The Artist Project 2013: Exclusive Director’s Take

Seowon Bang (S.B) interviewed Claire Taylor (C.T), director of The Artist Project (TAP) on February 22, 2013

Toronto’s indie darling art fair showcasing talents by emerging and independent artists is back for the sixth year with a buzz, on view at Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place, through to Sunday, 24 February.

Photo: Fox Martindale

This year, The Artist Project is produced by Informa, who purchased MMPI (an international mega production company presenting well-known art fairs) in July 2012. When asked if the change of hands has impacted the production of the fair in any way, show director Claire Taylor assures it has not: “Informa has a similar mandate to MMPI and that is to put on an interesting and dynamic fair each year.” The fair opened last night with one of the best art parties of the year – it was a great chance to preview the art as well as enjoy cocktails, treats, DJs and meet the exhibiting artists while supporting the Canadian Art Foundation. Taking the helm of The Artist Project for the third time, Ms. Taylor provides an exclusive director’s outlook of the fair: what to look out for this year, the challenges and rewards of the fair, and why The Artist Project is the art fair to visit.

TAP director Claire Taylor. Photo: Alice Tallman

S.B: What are some of the noteworthy new features and/or programming of this year’s TAP? What sets it apart from last year’s, or other art fairs?

C.T: The Artist Competition is one of the most popular features at the show. We invited all exhibitors in the show to submit one work in the 2013 themes of “FACES” and we expect this to really showcase amazing talent. Another popular feature that always draws a lot of attention is the work of the UNTAPPED Emerging Artists – these are the emerging artists that participate in the fair for free and really showcases some cutting-edge work! We have re-launched the Video ArtBox as we feel it’s important to feature the work of artists working in digital media and video. Completely new this year, we are offering the “Uptown/Downtown Hotel Art Tour” where our tour visitors can get an exclusive look inside the private art collections of the Shangri-La Hotel, Toronto and The Hazelton Hotel, and view their wide variety of works including paintings, sculpture, photographs and more.

The Faces Competition. Photo: Fox Martindale

Marian Wihak, Four Seasons, 2012, still on single channel video installation

S.B: This is your third year of directing TAP. What are the challenges (and/or rewards) of running an art fair based solely on emerging artists, if any?

C.T: One of the challenges is to create an exciting space that is both fun and welcoming to visitors. We feel it is very important for people to have the opportunity to meet and purchase work directly from Canadian and international artists, and we want to promote that dialogue between visitors and artists. The rewards are seeing visitors enjoying this experience and being inspired by artists. Another reward for the show is building this wonderful platform that helps support artists and their careers.

S.B: TAP gives great exposure to emerging artists. Are there any artists that have gone on to be critically recognized thanks to TAP? (“Success Stories,” if you will.)

C.T: We’ve had several artists from the UNTAPPED artists that have gone on and been finalists in the RBC Painting Competition, and the majority of the artists meet gallery dealers and art advisors which also encourages new opportunities! We love being invited to their group and solo shows that follow after The Artist Project!

Untapped artist Ivan Alifan, Obedient Wife, 2012, 60 x 48 inches

Untapped artist Jane Duncan, Trophy Lovers, Pillowtalk, 2012, 30 x 30 inches

 S.B: Who is on the jury, and what is the one tipping point that grants yay or nay to an artist’s submission? What makes it the TAP material?

C.T: Every year we hire different jurors from the arts community in order to make sure that the applicants always have a fair process with fresh eyes. This past year we had Megan Oldfield (OCAD professor), Alison Milne (gallery dealer) and Robyn McCallum (TD art advisor). TAP material is art that has a creative edge! The most important is that the artists apply with great images that show off their talent.

S.B: If you had to choose a must-visit booth this year, what would it be?

C.T: The UNTAPPED feature is a must-see, as well as the large-scale installations! We also have artists traveling a long distance to get here – artists from Israel, Spain and Argentina!

Nissim Ben Aderet, Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo: Phil Anderson

The Artist Project is on view at the Better Living Centre, Exhibition Place, through to Sunday, 24 February.

Seowon Bang




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