Washington’s City Paper describes the efforts of Alex Ventura and Victoria Milko to mount a rival art fair to the upcoming Rubell sponsored (e)merge art fair taking place in late September in Washington, DC:
Now the Rubells seems to be betting on D.C. as an emerging hub of contemporary art—but Ventura and Milko aren’t convinced they’re bringing the missing infrastructure they bemoaned.
“What we’re doing is already going on,” Ventura says, describing the setting for the But Is It Art? fair. “Southwest, a hotbed for artists? That’s just not true.” He says the Rubells engage in a practice of “art tourism” that might be good for the Capitol Skyline and their forthcoming hotel-cum-museum at the former Randall School property a few blocks away at 65 I St. SW, but has little connection to the city’s artists. “There’s a reason [the Rubells] own hotels. They’re not doing it pro-bono. It’s naïve to say they’re trying to help D.C. people out.” […]
Both Ventura and Milko acknowledge that the (e)merge fair helps them from a marketing angle. Ventura describes But Is It Art? as an unofficial “step-sister” fair; he knows artists applying for both (e)merge programming and anti-(e)merge programming. “Let’s be honest,” Ventura says. “It’s a great opportunity to steal their publicity.” […]
“These people have not contacted us,” [Leigh] Conner [one of (e)merge’s founders] says, “but I think it’s fantastic.” She says that (e)merge aims to be inclusive and to broadcast other arts events within the city, including, potentially, But Is It Art? “Casting things as mainstream versus alternative—I’m not sure those are the right terms. If like the Armory, if like Art Basel, if what (e)merge is doing is inspiring others, we’re happy that a satellite is happening.”
Fair Apparent: As the Massive (e)merge Art Fair Looms, Curators Plan a DIY Alternative (Washington City Paper)