As Washington City Paper contributor Kriston Capps reported last month, it didn’t take long for the (e)merge Art Fair to inspire a rival art exposition in its inaugural year. Soon after (e)merge, um, emerged, artists Alex Ventura and Victoria Milko announced a response—the But Is It Art? Fair. (The inanity of the “But is it art” question is the point.)
But whereas (e)merge is big and flashy—its setting is the Capitol Skyline Hotel and its sponsors include brands like LivingSocial, Brightest Young Things, and Eric Hilton‘s restaurant group—But Is It Art? is a do-it-yourself endeavor. Talking to Capps in July, Ventura described his event as a “friendly ‘fuck you'” to remind the high-wattage (e)merge that “contemporary art doesn’t need that setting.”
Earlier today, (e)merge announced its lineup of artists and galleries that will populate the Capitol Skyline from Sept. 22 to 25. And though the new fair shares organizers with large-scale events in New York and Miami that draw arty types from around the world, (e)merge, at least in its first year, is pretty local. Fourteen of the 37 galleries and art spaces participating are based in the D.C. area, as are 17 of the individual artists.
The D.C. galleries showing at (e)merge include the Corcoran College of Art and Design, Flashpoint, Irvine Contemporary, and Transformer. Along with the locals, the fair also recruited nine galleries from Canada and Europe. The unrepresented artists include people like writer and performer Holly Bass, neon sculptor Craig Kraft, and conceptual artist Patrick McDonough.
Meanwhile, the lineup for But Is It Art?, in keeping with its DIY ethos, eschews the gallery approach in favor of a group of 25 individual artists, nearly all of whom are based around Washington and Baltimore. The fair, which will be held the same weekend as (e)merge at the Wonderbox art space at 79 Hanover Place NW, includes artists like poster-maker Aaron Lim, performance artist Jake Dibeler, and the Michigan-based sculptor Christina Osheim. (Washington City Paper advertising assistant Keli Anaya is also a participant.)
However, while (e)merge is counting the days until its opening, the scrappy, upstart But Is It Art? is still in fundraising mode. As of 5 p.m., it’s just over $700 shy of its $2,000 goal on Kickstarter.