ArtHamptons is under new ownership as of this month.
Following the conclusion of Hamptons Expo Group’s fifth Houston Art Fair on September 12, the Southampton-based company announced that closing day marked the transfer of ownership of the fair, and the entirety of Hamptons Expo Group’s holdings, to Georgia-based event production and management company Urban Expositions.
The move puts Urban Expositions—which recently partnered with massive UK-based events company Clarion Events, and now manages 40 shows in the U.S.—at the helm of all Hamptons Expo Group’s art fairs, including ArtAspen, the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair, the Houston Art Fair and, of course, ArtHamptons.
In a phone call Wednesday, Hamptons Expo Group founder and president, Rick Friedman, an art collector who founded the four fairs and served as director for each, said he’s “semi retiring,” but he will remain involved with the events in a consulting capacity. “I’ve been at this a long time and I’m not a kid anymore,” he explained, noting that Hamptons Expo Group is a very small company and it was time to hand things over to a major corporation that can “skyrocket this thing to the next level.”
ArtHamptons fans need not panic—the Houston Art Fair had another successful year and Urban Expositions CEO Doug Miller appears set on continuing all the Hamptons Expo Group fairs, starting with the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair on February 11-14, 2016. Houston Art Fair will return September 22-25, 2016. “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,” Miller said, explaining the acquisition and his company’s expansion into the art fair market.
Always the first Hamptons art fair of the summer season—ahead of Art Market Hamptons and Art Southampton—ArtHamptons changed things up significantly in 2015. The organizers moved its longstanding date up one week this past summer to take advantage of the busy July 4 weekend, and moved the location from the Nova’s Ark Project property in Water Mill to a private estate on Lumber Lane in Bridgehampton.
Friedman said the changes in 2015 were improvements, not a reflection of poor sales or attendance. ArtHamptons will return to the Lumber Lane location in 2016 and keep the July 4 weekend date. The fair’s successful formula won’t change much either next summer, Friedman said, though he expects to see more sculpture and design, as well as a much stronger presence from European galleries, thanks in large part to Urban Exposition’s connection to Clarion Events in Britain.
Along with its new collection of art fairs, Urban Expositions, which was founded in 1995, manages a portfolio of 36 events in the gift, souvenir, art, aviation, foodservice, pet and gaming sectors. The company also produces SOFA Chicago, that city’s longest continuously running gallery-presented art fair, and Airport Revenue News, a publication focused on the airport concession industry. They currently have offices in Shelton, Connecticut and Boca Raton, Florida, with additional employees in California, Colorado and Illinois.
Read more about ArtHamptons at arthamptons.com.