On the heels of last week's announcement that the Affair at the Jupiter Hotel art fair has been indefinitely canceled, the Jupiter Hotel co-owners Kelsey Bunker and Tod Breslau report that they are in discussions with local art-world figures, exploring options for mounting a new fair, unaffiliated with Affair co-directors Stuart Horodner and Laurel Gitlen.
Breslau says he and Bunker "loved the Affair, loved the energy it brought to the property and the city…We're committed to continuing that energy," he says. "We're not talking about keeping the Affair alive," Bunker adds. "We only have an interest in creating something far more fabulous."
The two are aiming to partner with Portland Art Dealers Association, the Portland Art Museum, local collectors, performance artists and others who can incorporate the city's music and culinary scenes into the context of a contemporary art fair. "This could be a setting where all the elements coalesce into something dynamic and passionate," Bunker says.
From 2004 to 2007, the Affair was a highlight of the city's visual arts calendar, despite a reputation for less than stellar sales. "I think the writing was on the wall...." Seattle gallery owner Greg Kucera, a regular Affair exhibitor, told WW. Last year, we mounted a really fine exhibition—and nothing happened. We sold exactly one object the entire time."
Local gallery owner and Affair alum Mark Woolley says it was poor planning for the Affair's organizers to have scheduled the '07 event during PICA's Time-Based Arts Festival, diverting the attention of art lovers. "Strategically, it was not a wise thing to do," he says. Horodner maintains that "feedback did not affect our decision at all. We achieved what we set out to achieve. We were not building a legacy."
News of the plan to create a new fair to take the Affair's place has buoyed the spirit of local artists. Painter and filmmaker Daniel Kaven, who exhibited in the 2004 Affair, says last month's closing of the Portland Art Center and the Affair's foundering constitute "a one-two punch to the city...I'm worried this is really going to spiral out of control, and it's because, ultimately, people in Portland are simply not willing to spend money on art."
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