“I’m in complete awe of the work that she has done,” said AMP director Kelly Freeman of Walker’s role in building up Atlanta’s national art presence. “I do what she does for a living and I’ve got a team of eight people behind me working with me full time to achieve what she’s been able to do.”
Freeman says that debuting Atlanta Art Fair was partly inspired by the excitement generated by Atlanta Art Week, as well as Atlanta’s clear potential for growth. “The South is very underserved in terms of art fairs,” said Freeman speaking by phone from New York City.
The 2024 Atlanta Art Fair will take place at Pullman Yards on the edge of Kirkwood and Edgewood, the location for rotating experiential events like Jurassic World:The Exhibition, Stranger Things: The Experience, The Queen’s Ball: A Bridgerton Experience and also the location for numerous UTA Artist Space Atlanta pop-up exhibitions before the gallery opened its Peachtree Street location.
In an art landscape as spread out as Atlanta’s, with galleries clustered in Buckhead, the West End, Decatur and Inman Park, Atlanta Art Fair will offer audiences the chance to visit gallery, museum and non-profit booths under one roof during the fair’s four day October 2024 run. Art fairs “provide a snapshot of current trends,” Freeman told the online site Artsy.
Atlanta Art Fair will primarily focus on what Freeman anticipates will be 60% local galleries and also include regional galleries with participation from New York galleries also expected. Freeman says AMP’s Seattle Art Fair and Art Market San Francisco average 15,000-20,000 attendees.
Respected Philadelphia-based curator Nato Thompson, who previously worked in Atlanta on a 2015 outdoor exhibition “Dream” staged by Flux Projects, will team up with Atlanta curators to drive all public programming at Atlanta Art Fair.
“We’ve watched as interest in Atlanta’s art scene has grown, and with Atlanta Art Fair, we are hoping to put the city’s creative community on an even bigger map,” said Thompson, who also notes “we are very much looking forward to engaging local voices to really capture the essence of the city’s art scene, which is why we feel it is essential to collaborate with Atlanta-based curators for their deep connections and understanding of the region.”
At the 2023 Seattle Art Fair Thompson curated an enormous suspended model of the solar system, “The Many Worlds,” created by Choctaw-Cherokee artist Jeffrey Gibson, the first indigenous artist to have a solo show at the 2024 Venice Biennale.
AMP’s involvement in the city will extend beyond the October fair dates to include newsletters, social media posts and other promotional endeavors and, potentially, more national exposure through the Artsy online marketplace platform, which has been a partner in other AMP fairs.
Atlanta Art Fair will be AMP’s first event in the South. It’s partnering with a previous collaborator, Atlanta-based brothers Tim and Dirk von Gal, owners of Intersect Art and Design, one event in their portfolio of trade shows, conventions and art fairs in Aspen, Colorado; Chicago; and Palm Springs, California. Tim von Gal has been working for over a decade in the art fair business and says he anticipates including popular features like collectors’ home tours and artist studio tours in the 2024 Atlanta Art Fair. The Roswell-based art collector sees the event as an opportunity to let “the international art world experience the energy and excitement of this community.”
He says he sees Atlanta Art Fair’s mission as “helping solidify Atlanta’s reputation as an international destination of the art community.”
Freeman says Tim von Gal’s longtime presence in Atlanta and knowledge of the regional landscape will insure this fair has a distinctly local character. “Homegrown” is how Freeman describes the flavor of her shows which are intended as being regionally-driven shows “built by a city for a city.”
Having a national art fair brand coming to Atlanta is one more step in building the city’s art economy. Art fairs are big business — the New York Times reported in April that art dealers generated 35% of their annual sales at art fairs in 2022. In pre-pandemic years, those percentages have been higher. “We always make a profit on every art fair that we do,” says Anna Walker Skillman, owner of Jackson Fine Art which participates in five annual fairs including Intersect Aspen.
There are more than 300 art fairs worldwide according to the New York Times. Previous AMP sponsors like Delta, JP Morgan, Godiva and 1stDibs have helped amplify and lend prestige to the company’s other fairs.
“We have seen our fairs have positive impact on local economies through our hiring of regional support to staff the event, hospitality revenue generated through visitors to the city and the fair’s affect on the surrounding art market,” said Freeman.
In preparation for launching the fair Freeman spent several weeks traveling between New York and Atlanta meeting area art world stakeholders from Spelman College, the High Museum of Art, Wolfgang Gallery and local commercial and nonprofit spaces to better understand the city’s arts landscape. Freeman has been at AMP for 10 years after studying art at Dartmouth College and in Christie’s Education program and after stints working in finance and at the New York contemporary art gallery PPOW.
Freeman points out that Atlanta Art Fair will be open to not just collectors, artists, curators and art enthusiasts but anyone who’d like to attend to learn more about Atlanta’s art scene. “This is an inclusive space where you can come and see what’s happening in your city and in your region. And have real access to the people who are shaping it,” said Freeman.