In 2018, Gallerist Sarah Gavlak founded the non-profit organization, New Wave: An artist residency program in Palm Beach that champions diversity, inclusivity, immigration and equal rights for women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ communities through public programs and a year-round residency for emerging artists. Backed by an advisory board of the art world’s leading curators, collectors, artists and museum directors, recent resident artists have included Devin Osorio, Na’ye Perez, Maria Lucía ‘Lulu’ Varona, Ana Maria Velasco, and Roberto Visani.

In 2019, Gavlak introduced New Wave Art Wknd, an annual initiative that would follow Miami’s Art Basel, featuring private collection and studio visits, curator-led tours and networking events, and an extensive list of public programming. “[The weekend] is designed to showcase the flourishing contemporary art scene in South Florida, draw attention to New Wave’s activity throughout the year, and offer a platform to discuss critical issues in contemporary art and society in Palm Beach, where these conversations often need to happen most,” says program director Sarah Haimes. This year’s event takes place December 2-4.

Below, we sat down with Sarah Gavlak to discuss New Wave Art Wknd 2022.

New Wave Art Wknd Founder Sarah Gavlak. Photo: Olivia Alonso Gough

Why did you decide to launch New Wave Art Wknd in 2018? And why Palm Beach?

I’ve been a part of the Palm Beach community since 2004 and opened GAVLAK in 2005, pioneering the contemporary art scene here. I had been acutely aware of the lack of gallery presence and any form of an artist community here for many years. 

At the core of New Wave’s mission is to give artists a seat at the table, to galvanize the growing collector base here in Palm Beach, and to shift the focus and financial resources to underrepresented artists while inspiring productive conversations around diversity, inclusivity, immigration, and equal rights for women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ communities. 

Who’s behind it with you?

Program Director Sarah Haimes and I work very closely with an incredible advisory board that includes prominent curators, collectors, artists, philanthropists, and museum directors such as Beth Rudin DeWoody, Sanford Biggers, Lisa Perry, Amy Phelan, Sue Hostetler Wrigley, Franklin Sirmans, and Ann Tenenbaum, among others. We’re thrilled to have long-term partnerships with local institutions as well, including The Norton Museum of Art, and The Bunker Artspace, of course. The Bunker originally opened to coincide with our first New Wave Art Wknd and has been an anchor event ever since. We also wouldn’t have been able to grow without our additional long list of supporters ranging from collectors, artists, arts professionals, and more, who have shared their generosity, time, and expertise for NWAW panel discussions and events, allowing us to put together robust year-round programming around the Palm Beaches. 

What does New Wave Art Wknd entail?

New Wave Art Wknd is a relaxed, fun gathering over three days after Miami Basel that funds the not-for-profit New Wave Artist Residency program. In addition to the public panel discussions and programs at The Norton Museum and The Square, the New Wave Patron Program includes private collection visits, curator-led tours, and networking events.

At the core of New Wave’s mission is our year-round artist-in-residence program that offers emerging artists from underrepresented communities an apartment and studio space at The Square in West Palm Beach for six weeks to two months, along with round-trip travel and a $5,000 unrestricted stipend. Proceeds from donations and Patron ticket sales during New Wave Art Wknd directly support the Artist-in-Residence program and our year-round public programs. We have welcomed ten artists-in-residence since launching the residency program in 2020. Recent resident artists over the last year have included Devin Osorio, Na’ye Perez, Maria Lucía ‘Lulu’ Varona, Ana Maria Velasco, and Roberto Visani. Kirk Henriques is our current artist-in-residence through January 2023, and we can’t wait to see what he has in store.  

How is it different from Miami’s Art Basel?

While Miami has had an established contemporary art scene for quite some time, it’s been really special to watch Palm Beach’s contemporary art scene grow exponentially, especially over the last few years. With New Wave Art Wknd following the Vernissage of Miami Art Week every year, we hope that locals and visitors to Florida alike can experience the flourishing Contemporary Art scene in Palm Beach. Together with our partners, we have a full slate of gallery exhibitions and museum exhibitions, open studios, tours, and public panels to offer. It’s most important to note that New Wave Art Wknd is non-commercial; we encourage NWAW visitors to come ready to engage in timely discussions around contemporary art and society and to support the artist-in-residence program, which is so vital to the Palm Beach and West Palm Beach community.  

Can you tease some highlights from this year’s schedule? 

This year’s theme is “SERVICE,” exploring how we can best serve our communities of artists and beyond. We’ll host two public panel discussions and one patron panel around this theme, each with leading industry professionals, on topics like “Feminist Social Practice – Women Artists and Curators Today,” “Supporting Artists through Philanthropy, Collecting, and Residency programs,” and “The Power of Public Art.”  We have many incredible panelists this year, including but not limited to Marilyn Minter, Arghavan Khosravi, Arden Sherman, Stephanie Ingrassia, Jesse Krimes, Dr. Joy Simmons, Kendal Henry, and Cortney Lane Stell, amongst others. 

Another highlight of NWAW programming every year is the first look at the new exhibitions at Beth Rudin DeWoody’s private collection – The Bunker Artspace, a former toy factory and later munitions armory during World War II, originally built in 1920. This year, we’re thrilled that Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, and Anne Pasternak, Director of the Brooklyn Museum, are guest curating a special exhibition at The Bunker. 

Our local gallery partners, spread across West Palm Beach, The Royal Poinciana and Worth Avenue, will also host extended gallery hours, talks, and more throughout the weekend. A special gallery open house will take place on Saturday afternoon featuring our partners Acquavella, White Cube, Pace, Paula Cooper Gallery, Ben Brown Fine Arts, and TW Fine Art, which is hosting a special exhibition this year featuring the work of previous New Wave artists-in-residence.

What are you personally looking forward to seeing?  

The Bunker Artspace always has new surprises around every corner by both emerging (including some of New Wave’s residents!) and well-established artists in Beth’s ever-growing collection. The first panel of NWAW 2022 will take place at The Norton Museum of Art, alongside incredible exhibitions on artist Joseph Stella and the collection of Nicola Erni, who built one of the most important private collections of fashion photography. Some of the most memorable moments during NWAW take place at the private collection visits for the Patron program—who doesn’t love that kind of behind-the-scenes access! This year, we are thrilled to see the collections of Marc Glimcher and Fairfax Dorn, Lisa & James Cohen, and Kelly Williams. 

Plans for the future of New Wave Art Wknd?

In 2023, we’ll be celebrating the 5th-anniversary edition of New Wave Art Wknd, and it’s been incredible to see our impact on the community thus far. We’re continually growing our list of collaborators, the collectors and community members we reach, and the artists we can impact with the residency program. Whether participants have lived in the community for 30 years or are just visiting for a few days, we’re grateful for NWAW’s ability to cement special engagement opportunities and real relationships for the artists within the community.