Culture

Taking the Long View: Q&A with Alexis Hubshman of SCOPE Art Fairs

In The Past two decades, SCOPE International Contemporary Art Show has host­ed 75 art fairs in different cities of the world (though it’s now focused only on New York, Basel and Miami). Given that cumulative experience of nurturing and pro­moting emerging works in Contemporary art, the show enjoys a special insight into the fluctuations of the art market in the coming years.

Even as the fair continues to foster Contemporary art, it keeps adding newer dimensions to its fairs to make the creation and consumption of art ever more engaging and satisfying.

Ahead of the SCOPE Miami Beach’s 18th edition in a pavilion on the sands, running December 4 – 9, the fair founder and director Alexis Hubshman answered a few questions for Blouin Artinfo.

It’s been almost two decades since you held the first SCOPE fair in New York. How has SCOPE grown since then? And what are the biggest changes in the art market that you have seen in these 20 years?

Over the last 20 years, I’ve had a front row seat as the art world has transformed during the rise of the art fair. From a scrappy upstart to creative R&D, SCOPE has played many roles in this reconfiguration of the gatekeeper. But one constant has always underpinned our man­date — to level the playing field for the galleries, artists, curators and collectors that have supported SCOPE, and introducing new tal­ent to the world. It has been grati­fying to watch the evolution of an instinct and how we continue to inspire our base of collectors with creative cross-industry VIP pro­gramming and monumental spon­sorship activations. We embrace our role in systematically building up the galleries we showcase. By creating a first of its kind online booth management system where they can choose to build and curate all aspects of their partici­pation as well as broaden their social media exposure, we’ve supercharged their growth in a way traditional PR firms cannot provide. Much has come full circle in the 20 years since SCOPE start­ed as the original satellite art fair. Blue Chips dominate the market again while smaller galleries are once again struggling to survive, but I am proud that SCOPE remains a safe haven and an incubator for new voices to thrive and grow.

Since 2006, the fair has been focusing solely on the high-stakes markets of Miami, New York, and Basel. How different are the three venues in terms of what collectors want to buy? And how different are the SCOPE fairs in each of these venues?

Each city has its own personality, and SCOPE’s mandate of showing new talent attracts all collectors interested in what gems the emerg­ing art world has to offer. Miami Beach truly harmonizes with our sense of the spectacular and is the end of the year celebration of all the best galleries, curators, and institutions we work with through­out the year. Last year, SCOPE cel­ebrated a landmark year when it was honored by the City of Miami Beach Commission for the show’s achievements, in a bill sponsored by Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, and Commissioners Michael Gongora and Kristin Rose Gonzalez.

Our New York show has his­torically been a more intimate VIP preview, giving a peek of the year to come and allows us to show­case our unique take on what creative culture has to offer. SCOPE New York 2019 will be continuing the focus on its New Contemporary program, which will feature awards and travel grants for artists and galleries from around the world. SCOPE Basel is a perfect meeting place for galleries coming from all parts of Europe and Asia. Over the years, Basel has been an incubator of the Street Art and New Contemporary genres, consistently promoting and supporting artists working in the field through artist talks, panel discussions, screenings and performances.

Do you have any plans to host a SCOPE fair in Asia where a new market has emerged that runs on its own dynamics?

I have strong business connections in China and have looked at many options, but currently, the oppor­tunity for an elegant partnership has not aligned. That being said, I am however very interested in India and the Philippines and am currently working on a partner­ship by which SCOPE Miami 2019 will host many new galleries to the Olympics of the art world for the first time.

In a market that is crowded with fairs throughout the calendar year, how do you ensure SCOPE stands out and sustains itself?

SCOPE’s energy comes from its willingness to take a chance before others — this is the hallmark of a true visionary brand. This year we are celebrating our 18th anniversa­ry, and truly, we set the industry standard for the emerging art fair, being the model by which others have drawn. We were the first cul­tural art fair, and in many ways, also the original satellite fair. Even though today there are more satel­lite fairs then I can count, we’ve established a reputation as having a true passion for emerging art, and have managed to stick to our original mission of supporting new and emerging talent.

What are you most looking forward to in the upcoming edition of SCOPE Miami?

SCOPE Miami Beach is deepening its ties with the New Contemporary and Street Art genres by partnering with Hi-Fructose Magazine for its 14th year in publication. The publica­tion will be transforming the SCOPE tent with ambitious proj­ects featuring artists such as Okuda, Hot Tea, and AJ Fosik. Alongside exemplary VIP Programming, immersive Special Projects, compelling brand integra­tions, and a focused exhibitor pro­gram, we have an out of the park lineup for this year. In addition, we will also be welcoming a dynamic array of museum and cultural partners. These important art insti­tutions aim to highlight the aes­thetic value of the New Contemporary genre, and stand as a critical contribution to both global politics and local communi­ty engagement.

The Miami fairs are generally known to set the pace for art market and collecting trends for the New Year that follows. Could you forecast some vital trends in Contemporary art and the art market for 2019?

Especially in today’s cultural and political climate, artists are taking stock and reflecting on what’s going on in the world around them more than ever. Urban art and the New Contemporary as exemplified by this year’s SCOPE Miami spe­cial projects. In addition to our programming, we are excited to welcome Netherlands-based artist Hajar Benjida’s project “Young Thug as Paintings.” This project pays homage to the cultural capital of Jeffery Lamar Williams, better known as Young Thug, one of the most influential musical artistes of this generation, by juxtaposing him with some of history’s most revered works of art.

Apart from SCOPE, what’s your favorite fair and why?

If SCOPE had the fortune of mak­ing love to Art Basel, its love child might just be Frieze.

— The fair runs December 4 – 9 at Miami Beach Pavilion, 801 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach, Florida. For opening hours and other details, visit www.scope-art.com

This story appears in the December editions of Modern Painters and Blouin Artinfo Fair Newspaper


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