The euphoria of last year’s event was missing but that did not dampen the near manic enthusiasm for the outstanding material presented. Though attendance was disappointing sales bordered on spectacular. The high sales volume was in sharp contrast to Europe’s semi-equivalent Sartirana event where attendance was high and sales ranged from low to nonexistent. One might say that ARTS2 was less diluted with mediocre material but there were perhaps more top pieces shown in Sartirana. Indeed some of the material was offered at both shows but while it languished in Europe the same cannot be said for ARTS. Almost every great piece that crossed the Atlantic quickly disappeared into collectors’ hands.
An informal survey of the participant dealers revealed an odd dichotomy of impressions. Contrary to the public perception that dealers are completely egocentric and money hungry more than half were wistfully longing for a return to the wonderful rapport with the collectors, fellow dealers, and the non-stop fun that distinguished last year’s fest.
The organizers, headed up by Ben Banayan, and a committee consisting of Nick Wright, Bertram Frauenknecht, Ulrike Montigel, Seref Ozen, and Alberto Levi introduced and executed a new concept this year, Rug Week, where events were coordinated with the San Francisco Tribal Arts group, the de Young Museum, the San Francisco Bay Area Rug Society, and several dealers around town. In addition, ARTAA hosted a “Chinese” square exhibition at the Capri that was acclaimed by most viewers to be beyond exceptional.
All in all the event had to be called an unequivocal success with nearly all parties returning home happy, satisfied, and full of good memories. Let’s hope that it continues.