In the international list of well-known art fairs and festivals, there are the Whitney, Venice, and Sao Paolo biennials, Art Basel Miami, the L.A. Art Fair, and : Santa Barbara? This is the ambitious goal of the creators of the Rumble Art Fair, a new contemporary art festival running January 22 through February 1.
While art fairs typically accept only galleries that are willing to pay a fee, Rumble is organized more like an arts festival; featured artists were chosen in a curatorial process by a group of regional art aficionados including philanthropist and art dealer Morris “Moishe” Squire. As the financial backer of the art fair-he’s also a participant in the exhibition-Squire enlisted artists and Santa Barbara natives Clinton K. Hollister, Sean Anderson, and Ashley Woods to help produce Rumble and select a group of established contemporary artists whose work represents international art efforts. “As Santa Barbara locals,” Woods said, “we feel as though our city has such great talent and appreciation for the arts. We wanted to expand its artistic boundaries to include contemporary, global work.”
The Rumble team members are all young adults with connections to the world of visual art; Woods works with Squire at his gallery in Santa Barbara, while Anderson and Hollister are practicing artists. All three wanted to differentiate Rumble from other art fairs by making it an “Artist to Artist” event-that is, for artists by artists. Woods explained, “We are collectively working to show that the young adults of tomorrow are willing and able to do whatever it takes to get our voice heard.” By eliminating the fee ordinarily required to participate in a traditional fair, the organizers were able to handpick a selection of more than 25 artworks that represent a spectrum of art practices, including painting, photography, design, film, sculpture, installation works, and digital multimedia-from around the world. And, while the fair boasts a dynamic lineup by artists from as distant as Macedonia, New York, and Argentina, lead curator Anderson has included a large portion of regional artists to facilitate discourse in the contemporary arts.
It is in this way that Anderson intends to create a “rumble” within the Santa Barbara art community. In addition to the art exhibition, Rumble will feature a selection of music, performance art, and artist lecture events. The fair’s dates also strategically coincide with the Santa Barbara International Film Festival-although it is not officially affiliated-in hopes that Rumble will share SBIFF’s independent spirit and growing success over the years. “We hope to exhibit other artistic forms, from paintings to live performances, for Santa Barbara to experience and enjoy,” explained Woods.
Highlights of the fair include Igor Josifov, a Macedonian performance artist who uses his body to comment on such issues as identity, death, and loss, and Zachary Kitnick, a Brooklyn-based artist who engages in public spaces to rework found images and objects into art. Rumble also includes painter Benjamin Anderson, a classically trained artist who has shown work internationally, and whose commissions and portraits have been widely recognized and acclaimed.
With an impressive roster of artists-all of whose works are also for sale-Rumble has the potential to help change the face of Santa Barbara as a cultural and visual art destination. Like other festivals that celebrate our city’s cultural pulse, including the biennial, month-long Off-Axis Festival featuring resident arts, Rumble seeks to reflect larger trends and themes in the international art world through a local lens. Whether it succeeds in grabbing the attention of our community as a cultural tour de force is yet to be seen, but the inspired effort behind its inception is a small start to what may just become the next big thing.
The Rumble Art Fair kicks off January 22 and runs through February 1 at 322 State St. For more information, check out rumbleartfair.com.