Leigh Conner

D.C. and ArtSee Gear Up for (e)merge art fair, September 22nd-25th

September 6, 2011


As you’ve heard by now, Washington D.C. is looking forward to hosting the new (e)merge art fair this fall. A perfect city for such an event, D.C. is Capitol Skyline Hotel, www.emergeartfair.comburgeoning with a wealth of contemporary artists and a thriving cultural community. The organizers of (e)merge art fair recently revealed a roster of the 80 participating exhibitors and artists from 15 different countries, with a majority from the mid-Atlantic region. No one could be surprised with such an impressive line-up with co-creators Helen Allen (owner of Helen Allen Consulting and founder/former Director of PULSE Contemporary Art Fair), Leigh Conner and Jamie Smith (co-owners of Conner Contemporary Art Gallery) at the helm of this event.

As (e)merge approaches and our anticipation heightens, we had a few questions for Ms. Allen about how the idea for the fair came about and what exhibiting artists, collectors, and culture-hounds should expect.

ArtSee: When did you realize that DC needed a forum to showcase new/emerging artists?

ALLEN: DC has had a vibrant contemporary art community – albeit a smaller scaled one – for decades.  Leigh Conner, Jamie Smith, and I had been talking with one another about collaborating on a project that helped draw attention to all that the city has to offer in early 2010. Over the next several months, we worked out a plan to introduce innovative exhibition and educational programming within the familiar setting of a hotel art fair, and (e)merge was created. 

ArtSee: What was your primary goal in creating this event? 

ALLEN: To put DC on the map as a contemporary art and culture destination.

ArtSee: How do you believe (e)merge art fair will achieve these goals? 

ALLEN: We are achieving it already.  People are taking notice and asking ‘why DC?’ By asking the question it starts the dialogue.  Without that first vital step we can’t move on to the next one.  We have exhibitors participating from over 15 countries.  Collectors and interested visitors are coming into DC to explore the Fair and attend the events that (e)merge and our cultural partners are hosting.

ArtSee: Tell us a little something about the venue (the Rubell family’s Capitol Skyline Hotel); How do you feel it fits in accordance with the objectives for the fair?

ALLEN: (e)merge draws inspiration from the Gramercy International, the Ritz Hotel Project and the Times Square Show. What is wonderful about the Morris Lapidus designed Capitol Skyline is its modernist architecture, its expansive outdoor space (both front and pool deck) and the clear layout of the space.  Our exhibitors are taking over all corners of the first four floors – from the garage to the pool deck to banquet rooms to the restaurant to hotel rooms. The organic and fluid layout encourages discovery and creates a more relaxed and engaged atmosphere.

ArtSee: What should artists who are exhibiting their work for the first time in such impressive atmosphere expect in terms of exposure?

ALLEN: It is going to be a great chance for artists in the gallery and artists platforms to get their work in front of a fresh/new/larger audience of curators, collectors, colleagues and urban explorers.

ArtSee: What are you most looking forward to about this fair?

ALLEN: The atmosphere – the energy that the show is generating and the camaraderie among the DC galleries, nonprofits and institutions is contagious.  I am looking forward to seeing the work installed, watching the performances and listening in on the star line up panel discussions that we are hosting.

ArtSee: What major differences can visitors expect from (e)merge art fair as opposed to other art fairs?

ALLEN: The primary difference is that emerge presents two platforms – one for galleries and one for unrepresented artists.  Both sections were vetted by art world luminaries – but (e)merge is not charging the unrepresented artists to present their work.


We are so excited for (e)merge as it will be a fantastic opportunity to discover exciting new artists and their work both in the DC art community and around the world. ArtSee founder Elizabeth Grazioli will be on the scene all weekend volunteering with guest services; please feel free to seek her out if you have any questions about (e)merge or ArtSee artist promotional services!


Bringing the Art in DC to You,

Kendall E. Willey