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Arts & Culture

Curating The Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair

Marcela Quiroz Luna is the curatorial director of the Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair, which features 40 galleries in the 3-day art fair held in downtown San Diego.
Marcela Quiroz Luna is the curatorial director of the Art San Diego Contemporary Art Fair, which features 40 galleries in the 3-day art fair held in downtown San Diego.

Art San Diego, the contemporary art fair now in its second year, takes place this weekend at a new location (Hilton Bayfront), with a new name (it was Beyond the Border International Art Fair) and a new curator to help craft the vision and standards for the fair. Mexico City-based curator Marcela Quiroz Luna joined Art San Diego this year as curatorial director. Culture Lust conducted an email interview with Luna to find out how she approaches her work with the art fair.

What is your role as curatorial director of Art San Diego?

I could summarize my role in Art San Diego not that different from what a contemporary art curator tries to get together on every project: to create a rich and proposing conjunction of artists and artworks. In my point of view, an art fair should ideally convey not only an appealing display of saleable works but a solid individual curatorial agenda on each one of the booths by all participating galleries.


How do you decide which galleries get included in the fair?

Our aim is to get together an exciting array of both young and high-profile international galleries. With this in mind, we have selected some galleries and extended special invitations to them to be part of our featuring “Spotlight Artists” (ie. Peter Fetterman featuring Sebastiao Salgado, Michael Rosenthal featuring Amy Casey, Galería Enrique Guerrero featuring Manuel Cerda, Alfredo Ginocchio Gallery featuring Hugo Lugo, etal.).

All other galleries applied online and were submitted to a selection process headed by myself and our very esteemed Curatorial Committee (Deborah Klochko (MOPA), Lisa Dennison (Sothebys), Cecilia Fejardo-Hill (MOLAA) George Melrod (ART LTD) and Dale Lanzone (Malrborough Gallery).

Does your curation include a regional sensibility? In other words, do collectors expect to come here and see work that represents the southwest or South America? Do you use that as a tactic to lure collectors?

This year we have selected Mexico to be our invited Country on our PANORAMA program. We are presenting 7 Mexican galleries with a very strong array of artists: KBK / Enrique Guerrero / Ginocchio Gallery / Santiago Toca / Yautepec (all from Mexico City) / La Caja Galería (Tijuana, MX) / Pristine Gallery (Monterrey, MX). Thus, PANORAMA: MEXICO will bring together midcareer and young artists working in Mexico City such as Artemio and Daniela Edburg featured by Yautepec); Hernán Cedola —a very interesting Argentinean artist featured by KBK; Javier Peláez presented by TOCA/Galería, among others.


As for a "regional sensitivity," we will indeed have a very important presence of California art galleries (featuring from San Diego, La Jolla, Cardiff, Los Angeles, Santa Monica, Culver City, Laguna Beach, Mill Valley, Encinitas, San Francisco, Palo Alto). Though I should say this shouldn’t be read as if we were ‘containing us between our borders,' being one of ASD’s aim always to go Beyond the Border (as you will recall was its former name).

Besides, I don’t think we can still speak of regionalisms in this globalized world. The art arena is just more proof of this as will become palpable in the internationalization of galleries, artists and aesthetic proposals present in the fair.

Do you consider the balance of established galleries versus those representing emerging artists?

Yes. I think it is very important to convey professional and aesthetic dialogues between established galleries such as Sundaram Tagore (NY/HK/LA) and Scott White (SD) with younger galleries like 1500 (NY), Blythe Projects (Culver Sity), JAUS (Santa Monica).

I’m certain this intertwining provides a great opportunity for both - a very enriching set of circumstances not only for younger galleries to learn from ‘older’ ones, but the other way around as well. It is important to have this crossed-energy fields of experience flowing between highly recognized artists/galleries/gallery owners and the incoming generations.

A vibrant scenario that helps the public to form a criteria on quality and solidity of proposals regardless of ‘longevity.'

Why should the average San Diegan who is not a collector visit Art San Diego?

The opportunity to be in contact with an art work is definitely a self-forming experience. I strongly believe the best of all cultures and society materializes through art.

A big plus that art fairs offer compared to museums exhibits is the possibility to speak with the artists and learn more about the works by dialoguing directly with gallery owners. I think it is an excellent way for an incipient art enthusiast to initiate in the contemporary art scene.

Reason why this year Art San Diego has put together a “Boot Camp for Young Collectors” which promises to be sold-out. I like the impulse of what I call ‘cellular collecting’—meaning that we all can become collectors one way or the other, it is not exclusive to big check accounts.

It is very important to get yourself in there, open your mind and your senses and let yourself be thrilled by the art. Find young artists and support their careers by purchasing their work and you will be contributing in a very real way to the art process.

So, if you think you might be interested in seeing what contemporary art is about, visit Art San Diego and get in all additional activities and programming that will round up your learning and appreciation experience (Art Labs, Film program, Conversations, Conferences and, yes, some great parties!)

In your opinion, what makes a successful art fair? Is success measured only in the number of purchases by collectors and profit margins for galleries?

Success in art fairs is measured not only by sale figures—which is certainly one of the ‘hard’ parameters, but by attendance and community forming. If an art fair has the ability to insert itself as a vital part of the cultural agenda in the city/region which houses it, it most certainly can consider itself a valuable enterprise, even in down economies. Money isn’t everything; art might just be.