Nir Hod and Inaugural Group Exhibition at Gavlak Palm Beach
Photo: Nicholas Mele

New Art Event Spotlights Palm Beach’s Flourishing Creative Community

While Art Basel makes a splash in Miami, gallery owner Sarah Gavlak is shining a light on Palm Beach's thriving arts scene

Palm Beach has always been home to awe-inspiring architecture and design – the island’s transformative residences were created by observant world travelers, among them are some of the country’s most passionate collectors. New Wave Art Wknd, founded by Palm Beach gallery owner Sarah Gavlak, aims to showcase the town’s flourishing contemporary art scene and to inspire conversations about inclusivity.

“The spirit of New Wave Art Wknd is to take advantage of the growing collector and artist community in Palm Beach, and to shift the focus and financial resources to underserved and under-recognized artists while inspiring productive conversations,” emphasizes Gavlak, who rallied likeminded curators and collectors Beth Rudin DeWoody, Jane Holzer, Amy Phelan, Ann G. Tenenbaum, Burt Minkoff, Franklin Sirmans, Irene Karp, Keith Bloomfield, Lisa Perry, and Mike De Paola, to serve as advisors. “We all share the belief that it is essential to build a more inclusive culture and provide a serious platform for underrepresented artists including women, immigrants and artists of color,” says Gavlak.

Sarah Gavlak Photo: Weston Wells

Events, running from November 29 through December 2, include a panel entitled “Creating Place and Claiming Space: On Ideas of Inclusion in Contemporary Art” which will be moderated by Dr. Isolde Brielmaier with artists Diana al Hadid, Sanford Biggers, Gisela Colon, and curator Yvonne Force Villareal. “Women Affecting Change,” a conversation between Cheryl Brutvan, curator of contemporary art, Norton Museum; Lydia Fenet, managing director, global head of strategic partnerships, Christie’s; Ann G. Tenenbaum,  an art collector and philanthropist and Gavlak will take place on Sunday at The Colony Hotel.

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Since opening her first Palm Beach gallery in 2005, Gavlak has never shied away from pioneering highly charged, conceptual exhibitions, including early solo presentations by Marilyn Minter, Betty Tompkins, Simone Leigh and Wade Guyton. Her new gallery space in the Royal Poinciana Plaza will open this week with a solo exhibition of works by Nir Hod, an abstract painter born in Israel and currently based in New York. “I find Nir’s ability to paint like an Old Master–while simultaneously exploring issues of decadence, narcissism, and the idea that beauty and horror can be opposite sides of the same coin—to be seductive and intriguing.”

Naturally, on his first visit to Palm Beach last week, Hod found the contrast between the gritty surroundings of his Jersey City studio and the sheer beauty of Palm Beach inspiring. “I like extremes. I left my studio on a cold, rainy morning and in less than three hours, I landed in this incredibly beautiful, bright, warm place. It was almost like magic. Every morning it looked like someone photo-shopped the clouds into the sky. The people in Palm Beach are very supportive of the arts,” says the artist.

Nir Hod and Inaugural Group Exhibition at Gavlak Palm Beach Photo: Nicholas Mele

Gavlak will also showcase a group exhibition including Candida Alvarez, Andrew Brischler, Gisela Colon, Vanessa German, Enoc Perez, Pae White, and Rob Wynne, to name a few.

This weekend will also see the opening of Beth Rudin DeWoody’s Bunker Artspace, a renovated 1925 Art Deco munitions factory on Bunker Road, where the uber-collector displays pieces from her 10,000-plus contemporary artworks. DeWoody has been a long-time booster for Palm Beach’s creative community. “I believe in West Palm. With New Wave Art Wknd, Sarah is trying to show everyone that there is a cultural center in Palm Beach County worth exploring. Miami’s Art Basel and other Florida art fairs, along with the Norton Museum’s Norman Foster addition and its expanded contemporary art collection, have paved the way for sophisticated collectors and incredible galleries and dealers to come here,” she says.

For the 2018 installation of The Bunker, artist E.V. Day and White Cube’s New York Artistic Director Eric Shiner will each co-curate a room alongside DeWoody. “It’s a great way to get people looking at art. Everyone loves to look at a personal collection.”

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