Apparently paintings and sculptures weren't the only things for sale at the fifth edition of the Houston Fine Art Fair last week.
On the fair's closing day Saturday, founder Rick Friedman of Hampton Expo Group transferred his ownership of the event to Urban Expositions, a company based in Kennesaw, Georgia, that promotes and manages fairs in a variety of industries -- from aviation to gaming and food service. Urban Expositions is affiliated with the U.K.-based Clarion Events, which delivers more than 200 events in 20 countries.
Friedman sold his entire Hampton Expo Group holdings, which also included art fairs in Aspen, the Hamptons and Palm Springs. He will remain involved as a consultant, according to a press release issued Wednesday.
Urban Expositions CEO Doug Miller said his company is expanding into the art fair market because the Hamptons Expo Group fairs "are in desirable cities that are important to galleries and the art community, and we believe we can leverage our activity across the fairs to deliver dynamic and high-quality events."
The Houston Fine Art Fair had only about 50 exhibitors this year, compared to 80 its first year. And at least a fifth of them were non-profits working from donated booths. The fair has had stiff competition from the Texas Contemporary Art Fair, which will bring its fifth edition to the George R. Brown Convention Center Oct. 1-4.
Many in Houston's art community -- including dealers, artists and curators -- have long thought it would make more sense to combine the two events. It doesn't sound like that is happening; but at least some of the animosity between them may be gone.