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Fountain Celebrates 5 Years of Giving the Finger to Old Skool Art Fairs

The entrance area of this year's Fountain was curated by Dickchicken. (click to enlarge)

If Seven art fair has been getting some buzz because of their “original” approach to bypassing the art fair system and creating their own art fair of sorts, then you should know that Fountain Art Fair was the originator of the out-of-the-box approach to the art fair.

Begun by three galleries, McCaig-Welles, Leo Kesting, and The Front Room, this year marks the 5th Anniversary and I asked two of the founders what they thought about Fountain now that’s its half a decade old.

First John Leo of Leo Kesting, explained the origins, “We actually started back in 2006, it all began when we came down in 2005 just to check out all the art fairs. We saw that there was something missing. There was no good representation of young artists and there were very few fairs that were catering to small galleries that could not afford to drop $10 to 20,000 to participate … We did out first year in New York and then followed that quickly with Miami. The first year was three galleries now we’re at 25 galleries and projects. We’ve also incorporated live music to give it a festival feel.”

A work by Bedel Tiscareno at Francesca Arcilesi Fine Art of New York (click to enlarge)

While the fair was created to accommodate the art spaces, the collectors are also on board as they love the “down to earth” feel and that it is approachable. Last year, the Miami Fountain fair clocked in 5,000 visitors and this year they expect 6,000. The fair did over six figures in sales last year and that number is expected to grow.

Melissa McCaig-Welles, the founder of McCaig-Welles Gallery and one of the founders of Fountain, echo’d the same sentiment. “The overall feeling of the fair has been the same as the beginning … there’s so much energy and camaraderie. It helps out sales in that people are laid back about the art work and we can have a conversation about it,” she said. “When we first started it was a younger audience, but we’re starting to generate an older clientele who are interested in young, edgy artists.”

Unlike the other fairs, Fountain is also refreshing in that it appears to be a magnet for performance art — partly thanks to the participating of Bushwick’s Grace Exhibition Space — but also because of its younger and less commerical vibe.

If you’re in Miami tonight, check there’s a big party, which will include performances by indie noise rock band No Age, G. Love of G. Love and the Special Sauce, Ninjasonik, DJ Lauren Flax, DJ Kimyon, and a special DJ performance by Shepard Fairey.

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This painting, we’re assuming it’s by Gaia, graces the back of the kiosk at the entrance of Fountain.

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A view of Linchoy Lee’s “Soft Don’t Go” performance at Fountain yesterday.

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A wall piece by Ray Sell at Leo Kesting.

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Jill McDermid of Grace Exhibition Space is all smiles at Fountain.

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A view of the performance by Sisters Adina &Arielle Bier in the Grace Exhibition Space booth at Fountain. Their statement explains, “Sympton Neomatic is a durational performance and installation where AABier explore the systems and material consumption of the Artist Laboratory. Throughout the fair, the sisters will create and deconstruct their own means of production using kitsch-like objects, pop-culture references, and information saturation.”

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Brooklyn-based Front Room Gallery is one of the founding institutions of Fountain and had a strong presence at the fair.

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Trustocorp’s humorous signs were a highlight of the McCaig-Welles Gallery booth.

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Steven Gagnon offers an alternative reading to Shepard Fairey’s take on Obama’s 2008 US Presidential campaign.

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Greg Haberny doesn’t like to color within the lines.

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Bedel Tiscareno’s “Spirit of ’76” (2007) collides childhood action figures with Capodimonte kitsch.

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Some murals by Dick Chicken, who curated the outdoor murals, didn’t really measure up.

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Fountain Art Fair is located at 2505 North Miami Avenue at the corner of 25th Street Miami, Florida, and it will continue until Sunday, December 5, 2010. Check the website for times.

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