Celebrating its inaugural year, the Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary art fair, presented by Art Miami LLC and sponsored by the City of West Palm Beach, opened its doors on Thursday January 12th and continued through the 15th, and was immediately recognized as a leading international contemporary and modern art fair. Attendance of prestigious art collectors, connoisseurs, advisors and notable museum professionals surged through the weekend, while galleries reported significant sales of investment quality blue chip, contemporary and Post-War works.
City of West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio, PBM+C Founder and Owner Nick Korniloff and his wife Pamela Cohen, Art Miami LLC partners Mike Tansey and Brian Tyler, Christopher Roog – Director of Economic Development in WPB, and Andrew Aiken – President & CEO and Bridget Baratta – Chief Development Officer, at The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, opened the fair with a ceremonial ribbon cutting, while collectors, art connoisseurs and art world luminaries were greeted with champagne and a sampling of Chef Erik Petterson’s Italian menu from EVO upon arrival.
More than 17,500 attendees, including Tommy Hilfiger and NFL legend Joe Namath, admired work from nearly one-thousand artists presented by more than fifty international galleries throughout the four days. Six thousand guests attended the fair’s VIP preview, which was sponsored by Christie’s International Real Estate and benefitted The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, to which Mr. Korniloff presented with a check for $25,000 at the VIP opening on behalf of the Fair.
rowds flocked to the tent site to see important works on display from renowned artists such as Josef Albers, John Chamberlain, Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, with many dealers reporting sales within the first hour of the fair, including Cultural Council Spotlight Luncheon speaker artist Bernie Taupin, who placed three major works before 6pm during the VIP Preview through Waterhouse & Dodd.
Mrs. Audrey Gruss said, “The Palm Beach Modern + Contemporary fair has a wonderful energy and resonates with the excitement of finding young artists. I was drawn to the work of a young Japanese artist, Hidenori Tsumori from the Yufuku Gallery in Tokyo, and feel that it can hold its own among our collection of well-known modern and contemporary artists.”
The fair’s ownership team presented Mrs. Ruth Baum with a portrait of her and her husband Ted Baum by breakout visual and recording artist ABH (Al-Baseer Holly). The portrait was given as a sign of appreciation for their philanthropy to the arts, The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, and their continued support of the Art Miami group of fairs run by Mr. Korniloff. The commissioned portrait of the Baums introduced the “Portraits for Perry” project, where ABH will donate 50% of sales from commissioned portraits to the Perry J. Cohen Foundation (PJCF), who will use the proceeds to fund the “Perry J. Cohen Wetlands Laboratory at Jupiter Community High School.”
The special exhibition, ‘Francis Picabia Loan Exhibition Curated by Jeffrey Deitch,’ which featured premiere examples of works by Francis Picabia on loan from the collection of Jeff & Mei Sze Greene, proved to be one of the most popular.
Joe Namath was seen supporting his son-in-law and street artist Edwin Baker’s break out exhibition, “A Baker’s Dozen,” that was presented by Worth Avenue gallery Arcature Fine Art and benefitted the Perry J. Cohen Foundation.
Notable names seen at the fair across its four days included: Collectors Audrey and Martin Gruss, Joan Genser, Jeff Greene and his wife Mei Sze Greene, Ruth Baum, Stacey and Andrew Kroll, NHRA Champion and businessman Joe Amato and his wife Nicole Amato, Kara and Stephen Ross, artists Bruce Helander, Sophie Ryder, Bernie Taupin and his wife Heather Taupin, famed photographer Harry Benson and his wife Gigi Benson, and notable residents Dr. Lee Fox, Judge John Kastrenakes and wife Pia Kastrenakes, Bruce Beal, Paula and Paul Wittmann, Doris Browning, Diane Sculley, and Rena Blades – President and CEO of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County, Christine Aylward, Tom Schaeffer and Pamela O’Connor, Linda Benjamin, Cy Caine, Nick Catalano, Cathy and Dan Comerford, Dree Diamond, Barbara Donoff, Annette Friedland, Joyce Fromson, Regina and Rainer Greeven, Mai Hallingby, Candy Hamm, Eileen Judell, Anka Palitz, Rick Rose, Sara Simovich, Ashley Sosner, Sally Soter, Susie Staikos, Jacqueline Weld Drake and Lenny Lauren.
Prior to the VIP Opening, the PBM+C kicked-off with Spotlight Luncheon in 2017: Evolution of an Artist, on Tuesday, January 10th. Presented by the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County at the Kravis Center’s Cohen Pavilion, life-long creative Bernie Taupin discussed his career and evolution as an artist. A special selection of Mr. Taupin’s works were on exhibit and for sale, with a portion of the proceeds benefiting the Cultural Council and the Perry J. Cohen Foundation.
On Saturday, January 14th, the fair hosted the First Annual Professional Achievement in the Arts Award, an invitation-only cocktail event, honoring Bruce Helander. He has been a resident of Palm Beach County for the last 34 years, is a nationally recognized artist, curator and writer, a member of the Florida Artists Hall of Fame, and a former White House Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts. The presentation of this noteworthy acknowledgement coincided with Helander’s 70th birthday, and there was a special projects exhibition of his paintings and collages at the fair.
The fair also partnered with the historic Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, which served as a satellite venue and exclusive cultural partner for the fair, and commemorated the fair with a special exhibit of artist Sophie Ryder’s monumental and small-scale sculptures. The exhibition will continue through April 2017, courtesy of Waterhouse & Dodd.