PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Houston September 2020

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Page 33 of 99

SILVER LININGS: HERE COMES CULTURE PLACE W h e n D a l l a s Art Fair director K e l l y Cornell emailed at press time, it was with a decision that can only be summed up as sage. As Texas continues to lead the nightly news as a coronavirus hot spot, the wisdom of going ahead with a multi-day, multi- C AT H E R I N E D . A N S P O N R E P O RT S . A NEW ART-COMMERCE SITE RISES FROM THE DALLAS ART FAIR venue cultural happening that draws a throng of nearly 20,000 from diverse cities, countries, and continents was questionable. The 2020 Dallas Art Fair, originally postponed from the spring to October, is slated for eight months from now, scheduled for April 15 through April 18, 2021. It's once again returning to its long-time venue, Fashion Industry Gallery, in the heart of downtown Dallas' arts district. However, there's a silver lining here — one that benefi ts the hometown team. Dallas dealers and fellow Texas exhibitors are fl ocking to a promising new website developed by Dallas Art Fair to reach its collector audience and produce sales, all in a virtual space. Cue Culture Place, which debuted in early July. This is Dallas Art Fair's salvo to the big-box e-commerce sites of Artsy and Artnet. This shining digital initiative promises to be open-ended and transformative, providing a lift for a group of galleries that Dallas Art Fair has cultivated and valued, and presented on an equal playing fi eld alongside global brands such as Perrotin, Lehmann Maupin, and Gagosian (the latter famously participated in the 2017 edition of DAF). Now with the physical fair postponed until April 2021, Culture Place's team, led by Dallas Art Fair co-founder John Sughrue and fair director Kelly Cornell, are challenged to create a commercial paradigm that works for the inaugural 18 Texas dealers — stalwart Dallas Art Fair exhibitors — who eagerly signed up for Culture Place once it was announced. The art fair's pre-Culture Place digital tryout, this spring's online selling platform of the fair, was an unexpected hit, producing $3 million in sales, including a $700,000 Alice Neel acquisition, which sparked Sughrue to think in the direction of creating an e-commerce opportunity spun around the mission of supporting Texas dealers. Sughrue says, "We think 15 to 25 gallerists really make Culture Place tick and we will be constantly tweaking if not overhauling the site to ensure its relevancy. What's working online as a sweet spot is a price range of $50,000 and below, albeit we are seeing more and more six- and seven-fi gure digital sales as the digital market accelerates … The Dallas Art Fair's strong curatorial voice is respected by collectors locally and internationally. The past 12 years have been all about cultivating established collectors while educating and nurturing aspiring collectors. It's the right mix for one of the fastest growing contemporary art markets — namely, Texas and the Southwest." The newly launched, Texas-focused model is rich with programming while 32 (Continued on page 35) Butch Anthony's Let's Play Ball, 2020, at Dark Dirty Place

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