Young at Art

Unlike most 2-year-olds, The Texas International Fine Art Fair is steady on its feet. And, instead of "terrible twos," the exhibition of fine art, antique and luxury item dealers suffers from the terribly expensive twos. While the catalog of exhibiting galleries doesn't list prices, with names such as Picasso, Rousseau, Toulouse Lautrec and Joan Miro filling pages along with vases and platters from Chinese dynasties, tapestries from 18th-century Europe and other historical artworks, it's no surprise there isn't a bargain basement.

The fair is like a museum with a broad representation of fine artwork, but with only a few pieces available for each nation, style and era, which is more a testament of the displayed items' rarity than a fault of the exhibition. And this virtual museum also has the priciest gift shop we've seen. Instead of umbrellas and sweatshirts emblazoned with Van Gogh's "Starry Night" and Matisse's water lily series, there are booths upon booths offering internally flawless diamonds, Art Deco necklaces, designer safes for home and office and a collection of first editions of Charles Dickens' novels.

This grab bag of fine art ranges from classical to modern. Selections range from a 500-year-old engraved rapier from Germany and a Renaissance map of the world with sea monsters marking unexplored waters to recent artworks such as a stained glass sheet mounted on a light box and a bronze sculpture of a man and bull inside a hamster wheel-like contraption. Fancy housewares in gold and silver, an Italian Baroque bed made for nobility and an entire set of billiard room furniture are also featured.

An equally diverse group of local galleries has secured space at this year's Texas International Fine Art Fair. David Dike Fine Art will exhibit Texas-themed paintings, Valley House Gallery and Pillsbury and Peters will show modern paintings and sculptures, and The Victorian Gallery will offer 19th-century oil paintings.