The Fog Design + Art fair will not be rolling into Fort Mason this January, the first major cancelation of the Bay Area’s 2021 art calendar. The five day event, which would have hosted its opening gala on Wednesday, Jan. 20, and lasted through Jan. 24, has been postponed until 2022 due to concerns about still-uncertain conditions pertaining to the coronavirus pandemic, Fog executive producer Megan Knight confirmed.
“It was not an easy decision to make,” says Knight. “We did an analysis to see what it would take to make the fair happen and what markers we needed to be at in time. We couldn’t guarantee San Francisco would even let us have an event in January.”
Fog co-founder Stanlee Gatti says that while the leadership committee held off on canceling the eighth edition of the fair as long as possible “the number one thing we have to think about safety. It was decided it wasn’t feasible to move ahead at this time.”
The Fog Design + Art fair has become an event that attracts international figures from the art world every year including gallerists, artists and collectors. The glitzy Fog gala benefiting the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is considered one of the key events of the New Year social-philanthropy calendar while the fair and accompanying programming have developed a diverse audience of art and design connoisseurs. For $25-$32, fair goers can see well-known contemporary art like Ai Weiwei’s gilt-covered stainless steel bicycle sculpture “Forever” or Kohei Nawa’s “PixCell-Maral Deer” taxidermy art as well as furniture and design by noted companies like Fornasetti and Superstudio.
In recent years with the Untitled Art fair hosting its San Francisco edition the same weekend as Fog, an unofficial San Francisco “Art Week” has developed with many galleries coordinating openings of new shows and other special events to take advantage of the influx of VIPS in town. Untitled has not yet announced whether they will go forth with their 2021 San Francisco fair, tentatively scheduled for Jan. 15-17, but will be making an announcement in the coming weeks.
In a 2019 Chronicle story, interior designer and Saint Joseph’s Arts Society founder Ken Fulk said the week was “becoming our Art Basel,” referring to the popular Miami Beach week of art fairs and events in December.
Fog has not planned any remote programming for the week when the fair would have taken place. Instead, Knight says Fog will use its social media accounts to boost online events that week hosted by San Francisco galleries. Exhibitors accepted for the cancelled 2021 fair will be carried over to the 2022 fair, as will the Fort Mason venue. The decision to cancel the 2021 fair had to happen by September, Knight says, in order to avoid any financial ramifications to either Fog or the exhibitors.
Knight says that it’s possible that the 2022 Fog fair could still be operating with COVID-19 considerations in mind, but that she’s certain the fair will return.
“I think large scale events will come back but they could look different in how we serve food, maybe mask wearing, some of that might be here to stay,” says Knight. “We might get past social distancing enough to have a party and large gathering in the room by then. I’d love to see big events come back sooner rather than later.”
Given how quickly the fair and surrounding art week has grown in recent years, Gatti says that change has been a constant with Fog long before coronavirus.
“Fog has never been exactly the same anyway,” says Gatti. “It’s always new and different each year.” Future versions of the fair, he says, “will be the same in that it will always be different. We have the support of our benefactors and exhibitors, I think the audiences will be back in a minute.”