The Sharmas jokingly call themselves “ambassadors” for the acquisition fund, happy to talk to anyone about what it has purchased and why, in order to generate critical dialogue among the city’s professional class. The acquisitions—seven pieces by six artists—were announced Thursday morning, and included an acrylic and mesh piece, Bread Winners
of Fridman Gallery in New York, two paintings by
, No. 73
(2017) and What will you do to help us Win?
(2017), from Turin’s Luce Gallery, and a sculpture, Levelland
of New York and London’s Skarstedt.
“We’re all people who can buy art, good art, and we can share that passion,” said Alex, who sees the cultivation of a substantial pipeline of up-and-coming collectors as critical to making Dallas’s art scene sustainable.
The fair plays an important role in helping develop that subset of collectors, both by bringing them in for a gander (many of the works have relatively accessible prices, with paintings and sculptures starting in the low four figures), and through the multiple satellite events that happen over the week and the entire month of April.
John Runyon, one of Dallas’s leading art advisers, said the strength of the city’s art scene was its continuity—between different generations of collectors, its galleries and the fair, the institutions, and even commercial venues such as Forty Five Ten, where he’d curated a
exhibit during the fair, or the Dallas Cowboys stadium, which features more than 20 works of contemporary art from the likes of Jenny Holzer and Doug Aitken. He’s a key part of that network too, helping recruit international and top-tier galleries to the fair, noting that some of his younger clients may not have the ability to travel as much as those who make the art fair circuit part of their lifestyle.
“There’s a whole strata of young collectors…who want an easy, comfortable buying experience in their hometown, he said. “It’s not always easy to go around all over the world when you’re trying to make a living.”
Frank Elbaz, the founder of the eponymous gallery
in Paris, said the presence of what he calls “middle-class collectors,”—the doctors, lawyers, and other well-paid professionals who enjoy art, visit galleries and collect works in the mid-five figure range—combined with the fair and its proximity to Houston and Austin, made the city an extremely attractive place for his first U.S. outpost.