Photos by G. Various Artists.
I have never liked music festivals or art fairs. The pros are that you get to see a lot of great art in a very short amount of time. The cons are that after a certain point, it’s hard to remember what you’ve seen and what you haven’t seen. For those that like to stay home and sit on the couch most of the year, perhaps these types of events are for you because you only have to invest a few hours in the real world and you can then focus the bulk of your time in front of a bag of Cheetos, watching reality TV. As I go out nightly and experience the scene, I reconfirmed my distaste of fairs last night at the Fountain Art Fair. The event was at a much smaller (and cooler) locale in 2011 and has expanded dramatically for their 2012 offering. Unfortunately, I feel the event has perhaps already gotten too big for its britches as I nearly left the event before I even set foot inside (my email to the press office is below). UPDATE: The press office wrote back and that is also posted below.
Once I was inside the festival, I did find it to be less pretentious than its competitors at the Armory Show and Volta (each in separate locations in New York); however, at each of those events, an organized protocol is in place for press check in/event entry. Drink lines were almost as long as the length of the building and a centralized stage with live music in the center of the convention center made it nearly impossible to talk to vendors unless you waited to chat in between songs. It’s really unfortunate that like in life, those of us that love the indie scene fantasize about breaking away from the mainstream and the realities of the situation prove that at least the mainstream has a bit more organization.
Will the Fountain Art Fair organizers have gotten their act together for their remaining two days (March 10 and 11, 2012)? That’s anyone’s guess. Personally, I am beyond upset to have looked forward to this event via the tons of mass emails I’ve gotten throughout the year coupled with the great time I had last year, in spite of my typical dislike of art fairs. However, I empower myself and my readers that when you have been placed in a bad situation – USE YOUR VOICE to speak up otherwise, “they” win and “you” lose. The spirit of this fair is “do it yourself,” therefore, I am keeping my end of the bargain.
As my readers know from over 5,000 posts, I tend not to shed light on the negative and choose instead to not cover events and things that leave a bad taste in my mouth, because obviously I have no problems finding a wealth of A-list people and events to cover that are life changing (for the better) experiences, but I informed the press office that I would cover their event, so I will keep my word. I live by my own advice to SPEAK UP and in that spirit, I sent their office the following email, which you can read after the jump.
The Fountain Art Fair is located at 69th Regiment Armory 68 Lexington Avenue @ 25th Street from March 9 – March 11, 2012.
Hopefully if you go, you’ll have a better experience than I did.
Hi Press Office,
In spite of this email and MANY invitations for passes from my colleagues and event organizers, when I arrived at the fair yesterday, I was greeted by horrible security guards who REFUSED to let me through to the press line. I explained who I was, etc and was literally REFUSED to get though. Again, as I am very well known in the independent art scene, it did not take long for me to find someone I know who let me right in, but I want to bring this to your attention because frankly, I find it completely UNACCEPTABLE! As I will be one of the few sites covering this event, this unfortunate event will be one of the areas I focus on in my story. In the future if your event plans on being this disorganized, I’d rather save my time and not even go than have such a horrible experience like I did yesterday and I will be sure to tell my readers this information as well.
Around 5 pm on Saturday March 10 (which one would assume is one of the busiest times of the festival), I received a response from the press office. I’m not sure I feel more comforted with this generic response or if it would have been better to not receive any correspondence, especially since the reply doesn’t address any of my concerns and instead is a blanket apology. This leads me to believe this email is an insincere corporate response and cut and paste job that was probably sent to many more people than just myself. You decide! One thing I’ve decided – I will NEVER set foot at a Fountain Art Fair activity again. I’ll spend my time being treated professionally without having to ask for it! And readers, this is a choice you must make too. I can’t walk you through the door, I can only lead you to it.
I’m sorry to hear you had a frustrating experience at the entrance. We had strong turnout for the opening reception last night and as a grassroots indie fair, we have an extremely small staff which handled the crowds as best we could. As I’m sure you’re aware, this was our first night in the new venue and therefore our first time experiencing the logistics of the new space. We appreciate your understanding; its always our intention to provide an enjoyable time for Fountain visitors.