Armory Week 2009: Fountain

Fountain Art Fair 2009

Interview with Founder: John Leo of Leo Kesting Gallery

written by Nikki Schiro in New York

NS: Whose idea was it anyway? Tell us a little bit about how Fountain came to be.
JL: In 2005 David Kesting, Lincoln Capla and I went to Miami to check out Art Basel. While there we explored all of the exhibitions and found that there was something lacking. There was no presence of smaller independent galleries. When we returned to New York we immediately started working on a project for the upcoming Armory Show. We found a space and collaborated with McCaig Welles gallery and Front Room for the first Fountain exhibition in 2006.

NS: Why you believe it’s getting so much attention?
JL: Fountain separates itself in that it is more of a collaborative effort than the traditional art fairs. When you visit, the entire exhibition feeld like one big installation. There are only slight separations between the galleries and the spaces are much larger than booth style fairs. Also, fountain stands out as a supporter of young independent galleries.

NS: How do you suspect the New York Fountain will differ from its Miami counterpart this year?
JL: Bigger Faster Stronger. In the last 10 years, over 158 International Art Fairs emerged. Currently, faced witha financial crisis that extends beyond us into global territory, we also find that with reallocation of wealth, art has taken a public hit (hard hit).

NS: What do you speculate will change, regarding International Art Fairs, over the next 10 years to come?
JL: I think that there will be fewer fairs and the large ones like Armory and Art Basel will keep going strong, but there needs to be a return to the gallery. Small galleries are closing every day forced into closure by the fairs. Galleries cannot maintain overhead on their spaces and cannot afford not to do art fairs and miss opportunities to expose their artists to a larger audience. Here in lies the dilemma.

Website: Fountain Art Fair