‘Focusing on the Basics…’


Question & Answer session with Jeff Lawson

Jeff Lawson, producer of art fairs, sat down with me to discuss his latest creation: the launch of UNTITLED, our first beachfront art fair and a new take on the art fair model.


SM: There is great buzz in the air about UNTITLED. Tell me how this fair grew from your original intent to what we’ll see during Art Basel week?

JL: Well, for years we have been thinking about it and finally saw an opportunity about two years ago. The overall artistic direction went to Omar Lopez- Chahoud, who hand-selected about 45 galleries.

SM: This art fair model is different– seems like a good collective came together… tell me how that happened.

JL: We were all in a dialogue together. We saw the show as a very cohesive, very specific, heavily edited one…Omar took care of the selection process, K/R (Architectural Firm) created the space.

SM: With previous art fairs and especially now with UNTITLED., what do you see as the one key success factor?”

JL: It’s as simple as paying attention to the Art. I think in order to stand out you have to go back to basics focusing on great art and great architecture.

SM: I like that! But what took us so long? Why hasn’t this happened already?!

JL: Ha! …not sure.

SM: Were there any obstacles in bringing an art fair like this to the city and more specifically to the actual beach?!

JL:We are dealing with more factors this time but the city has been incredibly supportive. Ocean Drive Association has been awesome. Jerry Libbin, Alan Randolph and everyone. It’s been a real delight.

SM: Will the public sense a theme to this show?

JL: Definitely. Yes. But the full artistic control was given over to Omar so that’s all I will say. We gave him tools….and yes we had a collective vision but it’s truly Omar and his vision. And K&R too-I really give them credit!

SM: I can tell you really respect K/R’s aesthetic—tell us why K/R was so pivotal to this project? JL: Simply speaking, they really understand the art business. In addition they have revolutionized how a temporary structure is built.

SM: What can we expect from you in the future?

JL: I plan to start working on the format for 2013 but I don’t have a specific agenda yet.

SM: In other words, your plans are to keep it fresh?

JL: That’s the goal!

SM: I know you started construction today, what’s your gut feeling at this very moment?

JL: Really excited…all the way from the city to the collectors to galleries to artists and to Omar– everybody feels that they are doing something interesting. We look forward to many more years. I feel confident that we put together something unique and impactful.

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