Intersect Aspen, formerly Art Aspen, launching virtual art fair with 100-plus galleries
IF YOU GO …
What: Intersect Aspen
When: Wednesday, July 22 through Sunday, July 26
Where: intersectaspen.com and art-aspen.com
More info: In addition to virtual viewing rooms, the art fair will host artist talks online with Fred Tomaselli (July 22, 11 a.m.), Sanford Biggers (July 24, 11 a.m.) and Kelly Akashi (July 26, 11 a.m.).
Aspen’s biggest art fair has a new name, new producer and no physical venue for 2020, as Intersect Aspen — formerly Art Aspen — goes virtual amid the coronavirus pandemic.
It will run online from Wednesday through Sunday, presenting virtual viewing rooms by 110 galleries from 28 countries.
Becca Hoffman, the contemporary art fair’s new managing director, started her gig March 1, just as COVID-19 hit the U.S. She joined Intersect after seven years running the Outsider Art Fair in New York and Paris.
“It’s been a journey to figure out how to virtually network during these times,” Hoffman said in a video chat interview from New York.
Without coming to Aspen, and without visiting most of the galleries coming to the fair, it’s been an unusual period of preparation.
“I am so used to being on the ground,” she said. “The reason why the Outsider Art Fair Paris was a success was because I spent so much time on the ground there. To be doing this from my intuition and my gut from the East Coast is so different.”
Still, the virtual version — announced in May — has drawn wide global interest from the art world. The virtual 2020 fair is arguably a more comprehensive representation of global contemporary art than the Aspen art fair — hosted in the Aspen Ice Garden annually since 2012 — has boasted before. With shipping and travel costs and physical logistics out of the way, more galleries signed with the fair.
“I heard from galleries in Paris and Berlin, for instance, who said, ‘The Aspen fair has always been on my radar but I’ve never been in a position to take the gamble to come,’” Hoffman said. “This platform is allowing them that opportunity.”
Aspen galleries represented in the virtual fair include Marianne Boesky Gallery, Casterline|Goodman. Cha Cha, Galerie Maximillian, Harvey Preston Gallery and Skye Gallery.
Hoffman is particularly excited about sharing the Thornton Dial show from Marianne Boesky Gallery with the fair’s global audience, as the self-taught artist’s work comes from the outsider tradition Hoffman has spent years promoting.
A daily silent auction, “One Thing,” will feature exclusive content to raise money for local and regional beneficiaries including the Art Base, Aspen Film, Carbondale Arts, the Center for African American Health and Valley Settlement.
In addition to virtual viewing rooms, the art fair will host artist talks online with Fred Tomaselli (Wednesday, 11 a.m.), Sanford Biggers (Friday, 11 a.m.) and Kelly Akashi (Sunday, 11 a.m.). Those interviews will be conducted by Laster, who also is presenting a “Five Artists, Five Mediums, Five Days” online exhibition of works selected from the fair.
“Inspired by the Aspen art community’s history of exhibiting art from diverse points of view in a variety of media, the curated exhibition for ‘One Thing’ presents work by emerging and established artists who draw from the past, are conscious of our present moment, and give hope for the future,” Laster said in an announcement.
Hoffman has been hosting Instagram Live events, including a “road show” on July 16 visiting all of the New York City galleries included in the fair for short socially distanced interviews, and an “Around the World in 24 Hours” event where she did video chats with all of the international galleries over the course of a day.
While Intersect Aspen plans to return to town for an in-person fair in 2021, Hoffman said it’s become clear to Hoffman that the virtual side of the fair is here to stay.
”This paves the way for a new experience of the fair,” she said, “in-person connecting to community and building the community, supporting local galleries and institutions, bringing in global galleries and creating room for dialogue.”
Intersect Art and Design announced it had acquired Art Aspen in April. The group’s portfolio of art fairs also includes major contemporary art fairs in Chicago and Palm Springs, now rebranded Intersect Chicago and Intersect Palm Springs. For an art fair that was planning to have a fresh start in 2020 anyway, Hoffman argued that the virtual year might help the former Art Aspen rebrand itself and set a new course.
“My goal is to start a new chapter and to start paving a way to the future,” Hoffman said. “We will build up the community virtually this year and in the future we will build up the community in person.”
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