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Are the Art Market’s Next Great Caretakers Working in Silicon Valley?

Art Miami director Nick Korniloff lures the tech set with its first West Coast fair, Art Silicon Valley/San Francisco.

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Nearly a century and a half after Horace Greeley exhorted, “Go West, young man,” the young and ambitious are still heeding his advice. But how should tech boomers enjoy the spoils of their success once they’ve purchased a home (or two) and a car and given back to their alma maters? The art world thinks it has the answer.

In April, New York’s Pace Gallery opened a temporary space in Menlo Park (where Facebook has its headquarters) and Silicon Valley Contemporary, held in San Jose, became the region’s first major art fair. Then last month, Sotheby’s hosted its first pop-up show in Palo Alto while Christie’s opted to do the same in Los Altos.

Now, Art Miami is next with Art Silicon Valley/San Francisco (October 9–12; San Mateo County Event Center, 1346 Saratoga Dr.;—its first West Coast outpost after Art Wynwood, Art Southampton, Downtown Fair, Context, Aqua and Art Miami.

With 70 international galleries and five art institutions showcasing over 750 artists from 42 countries, Art Silicon Valley/San Francisco focuses on what the fair’s founder and director, Nick Korniloff, calls “investment-quality works.” And while you can expect to see Warhols, Lichtensteins and other 20th-century greats, this particular garrison hopes to tempt the Silicon Set with new media art, emerging artists and interactive pieces.

Here, Korniloff answers five questions about Art Miami’s own westward expansion.

Why choose the Silicon Valley area for the fair’s first West Coast outpost?
Coming to the Bay Area lets us spread our wings and enables our exhibitors to service the local seasoned collectors, curators and institutions, while also connecting with a group of newer collectors from one of the most creative and inspired regions in the world—Silicon Valley. These individuals will, in my opinion, become the next great caretakers, ambassadors, philanthropists and collectors of the art market.

Is there a curatorial theme or thread to this particular fair?
We really wanted to reach out to the younger generation of technology professionals, venture capitalists and new families that live in the region. We have integrated a strong street art program with a special exhibition of Banksy works from his famed 2013 one-month New York Residency program. Large-scale wall reliefs weighing over a ton will be on exhibit along with other mixed-media treats he created. In addition, we have other local and international galleries that will exhibit the work of top street artists like Shepard Fairey, Stinkfish, Stephen Tompkins, Erro, Apex, Mr., Brainwash, Speedy Graphitio, Jon One and many others. The fair will also have exceptional photography.

Tell us more about the tech-focused works that will be exhibited.
We feel that these artists’ works will attract the techy groups that everyone wants to coddle and turn into art collectors. The ability to bridge the gap of communication that exists through the tech/new media artwork on display is important to gain traction and create dialogue with this group. For this inaugural edition, we have special installations by a select group of 30 technology and new media artists from the Leader in Software and Art Foundation (LISA) in N.Y.C .who are using the hardware and software created in Silicon Valley in the creation of their works. These artists have representation through participating galleries in the show and will be on exhibit for acquisition next to some of the most collected and respected artists from both the 20th and 21st centuries.

There’s been a lot of chafing lately between Silicon Valley employees and San Francisco locals. How do you expect the art fair to be received?
We can’t ignore the current situation, nor can we change it. I feel comfortable in saying that we have been embraced for the risk we are taking and that the fair is being created to bring all types of people together, not just one specific group. We are not carpetbaggers looking to profit and leave—everything we do is with a long-term strategy in mind, including giving back to the community and providing new opportunities at many different levels.

What do you think it will mean to Silicon Valley?
The fair is a calling, in a way, to the entire Bay Area. We are building it for this community because we believe this region has changed the world in a way that will translate to the art market positively. The abundance of money is obvious—what interests me is the mentality of the region. A purpose and a cause is what drives Silicon Valley—it’s not purely the money that can be achieved.

When you look at the evolution and the boom of the contemporary art market, you will see that it exploded side-by-side with the technology boom. History tends to repeat itself—think of what the titans of industry did for the art world in the past. It’s now up to today’s titans to leave their cultural footprint on the rest of us.


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