones, shaking it in silence and giving the whole thing a performance-art feel. It is an art fair, after all.
Don’t forget the show within the show. Latin American art steps into the spotlight at this year’s fair with the ArtSpot International Zone. Based on a model introduced in Miami last year, the stand-alone event will feature modern and contemporary artwork—including selections from Tijuana’s Nodo Galería, a former Art San Diego LaunchPad pick—as well as back-to-back panel talks on Nov. 7 from the likes of in-demand Miami art dealer and curator Aldo Castillo. “He’s informed numerous collections,” says Berchtold, adding that Art San Diego will continue to expand its horizons. “One of the goals is to make Art S.D. internationally known.”