With millions around the world still under strict lockdowns or partial quarantines, galleries and large exhibition spaces have had to maintain audiences and showcase their collections with virtual presentations, tours and lectures. During a year in which the International Art Fair of Bogotá (ARTBO) is celebrating its 16th anniversary and art highlight of a cultural agenda that also includes the mid-year ARTBO Weekend, for the event organizers – the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce (CCB) – the coronavirus pandemic presents a unique opportunity to draw awareness to the importance of culture in times of a public health crisis.

At a critical moment in our common history when humanity has had to isolate and endure additional stresses relating to the pandemic, including mental and emotional strain, art can sensibilize empathy, from rainbows painted by children in honor of healthcare workers to charity auctions for families in need. And to make visible the importance of taking care of ourselves and especially others, ARTBO invited 29 artists to create a collection of facemasks that will go on sale to the public and which were manufactured by the lounge and swimwear company Onda de Mar.

The sale of masks are destined to the fund Fondo de Apoyo al Arte to help four leading art museums (Museo de Arte Moderno de Barranquilla – MAMB, Museo de Arte Moderno de Medellín – MAMM, Museo de Arte Moderno de Bogotá – MAMBO, and Museo La Tertulia), as well as 24 galleries have resources to cover essential costs during the pandemic.

The launch takes place between 10 am and 1 pm on the ARTBO website www.artbo.co and includes performances by recording artists by J. Balvin,  Fonseca, Chambuco, Juanes and Yuri Buenaventura. Among the established artists participating are Álvaro Barrios, Santiago Cardenas, Miguel Böhmer, Ana Gonzalález, Kindi Llajtu, Santiago Parra and Miler Lagos. If interested in owning a very artsy facemask, look for them in 15 Carulla supermarkets or the official retailer: www.ondademar.co

The Fund for Support of the Arts is a preview to ARTBO Fin de Semana (ARTBO Weekend) which this year lasts an entire month (July 29 – August 29) given that the capital remains under preventive obligatory isolation. Without the possibility of gallery hopping on foot, the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce is hosting virtual tours of Bogotá’s diverse art venues and which include 65 galleries, independent spaces, museums and cultural foundations.

The program also features online seminars, encounters with editorial insiders and art book publishers, gastronomy workshops and interactive sessions with curators and artists. Breaking with the six traditional art circuits in Bogotá, the digital edition of ARTBO Fin de Semana includes a section called Regions, with tours of galleries in Cali, Medellín, Barranquilla and Pereira.

The next event on the ARTBO calendar is an online auction of 80 works by gallery represented artists, the majority of whom are familiar names at the Bogotá international art fair. Subasta takes place from August 15 to 29 and comes with a catalog for new collectors profiling the artists, technical specifications and works in various mediums priced at the opening of the gavel between COP$500,000 and COP$6,000.000.

The International Art Fair of Bogotá is one of the most exacting art happenings in the Americas, given its curatorial vision and commercial scope. At the epicenter of an art month in the capital that includes the fringe art festival Barcú, ARTBO Feria runs October 15 to 18 and will offer an experimental program of its non-commercial sections and focused on bringing together diverse audiences. For its first-ever digital edition, the Chamber will have a platform that will be activated with moments dedicated to galleries, as well as live streaming of its commercial categories: Projects, References and Forum.

After glass-clinking inaugurations and droves of visitors streaming through the main exhibition hall at Corferias, 2020’s virtual art fair requires adapting to a new visual experience. Given ARTBO’s curatorial track record and a prestigious line-up that has consolidated the Colombian capital as an obligatory stop on the international art circuit, viewing art in this pandemic comes down to one essential ingredient that the Chamber has earned in 16 years of promoting cultural industries – credibility.