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Two Major Art Fairs Prepare For Face-Off | The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

If there are two things Kevin Berlin knows, it’s his art and his women. When he’s not holed up in either of his studios—his time is split between Southampton and Florence, Italy—clutching a handful of paintbrushes, he can be seen gallivanting across the East End in the summer months, often flanked by a half dozen nearly nude, hand-painted women. Last year, they were green aliens. The year before that, tigers. This past February, Mr. Berlin found himself opposite the fairest lady of them all. And she was fully clothed—dressed, in fact, as Snow White. It was not another one of his performance art pieces. He was tying the knot.

Standing beside his good friend, Brussels-based art dealer Gregoire Vogelsang, at the Palm Springs Fine Art Fair in California, Mr. Berlin watched as his bride, Valeriya Plotnikova—the reigning Ms. Bikini Ireland—walked down the aisle in full costume, complete with a veil and small bouquet of flowers.

The couple exchanged vows in front of their witnesses—including a man dressed as one of the Seven Dwarfs—and turned to Mr. Vogelsang. “By the power of no one,” he officiated. “I declare you married.”

And with that, Mr. Berlin was officially tied down, though his marital status will not affect his upcoming performance art piece—and his wife would have it no other way, he said recently. It may include a horde of eye-catching women, he explained, or it may not. He simply assured that it will be unforgettable.

Those who are curious will have two opportunities to see what Mr. Berlin has in store: on Thursday night during both ArtHamptons and Art Market Hamptons. The two Bridgehampton-based pop-up art fairs are simultaneously opening their temporary tents to the public on July 10, at Nova’s Ark and the grounds of the Bridgehampton Historical Society, respectively.

Though the art fairs typically draw two distinctively different crowds, Mr. Berlin does not choose favorites.

“It’s kind of comparing apples and apples,” Mr. Berlin said of the two fairs during a phone interview last week. “The big difference is the philosophy.”

Over the last six years, ArtHamptons has blossomed into a highly anticipated attraction on the East End by boasting artwork from the greats—including the likes of Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning and Andy Warhol, according to fair founder Rick Friedman.

But this year, the majority of the price tags attached to the seventh annual fair’s 2,000 pieces of art—hailing from 87 international galleries showing in a 50,000-square-foot, air-conditioned tent through Sunday, July 13—will have significantly fewer zeros. This year, the average price point will range from $1,000 to $100,000—instead of, at times, upward of $1 million—falling more in line with the competing art fair just around the corner, Art Market Hamptons, now in its fourth year and opening the same night as Mr. Friedman’s enterprise.

“We do a very different thing,” Max Fishko, co-founder of Art Market Hamptons, said last week during a telephone interview. “So that’s not really going to be a problem.”

The younger fair of the two, Art Market Hamptons is actually an expansion of Mr. Fishko’s similar events in San Francisco and Miami. On the East End, the intimate affair offers 40 coveted spots to contemporary art galleries from across the nation. This year, they will bring nearly 4,000 works ranging in value from $500 to $15,000 apiece, he said.

Because both fairs are open through Sunday, the key is to plan wisely, Mr. Berlin warned, and get in early. “The good news is, you’re able to see both,” he said of the two fairs. “You’d better be clever opening night.”

During the ArtHamptons opening preview party on Thursday, patrons will be greeted by Moby, playing electronic music, before making their way through the grid-like arrangement of booths exhibiting work ranging from the pastoral landscapes of honoree Jane Freilicher to the platinum photography prints by self-taught artist Michael Massaia—one of the few photographers included in the fair.

Working out of his studio in Oradell, New Jersey, for the past five years, he built and developed his own process of creating large-scale prints with platinum powder completely by hand—a lost art in the photography world, according to Mr. Massaia.

“I saw a real laziness in a lot of modern photographers and the way they went about their work,” he said last week during a telephone interview. “It’s important to me that I do all the process myself—I see the project start to finish. I want to keep pushing what can be done completely alone.”

Art Market Hamptons will not only exhibit a range of art from some of the most cutting-edge luminaries nationwide, but also feature a bevy of food trucks, including Roberta’s Pizza, Red Hook Lobster Pound and Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream—a taste of the fair’s Brooklyn roots.

Whether Mr. Fishko and Mr. Friedman want to admit it, Thursday night will be a cultural face-off, which Mr. Vogelsang said is good for everyone. Next year, if the Belgium-based dealer is permitted, he is considering opening up a booth at Art Market Hamptons to run in tangent with ArtHamptons—where he has exhibited for the last three years with his Vogelsang Gallery.

In his opinion, there is a diverse-enough audience between the two fairs to make his plan plausible. Plus, he noted, it would be much more efficient and cost effective for international galleries, such as his, to show during multiple fairs while in town. Rounding out the season will be Art Southampton, coming to the Elks Lodge for its third year starting Thursday, July 24.

“If it was the same crowds, then I would not consider doing two fairs,” Mr. Vogelsang said. “The more excitement about art, the better. It’s a big month for art in the Hamptons.”

ArtHamptons open on Thursday, July 10, with a Black Card First Hour from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m., followed by a VIP preview party from 7 to 9:30 p.m. at Nova’s Ark in Bridgehampton. The show continues on Friday, July 11, and Saturday, July 12, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sunday, July 13, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Free valet parking. Tickets are $250 for the Black Card preview, $125 for VIP preview party, $40 for a three-day general admission pass and $25 for a one-day pass. For more information, call (631) 283-5505 or visit

Art Market Hamptons will kick off with an Opening Night Preview on Thursday, July 10, from 6 to 7 p.m., followed by an Opening Night Party from 7 to 10 p.m. on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Historical Society. The show continues with general admission on Friday, July 11, and Saturday, July 12, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, July 13, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tickets are $75 for the VIP pass, $35 for a three-day general admission pass and $25 for a one day pass. For more information, visit

Photo Credit: Patrick McMullan

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