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(e)merge, a new contemporary art fair in DC

Isabelle SpicerBy Isabelle Spicer on Dec 16, 2010 | Add a Comment Add a Comment (66)

(e)merge, a new contemporary art fair in DC

Leigh Conner and Jamie Smith at Pulse Miami. Photo I. Spicer

Leigh Conner and Jamie Smith at Pulse Miami. Photo I. Spicer

The Rubell Family at the Rubell Family Collection. Photo I. Spicer

The Rubell Family at the Rubell Family Collection. Photo I. Spicer


With all the buzz around censorship at the National Portrait Gallery, you might have missed this piece of very important news: Washington will soon have its contemporary art fair, called (e)merge, created by Helen Allen (founder and former director of the Pulse Contemporary Art Fair), Leigh Conner and Jamie Smith (co-founders of Conner Contemporary Art gallery). The fair will be hosted by the Rubell family at the Capitol Skyline Hotel.

The fair will feature emerging artists and the cost of the exhibited works is expected to fall within a modest range, with an estimated average of $ 3,000.

While in Miami, I interviewed Mera Rubell at the Rubell Family Collection, and Jamie Smith at PULSE art fair, to learn more about this exciting project.

Mera Rubell : “An inspired idea to showcase the young artists working in DC”

Isabelle Spicer : There will be a new contemporary art fair in Washington DC, to be hosted at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. Could you tell me more about it?

Mera Rubell : I have to give credit to Leigh Conner and Jamie Smith of Conner Contemporary Gallery. It is their inspiration to do this art fair. They have been there a long time, and it is so frustrating to be in the capital of United States, famous for its magnificent cultural institutions, but actually the whole young art scene, that is so big in Washington, DC, is invisible to some extent to the world. I felt that too. It was an inspired idea to see how we can showcase young artists working in DC. So our hotel, The Capitol Skyline Hotel, which was designed by Morris Lapidus in the 1960’s, will host the fair. It’s the original hotel and it has a very good vibe, a big Olympic pool and a social space. Morris was a genius at creating social spaces. We are going to create this really fun hotel art fair that will introduce people to the young in Washington, DC. They already know about the famous, in the Hirshhorn and other institutions. They come to DC, they see that and think that there is nothing else. But Washington is a very exciting place; we are delighted to be part of this project.

Jamie Smith : “We need a new platform to help emerging artists start their career.”

Isabelle Spicer : What is the origin of this fair?

Jamie Smith : It all started with the annual Academy exhibition, for MFA and BFA graduates in the Washington and Baltimore area. There are so many fantastic art schools in this region. We have learned from the past ten years of showing over 200 emerging artists that a new platform was needed to help them start their career. Their options are very limited, even though some galleries in DC and non profit organizations show emerging artists. More opportunities are needed, particularly for international exchange. That is what we are trying to do, to attract vibrant international galleries, curators, collectors and artists who are all interested in new and emerging art.

IS : The Rubell are going to host the new fair. Does that mean that Washington is going to be the new Miami?

Jamie Smith : Washington is a new center for contemporary art. It is different from Miami and has its own distinctive personality and flavor. We are thrilled to have the support of the Rubell family, and everyone in DC is excited about the construction of their new museum right across the street from their hotel.

IS : How is the fair going to be organized? Who will exhibit : Artists or Galleries?

Jamie Smith : There will be multiple platforms. There will be free exhibitions spaces for a number of unrepresented artists that will be vetted by a committee of art professionals. Additionally, there will be approximately 50 galleries who exhibits and support emerging artists and a number of non-profit organizations as well. (e)merge will have a strong cultural component including educational programming with panel discussions, lectures, tours, and all kinds of fun performances and events as well.

(e)merge – Washington, DC – September 22nd to 25th 201

Isabelle Spicer for Délit d’initié


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