Published: October 11, 2016
Tony Fusco and Robert Four are cultural innovators. Their Boston-based marketing and public relations company Fusco & Four helps the city’s most stylish — from architects and designers to museums and foundations — tailor their message and reach new audiences. Tony and Robert are also longtime dealers in Twentieth Century art who spearhead the influential Boston Design Week, among other events. The partners draw on these diverse skills and experiences as managers of the Boston International Fine Art Show (BIFAS), which celebrates its 20th anniversary from October 20–23 at the Cyclorama, Boston Center for the Arts. We recently spoke with Tony about the show, the marketplace and Fusco & Four’s latest direction in the arts.
How does BIFAS reflect changes in the Boston art market?
When Robert Four and I started the show in 1997 with Jacqueline Sideli, there had been no successful art fairs in Boston. Twenty years later, we have proven the naysayers wrong. There have never been as many art galleries in Boston as there are today. I like to think the show has played a “Johnny Appleseed” role in changing the entire art landscape here.
What have you learned in two decades? What’s your approach to running a successful show?
The show was really started by a handful of art dealers, including Fusco & Four, who were all doing Jackie Sideli’s Boston Antiques Show. Martha Richardson Fine Art and Questroyal Fine Art have been with us since the start. Many others have been with us ten or more years. Whenever Robert and I have a question or an issue, we ask ourselves, “How do we feel about this as dealers?” Our golden rule: without dealers, there is no show.
Where are the best opportunities for collectors?
There are myriad opportunities for collectors because the world of fine art is so broad. At BIFAS, we pride ourselves on bringing in galleries who represent a range of emerging, midcareer and established artists from all over the world. On Saturday, October 22, we have a special panel discussion on collecting. Joshua Rose, editor of American Fine Art and American Art Collector, is moderating a discussion with collectors Robert Bachelder and Daniel E. Ross and columnist Jay Cantor, who will share insights and tips, and discuss pitfalls of collecting.
What can we expect at the October 20 gala preview benefiting the Boston Athenaeum?
Expect creative cuisine from Jules Catering, a selection of Dark Horse wines, Portico Beer, live jazz music from Lihi Haruvi — a young woman who plays a mean saxophone — and a crowd that knows that “gala” means getting first dibs on works for sale. Seriously though, there will also be the presentation of an Award of Merit to the Polly Thayer Starr Charitable Trust from the Boston Athenaeum. Oh, and a cake. Did I mention a cake?
And the loan exhibit?
It’s our honor this year to present selections from the private collection of Abbot W. and Marcia L. Vose, presented by Carey L. Vose, a sixth-generation member of Vose Galleries, one of the country’s oldest art emporiums and a great BIFAS supporter.
How are you reaching young collectors?
“We need to bring in young collectors!” I have listened to this mantra for years in the industry. First, they’re not collectors yet, they’re just young. They are looking for an experience, a social activity, a chance to be with their peers at a civilized event where they are not afraid to be the elegant, thoughtful and intelligent young adults they really are. One in three Bostonians is between the age of 20 and 34. We reach them for all of our shows by special invitation through multiple organizations, museums, professional organizations, social media and other channels. The Atheneaum has an active “Under 35” membership and has offered a special gala ticket price for that age group.
Can you give us a sneak preview of the Boston Home Décor Show?
Our second annual Boston Home Décor Show follows three weeks after BIFAS in November. It taps into the Boston design community to support a gala preview for DIFFA — Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS. The weekend show is three days of indulgence in interior design with nationally known guest speakers. It brings together antiques, Midcentury Modern and contemporary furnishings and fine art to reflect the way that people are designing their homes today — a less stylistically restrictive interior design that embraces old and new. Success as antiques dealers in the future will depend on positioning and promoting antiques within the broader interior design market.
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