The Fair brings a lo-fi take on art to the Waldorf Hotel

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      Basel has its Art Basel fair; Venice has its Biennale. Now Vancouver has the Fair, a decidedly “lo-fi” take on the international art-fair event, as curator Lucas Soi describes it.

      Soi, a local artist, has gathered together 18 galleries from the nonprofit, commercial, indie, and institutional realms to exhibit at the Waldorf Hotel, the historic East Vancouver spot that’s reinvented itself as an arts hub. There are nine Vancouver galleries taking part, including 304 Days, Access Gallery, Black & Yellow Gallery, the Or Gallery, Les Gallery, Unit/Pitt Projects, VIVO, the Western Front, and Fillip. Toronto’s Butcher Gallery and Hunter and Cook are both participating, as are Motto Books from Berlin and Zurich; Victoria’s Deluge Contemporary Art; Seattle’s Lawrimore Project, Season, and Hedreen Gallery; Munich’s Goethe-Institut; and Mexico City’s Preteen Gallery.

      “Everybody has a room, and the room stays furnished,” explains Soi by phone. “Basically, they have a queen- or king-sized bed, they have a small desk, they have a flat-screen TV on the wall. We left all that. We said, ”˜Come into the room and do what you will.’ The simplest way is to have artwork laid out on the bed and hang some frames on the wall, but other galleries are bringing in projectors and changing out the light bulbs, and doing a site-specific installation using the furniture and amenities in the room, but tweaking it.”

      Ten rooms in the hotel have been taken over by participating galleries, with more exhibitors showing work in the Hideaway bar, or doing projections outside.

      “This art fair really is a show of strength, and a show of unity, and showing that we’re all in the same business, we’re all doing the same thing, and we all want to work together,” says Soi, who hopes this event is just the first of many. “It’s fun for all the local guys to be involved because everybody’s so separated in the day-to-day running of things. This is a way for them to all come together and work together side-by-side for a whole weekend. I feel like The Fair is a really unique chance to educate the public about these different ideas of what contemporary art is in 2011.”

      The Fair runs Thursday to Sunday (June 2 to 5) at the Waldorf Hotel (1489 East Hastings Street).