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Sarah Gavlak, Founder of New Wave Art Wknd

Sarah Gavlak Celebrates Five Years of New Wave Art Wknd

Founder Sarah Gavlak Discusses Five Years of New Wave Art Wknd, which Returns to Palm Beach This Weekend.

A Milestone for Sarah Gavlak’s New Wave Art Wknd

The fifth edition of New Wave Art Wknd (NWAW) in Palm Beach and West Palm Beach takes place December 1–3, 2023. Under the theme “The Freedom of Expression,” the three-day event preceding Miami Art Week features public programming and events showcasing the contemporary art scene of Palm Beach, as well as garnering funds for its artists’ residency.

NWAW was founded by the gallerist Sarah Gavlak alongside an advisory board of names like Amy Phelan, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Lisa Perry, and Franklin Sirmans. Whitewaller spoke with Gavlak, whose eponymous gallery is showing work by Andrew Brischler in Palm Beach, about this year’s milestone edition.

WHITEWALLER: This is the fifth anniversary of New Wave Art Wknd. What does this milestone mean for you?

SARAH GAVLAK: Five years is of great importance to us. First, it means we made it through the pandemic when the arts and culture industries were battered, and that’s amazing. We grew as an organization, and now, more than ever, we feel that the community has fully embraced our mission. I am beyond grateful to our supporters and partners, especially Related, The Bunker Artspace, and the Norton Museum of Art, for backing our year-round offerings thus far and providing a vision for the next five years.

New Wave Art Wknd, Rachel Lee Hovnanian Rachel Lee Hovnanian, “Body Armor II (Ma-e)” and “Body Armor II (Polished),” 2023, polished aluminum, black painted pa:na bronze base, 90 1⁄2 in x 26 1⁄2 in x 12 inches, © Courtesy of Rachel Lee Hovnanian and Gavlak Gallery.

Palm Beach’s Growing Art Scene

WW: How have you seen the Palm Beach art community grow in the past five years?

SG: When I moved to Palm Beach twenty years ago, there were only a handful of daring collectors. Since then, I have seen more and more collectors move into the area. Cheryl Brutvan, the Norton Museum of Art’s first contemporary curator, really put the institution’s programming at the forefront with early exhibitions of Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Nina Chanel Abney, and Phyllida Barlow. The Museum most recently appointed Arden Sherman to fill this role, and it’s been a joy to watch her bring her breadth of expertise to Norton’s program. Furthermore, numerous galleries of all sizes have expanded here, offering a diverse group of artists an opportunity to thrive in a new and more robust environment. Palm Beach is now a real part of the conversation, and it’s been exciting to be at the helm.

New Wave Art Wknd 2023 Invites Artists to Express Themselves Freely

WW: This year’s theme is “The Freedom of Expression.” How was that theme arrived at?

SG: Over the past few years, it has become obvious that what is happening around us must be addressed. We saw books being banned and diverse points of view pushed to the margins and, in many cases, silenced. New Wave as an organization exists to provide a platform for those who might not otherwise have opportunities. The freedom of expression has always been the basis of our residency, which provides a safe space for artists who do not have representation. It was a natural evolution to expand that idea across all of our programming for 2023.

New Wave Art Wknd Niki de Saint Phalle, “Justice,” 1990, Polyester paint and gold leaf, 15 x 13 x 9 inches; courtesy of the Niki Charitable Art Foundation and Salon 94, New York.

WW: How will we see the theme play out in terms of programming this year?

SG: All our panels this year are focused on the challenges to our freedoms of expression, whether as artists, institutions, gallerists, curators, or collectors. We will seek to illustrate how those pressures have affected the art world on both a macro and micro level. We aim to illuminate how these issues are being addressed and offer real solutions.

Emanuel Hahn is This Year’s New Wave Art Wknd Artist-in-Residence

WW: The funds from NWAW go toward the residency, supporting artists of underrepresented communities. How will the residency be highlighted in terms of programming during this year’s edition?

SG: We are thrilled to have Emanuel Hahn, a Los Angeles–based Korean-American documentary photographer and director, as our artist-in-residence during New Wave Art Wknd this year. Our programming will start on Friday afternoon at his studio in The Square, where his work will be displayed. Hahn will also be in dialogue with the participants about his practice and residency all weekend.

New Wave Art Wknd Kiki Smith, “Sungrazer VIII,” 2019, bronze, 107.25 × 48 × 48 inches, courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery.
New Wave Art Wknd Ruth Duckworth, “Untitled,” 2022, Cast bronze, 72 x 42 inches; courtesy of the artist and Thea Burger.

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