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A Look Back At Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair And Art Labs

Above: Artist Jean Lowe's deceivingly lifelike "Six Packs" added a whimsical element to "Discount Barn." (Enamel on cardboard, wood, 2011).

The scene at Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair this past weekend at the Hilton Bayfront may have looked much like any other large-scale contemporary art fair with art enthusiasts wandering from booth to booth in serious consideration or simply sheer awe of large-scale paintings, sculptures and everything else in between. However, stumbling into Quint Contemporary Art’s booth probably bore a greater resemblance to a 7-11 than a conventional gallery space. This year, the notable La Jolla gallery mixed things up by transforming their fair booth space into “Discount Barn”: an installation by local artist Jean Lowe.

Jean Lowe's "Expect Miracles" price sign hung above supermarket-inspired works at "Discount Barn" (Enamel on cardboard, wood, 2011).
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Above: Jean Lowe's "Expect Miracles" price sign hung above supermarket-inspired works at "Discount Barn" (Enamel on cardboard, wood, 2011).

Mirroring the look of a 99-cent discount store, the installation became a fully operational artwork. Visitors could walk into what may have seemed like a simple 99-cent store and instead gaze in wonder at a variety of one-of-a-kind art pieces. Lowe created everything from stacks of Coors Light to cereal boxes to packaged cookies, all made from enamel and cardboard or ceramic. Visitors had the option of purchasing these handmade supermarket products which ranged from $99 glazed ceramic cups to a $7,000 painting. Jean Lowe and Quint Contemporary Art shook up the regular art fair model, creating a fun and interactive experience that took guests by surprise and left them smiling beyond the “Discount Barn” walls.

"Red Hot Specials..." a large-scale painting by Jean Lowe was on view at "Discount Barn" (Enamel on wood panel, 2011).
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Above: "Red Hot Specials..." a large-scale painting by Jean Lowe was on view at "Discount Barn" (Enamel on wood panel, 2011).

While we’re still waiting to hear back on the number of attendees at this year’s Art Fair, the much-buzzed Art Labs were a success, drawing over 5,550 attendees at various locales throughout the city. (In)visible and Space 4 Art Cubed were the most popular Art Labs. Luckily, both labs will be continuing into the future as (In)visible intends to become an ongoing project, going to schools and moving around the city, while Space 4 Art will host another open studio at some point soon.

Quint Contemporary Art Director Ben Strauss-Malcolm notes that in order for Art San Diego to have a greater presence next year, the quality of the galleries needs to be better. Doing so will not only pick up national attention, but will also draw serious collectors. He adds, it’s great that people are enthusiastic about having an Art Fair in San Diego, but it takes more than enthusiasm to create a financially profitable fair.

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