Since its founding in 2009, the Dallas Art Fair has established itself as the centerpiece of the city’s visual art scene. So much so, the city established April as “Dallas Arts Month” in 2015 with the fair as the nucleus of cultural events attracting visitors from around the world. After canceling in 2020 and rescheduling last year’s fair to the fall, less than six months ago, the question entering this year’s event is: Can the fair regain its pre-pandemic footing?
Touting a return to normalcy, the 2022 Dallas Art Fair and its related events take place April 20-24, with the main event April 22-24 at Fashion Industry Gallery. The fair brings back an expansive international roster of galleries, a collaboration with Aurora for a public video art event and its marquee closing-night party, The Eye Ball. And, of course, the Dallas Museum of Art will select a handful of works to put in its permanent collection thanks to the fair’s acquisition fund. In many ways, it will resemble pre-COVID fairs, and it will be a good place to take the temperature of the Dallas art world — to see what’s new and different post-pandemic.
The fair’s clearest development this year is its recruitment of galleries from Mexico, which fair director Kelly Cornell says is intentional. The fair hasn’t hosted a gallery from Mexico since 2016, when there was just one. This year’s fair features six, including exciting sculptural work from Alejandro Almanza Pereda, shown by Galería Curro.
“People from Dallas are visiting Mexico City and Guadalajara all the time,” Cornell says. “We wanted to foster these relationships so we could bring some of that art here.”
Some big international names are returning to the fair, including New York’s Kasmin Gallery and the international art hub Perrotin, both longtime fair attendees that were absent in 2021. Galerie Frank Elbaz will return this spring, but now solely as a Parisian gallery, having closed its Dallas location in 2021.
Meanwhile, notable local absences include Barry Whistler Gallery, which was slated to attend the canceled 2020 fair, and Liliana Bloch Gallery, which attended the 2021 fair but cited scheduling conflicts for this iteration. The recently resurrected Olivier François Galerie said it wasn’t invited to this year’s fair after attending in the fall.
Perhaps the most interesting story from this year’s fair will be two galleries that have long been out-of-town attendees and now call Dallas home. After becoming familiar with collectors and audiences thanks to the fair, New York gallery Keijsers Koning relocated to Dallas earlier this year. Just one week before the fair, beloved Los Angeles gallery Various Small Fires will open a new location in downtown Dallas.
Keijsers Koning will exhibit the work of three artists, including Kenyan artist Kaloki Nyamai, who will be exhibiting simultaneously at the Venice Biennale. Various Small Fires will showcase eight artists.
“The arts ecosystem is growing here,” Cornell says. “I think this year is further proof the city is becoming a major arts hub.”
Dallas Art Fair events kick off April 20 with a free gallery night in the Dallas Design District, with open hours at galleries from 6 to 8 p.m.; participants include Gallery 12.26, Erin Cluley Gallery and the Green Family Art Foundation, among others. For ticket prices and a full schedule of events, visit dallasartfair.com.