Forty international contemporary art galleries, from New York's Untitled to Madrid's Galería Álvaro Alcázar, are taking a chance on a new art fair. Silicon Valley Contemporary (Apr. 10-14), at the McEnery Convention Center in San Jose, Calif., is spearheaded by Rick Friedman, who has organized Art Aspen, Art Hamptons and the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair. Like those fairs, Silicon Valley Contemporary goes where the money is; nearby to Silicon Valley are areas of great affluence, fed by tech companies like Facebook, Adobe and HP.
"It's a Wild West frontier land," dealer Joel Mesler, of Untitled gallery, told A.i.A. by phone. "It's good to go to undiscovered places. I like the fact that it's brand new. There's no gallery infrastructure in the area."
Untitled is tailoring its offerings to a techie crowd, Mesler said. "We're bringing artists who deal with the internet either as the content of their work or as a distribution point," he told A.i.A., saying that Untitled will offer works by Mark Flood, Haley Mellin, Jon Rafman, Brad Troemel and Artie Vierkant. "The artists are excited about a tech-oriented audience," he said. "For example, Troemel uses bitcoins in his work. Out there, bitcoins are actually a part of the economy in a way they are not in New York."
Booth prices vary, dealers have told A.i.A., but are comparable to other boutique fairs, in the $15,000 range.
Douglas Chrismas of Ace Gallery (Los Angeles and Beverly Hills), told A.i.A. that his gallery has committed to a sizable space in hopes of finding clients not only among tech-oriented attendees but also from area winery owners.
Rather than pegging its offerings to the anticipated visitors, Ace is bringing a wide range of artists, from Roy Lichtenstein to the young L.A. duo the Date Farmers. "There are a lot of young people there, who like more vigorous, youthful art," he said. "But we'll also bring blue-chip items that will fit other sectors of the crowd."
Claudia Altman-Siegel, of San Francisco's Altman Siegel Gallery, is taking a cautious approach, she told A.i.A., bringing work that may be more accessible in terms of content and price range to visitors who are not that familiar with art. She won't necessarily be bringing works related to apps and motherboards.
"For me, it's an easy decision because I'm local. Every time we make an effort locally it pays off because it's easy to meet people who will then come to the gallery. I'm hoping there will be some sophisticated people there, and I know that a number of experienced collectors are planning to attend.
"But," she added, "it is an experiment."