The Art Assassin 2

a nonfiction novel by Albert Wang, or a portrait of the artist as a young failure…

ASSASSINATION: Ann Berchtold, Executive Director of Beyond the Border Art Fair, Gallery Director of Beyond the Border Gallery and L Street Fine Art, and Curator of SanDiegoArtist.com

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Photograph of Ann Berchtold. Courtesy of Facebook.
Official logo for the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair at San Diego, California. Courtesy of Beyond the Border Art, INC.

Ann Berchtold is a woman of many hats in the contemporary art world, particularly focused on San Diego as a new art venue complementing Miami. Currently her most ambitious project is presenting the inaugural Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair as its executive director. This newly minted art fair will occur during the first week of September in the San Diego and will present both emerging and established artists to a West Coast audience. The most exciting aspect is that Berchtold has presented a new venue for galleries and artists to enter a new collector’s market even during a period when the recession has cut down on spending for visual art.

Berchtold has been the director of Beyond the Border Gallery which was featured in Booth #12 at Aqua Wynwood during December 3 to 7, 2008 and introduced Miami to the wonderful world of six major contemporary Tijuana artists. Also she has been the gallery director at L Street Fine Art located across the Omni San Diego Hotel in downtown San Diego. The San Diego Art Prize, which provides recognition to the best established and emerging visual artists from the San Diego area, has enhanced the city’s reputation as a burgeoning cradle of contemporary art which has become integral to the cultural programming. Berchtold’s experience in the catering industry has helped her maintain a strong vision for boosting San Diego as the next big venue for contemporary art that defines the trends for a generation. Working around the clock, the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair looks to be one of the finest art fairs which presents artwork that stimulates the imagination and goes beyond the norms of commercial art to celebrate the personal meaning of art within our lives. Example galleries such as Julie Nester Gallery; La Refaccionaria, Galeria; Zen Gallery; and Charlie James Gallery have come from all over the world to share a collective vision for all types of contemporary art within this new setting.

If you have any questions about the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair, feel free to contact Ann Berchtold at aberchtold@beyondtheborder-art.com or info@beyondtheborder-art.com. If you have any questions about the artwork featured at the Beyond the Border Gallery, please contact Berchtold at director@lstreetfineart.com or at (858) 254-3031. If you have any questions about the artwork featured at L Street Fine Art, please contact the director at director@lstreetfineart.com or at (619) 645-6593.

And now here are THE ART ASSASSIN’s unveiled details of the “assassination”:

qi peng: To start off on a lighter note, what are some of your favorite artists, books, television shows, sports, art magazines, toys, movies, and other cultural artifacts that you wish to share with your fans of your galleries, L Street Gallery and Beyond the Border Gallery here? Do you have any other recent galleries or exhibitions apart from yours that you have seen and would to recommend to us?

Ann Berchtold: Favorite Artists – too many to nail down / Books: Fountainhead/Atlas Shrugged/Anna Karenina / ArthurAnais Nin / D.H. Lawrence.  TV Shows: MAD MEN / In Treatment. Sports: Beach Volleyball / Cycling / Running. Art Magazines:  Art LTD / Art in America / ArtNexus / The Art Newspaper.  Movies: Sliding Doors / Swingers / Taxi Driver / Fargo .  ART Exhibitions – I like interactive shows – with an experiential twist.  That is why I am drawn to Art Fairs – anything goes.

qi peng: What is the story for the origins and exhibition history for the two spaces you worked with, L Street Gallery and Beyond the Border Gallery? What was the experience having the L Street Gallery at The Omni Hotel? Also what was it like featuring Tijuana artists who were established such as Raul Guerrero in both San Diego and the Aqua Wynwood section of the 2008 Aqua Art Miami art fair? What is the art scene in San Diego like and how does it compare to that of Los Angeles and San Francisco?

Ann Berchtold: These Initiatives started with launching a website called : SanDiegoArtist.com — which promoted the work of local emerging artists. Launching the San Diego Art Prize – which provided nominated emerging and establishing artists a cash grant and exhibition opportunity. Acting as Gallery Director for two galleries and representing several artists from San Diego and Tijuana. In addition, I was deeply interested in creating more “Art” opportunities in elementary schools so I founded a program called “Inspire” which brought local artists into the classrooms to discuss with students what Inspired them to become and artist and what Master Artist did they most identify with.

I love working in San Diego because it still has a small pond feeling – but is on the cusp of becoming a big pond.  As a destination to stage a major West Coast fair—it has a lot of similar characteristics to Miami Beach: coastal/growing and a close proximity to Latin America.  I call it the mid-point of the Pacific Rim art explosion.

qi peng: Are there any restaurants or hangouts such as bookstores around San Diego, where you work at now or anywhere else like New York or Los Angeles that you wish to recommend us? What are the qualities that you enjoy best about the places that you have chosen?

Ann Berchtold: [no answer]

qi peng: How do you feel that the current economic recession impacted the contemporary art market and way that it functions in the larger national economy? Do you feel that artists will be pursuing more personal and intimate projects than the overly commercial work, typically geared for the art fairs, during the upcoming years?

Ann Berchtold: I could use myself as an example to answer this question – I had some liquid funds that I did not want to put into the stock market – so I bought a fantastic (and at a great price) piece of artwork by Tania Candiani that I absolutely love.  Each day I look at it and it brings me great joy.  Much more so than if I had dumped that money into a stock certificate.

Art will always be a great investment if purchased with joy and passion.

qi peng: As the current director of the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair, why do you think that this is a viable time to open up a new market of San Diego to collectors who are headed typically to Miami in December and have a new art fair on the West Coast designed for emerging artists? How will this art fair compare to the other art fairs on the West Coast such as ART LA and photo la which focus more on blue-chip works?

Ann Berchtold: My interest in launching the first Contemporary Art Fair in San Diego came from attending an Art Fair in Miami Beach – Art Basel. What is now the largest art fair in the US and brings in over 500 million dollars over 6 days to the community of South Miami Beach. I was struck with how similar Miami (five years back) and San Diego (today) were – coastal young cities that had not found a strong cultural identity.

I  wanted to bring this to San Diego and test this event out on the West Coast.  I believe we are the best destination on the West Coast to stage this.  I would love to partner with other fairs eventually so that we continue to make this a strong collaboration.

We look at this first year as somewhat of a pilot program to set the stage for future growth.  Even in this economy we have found opportunity.  It is hard to predict how art sales will be – however we have made it extremely affordable for our galleries to participate this year and have given them a lot of support.

We are also creating an event where hopefully everyone feels like a VIP throughout the entire 2.5 days.  Many events you have to be an insider to get many of the perks – I wanted all who are attending to get all the same perks.  It does limit the capacity a bit – but I think the experience will be better.

qi peng: What is the story of how the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair developed into this exciting adventures for galleries, such as Charlie James Gallery, who are new to the scene of art fairs? Originally this art fair was to occur at the downtown Omni Hotel and Exhibition Center in the fall of 2008 before the switch in venue to the resort hotel, The Grand Del Mar, in the fall of 2009. What accounted for waiting for the fair to start in 2009 and the change in venue? Does the resort setting parallel any of the venues out there in Miami? Also what was it like to collaborate with Julie Schraeger who is the director of development and Joshua Weinberg, who also works for the Aqua Art Miami team?

Ann Berchtold: We had originally scheduled the BTB ICAF fair to be staged at the Omni San Diego Hotel in 08 / where the gallery I direct, L Street Fine Art is housed.  However we pulled back at that time for several reasons: the economy was just starting to tank, the space was a little too small, we needed more planning time and we were unsure whether or not we could get North County Coastal folks to travel downtown for a first time event.

We did not stop the planning process, however.  We initiated an extensive market survey study to over 5000 international galleries to determine what they would like to see done differently in a new fair / did they think San Diego would work / would they come ??  We got some very good feedback and it helped us shape what the fair is today.

In addition we restructured our funding approach and relied more on investors and less on corporate sponsors.  We were given a wonderful sponsorship opportunity from the Grand Del Mar, and everything began to fall into place.

The Grand Del Mar is an unprecedented location to stage a fair of this kind. Typically fairs are down in Barker Hangers or sleeping rooms or Convention Centers.  We will be staging this show in the expansive and luxurious master ballroom. It is quite spectacular.

Julie Schraeger, is one of my best friends and one of the savviest women I know.  I asked her in the beginning to come on board as my Director of Development (two years ago) and she has been with me 110% through thick and thin.  We have had to overcome some major hurdles in pulling this event off and without her support and contribution I don’t know that we would be where we are today.

I was fortunate enough to work with Joshua Weinberg when I was an exhibitor at Aqua Art Miami 08.  I was very impressed with his demeanor, attention to detail and quick responsiveness.  I was also impressed that he really got my vision and felt that I did that San Diego was ripe for a major art fair.

In addition we have assembled an extraordinary team who are all dedicated to the success of this event.  Maureen Gibbons our partner and the Curatorial Director of the fair, has worked hard in reaching out to galleries in Mexico and abroad.  Jacqueline Silverman came on as our Community Outreach Director and has rallied the local collector/artistic community to support this event.  Brenda Regier, International Artist, has worked about 100  hours a week since she joined our team to develop the Re Envisioning A World Beyond Borders project in collaboration with QualcommMarie Vickers Horne, is our Volunteer and Special Projects Coordinator, and she has assembled the most dedicated team of internsJenn Von Borba Von Stauffenberg, from PR Olive Solutions has led our PR Team.  Other partners include Wendy Segal and Ian Mausner.

qi peng: Do you have any favorite hobbies which you enjoy in your spare time? How do these activities complement your work as a gallery owner, curator, and art fair director? How do you manage to balance your free time with your professional workload? Do you have any favorite cuisine or dishes that you enjoy? Considering that food is essential for the artistic soul, what things do you enjoy about meals either prepared in a restaurant or home setting?

Ann Berchtold: I love to work and thrive on the relationships that come with it.  I also love to exercise – it keeps me physically and mental together to attack all of the daily hurdles that come with all the roles I play.  I am an avid beach volleyball player and also have recently gotten addicted to Cycling.

qi peng: What is your favorite online resources, blog, and art magazines or journals for checking out the latest art news scoop and inside information? Do you have any favorite or humorous stories from your art world experiences you wish to share with your fans and column readers here? Do you feel that selling artwork will be more aligned with Internet-based sales and/or the white-box gallery physical building during the future?

Ann Berchtold: I love the email blasts from ArtNexus / The Art Newspaper / Artnet and VAS.  I do the quick scan in the morning to stay up-to-date.  I have always read the Wall Street Journal and think they have done a good job of promoting art/auctions/fairs.

I am skeptical about selling art on the Internet – unless it is a blue-chip piece that is widely known.  To me personally – I want to be in front of the piece and moved in someway to purchase.  That is why I believe that ART FAIRS are fantastic in this day and age.  They provide a one-stop shop to see an extensive array of works in an environment that is unpretentious.

qi peng: How do you think that the new media, ranging from video art to Internet-based projects, will impact people’s appreciation of painting and photography and sculpture, more traditional and established media, which are interacting with each other in terms of visual motifs and archetypes? Do you feel that as people interact with new media, they will be able to critique the cliches of mainstream media and have a profound understanding of what humanity is and will become?

Ann Berchtold: [no answer]

qi peng: As curator of SanDiegoArtist.com, what do you think are the dominant issues and subjects within contemporary art at the moment? How do these subjects and themes differ from the focus of artists ten years ago? Do you envision any new subjects that may appear within the next ten years? If so, what would those be? Are there any specific themes that contemporary San Diego artists focus on?

Ann Berchtold: [no answer]

qi peng: What makes San Diego a unique venue for art collectors relative to that of other major contemporary centers such as Los Angeles or New York City? Your work has been interested in bridging the axes between Latin American/Mexican art with that of its American and Canadian counterparts. What got you interested in this political and artistic issue?

Ann Berchtold: San Diego with its close proximity to Mexico is a natural arena to stage the first bi-national art fair on the West Coast, and the best city to present an objective representation of the overlapping art activity that is taking place along the Pacific Rim.

One of the goals of the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair is to provide a forum to showcase the collective artistic talent from this region along side the talent of international artists. As well as, foster in a pro-active fashion, the importance of international art and cultural leadership and intercultural dialogue.

I have many friends who are artists who live on both sides of the border.  I am intrigued with how this environment has shaped the work of many of the artists.  However, defining the contemporary artists’ identity solely based on cultural or geographical boundaries can be limiting to the artists.  The fair name “Beyond the Border” originated from this idea that we should consider the artists and their respective works independently instead of clumping them together under titles such as “Chicano Artists” or other similar classifications.

qi peng: What is the SD (San Diego) Art Prize? As the project director for this prestigious award, what is its goal and connection with the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair? How does this competition help to boost visibility for San Diego artists who are interested in exploring new media?

Ann Berchtold: The San Diego Art Prize was conceived to promote and encourage dialogue, appreciation and interaction with some of San Diego’s leading established and emerging artists.  It is a cash prize with exhibition opportunities.  Each Season spotlights several established and emerging artists whose outstanding achievements in the field of Visual Arts merit recognition. It is an opportunity for the established artist to provide mentorship and guidance to the emerging artist.

At the fair we have a spotlight exhibition featuring two of this year’s winners: Kim MacConnel and Brian Dick – who were featured in April 09 in a joint exhibition at L Street Fine Art called Discombobulated.

qi peng: For the Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair, you were to procure the famous art critic and professor Dave Hickey to deliver the upcoming symposium art talk and attend a special luncheon with guests. What accounts for this brilliant choice and how was the process for being able to have a prominent member of the art community at this burgeoning art fair in its first year? What things do you think that Hickey will bring to the table in San Diego?

Ann Berchtold: A year or so ago I  came across this quote by Dave Hickey in an interview with ARTINFO / Published March 21, 2008, when asked if he liked art fairs:

“I love art fairs. I see art. I talk to people who like art. One thing I did notice in Miami last year is that the big galleries’ selections of younger artists tended to be pretty lame—crocheted pink octopi, fake mahogany appliqué on sea-turtle shells, things like that. We’ve gone through 40 years of art becoming more vulgar. Personally, I think we are back, in a stylistic sense, to where we were after Pollock and de Kooning, on the verge of a period devoted to gradual refinement. You’ve got to recognize the end of things when they end”

It resonated with me and I started to delve into more writings by Mr. Hickey.  He very eloquently and engagingly is able to articulate what many feel but are afraid to say out loud.  He breaks down the pretentious attitude that many approach art with and exposes it.

Julie tracked down his email and sent him a note and asked him if he would give a talk at our fair – thinking there was no way in hell! Lo and behold about an hour later we got an email back from him with the Reply: Sure!

There is a huge demographic of high-net-worth individuals who live in San Diego/La Jolla /Rancho Santa Fe.  Many of whom have not been galvanized by the institutional approach to collecting/appreciating art.  It is my hope that Mr. Hickey shows “another way of seeing” and that the art fair shows “another way of experiencing” art in an unpretentious and fun environment.

qi peng: Before we embark on the last question, thanks very much for your time. Is there anything else that you wish to share with readers, fans, and patrons of Beyond the Border International Contemporary Art Fair, your gallery spaces, Tijuana artists, art fairs, and your curated projects?

Ann Berchtold: Hope to see you at the FAIR!

For more gossip or dishing me the art scoop: E-mail me at qipengart@gmail.com
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Written by qi peng

August 6, 2009 at 4:00 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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