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Affordable Art Fair, New York

With a private viewing that began on April 2, the four-day event known as the Affordable Art Fair, hosts 78 galleries and a huge array of contemporary art at The Metropolitan Pavilion in Chelsea. On Thursday April 3, I called a gaggle of friends and joined a Thursday night party for young collectors. We browsed contemporary art while sipping cocktails by Slow & Low Rock and Rye.

Affordable Art Fair 2014 Spring, NYC(top left) Max and Suzy take in the sites, (top right) Lancaster Ballroom, The Savoy by Siobhan Doran, 2010, Giclee Print. Courtesy of Bicha Gallery. (bottom left) Freeze by James Burke, 2014, featuring mini Lego pieces. Courtesy of Bicha Gallery.
Affordable Art Fair 2014 Spring, NYC

The concept is simple, thousands of original paintings, prints, sculptures and photographs all under one roof, ranging from $100-$10,000, with more than half priced under $5,000. The work of young, emerging artists hangs alongside household names, while a wall for recent graduates of local art schools, and the Art Students League of New York, provides a chance to snap up work by a future master.

Affordable Art Fair 2014 Spring, NYC(Bottom Left) Davy & Kristin McGuire’s Fairies Series, mixed media video in jars from 360 by SHOPART, a print of the quintessential Greek, diner cup from the Rebecca Hossack Gallery.

This was my fifth visit to the Affordable Art Fair and yet, I still found myself inspired by the myriad of color frames, new concepts, and young buyers. The fair aims to make collecting universal, they even offer online guides for beginning a collection, framing or hanging art, or introducing art to children! Confused about gouache versus acrylic? Why not use the fair’s glossary for media and techniques.

Affordable Art Fair 2014 Spring, NYC(Left) Plaster sculpture, Arching Specimen, 2013 by Umberto Kamperveen, (top middle) four Buddhas by Garam Lee.

Since 1999, the globally traveling event has  welcomed over 1.4 million people and have garnered over $316 million sales in art, with fairs in cities including London, Bristol, Amsterdam, Brussels, New York, Singapore, Hamburg, Mexico City, Rome, Milan, Seattle, Stockholm and Hong Kong.

Affordable Art Fair 2014 Spring, NYC(top left) Nathan Vincent’s knit yarn and foam weapons and explosives, (top right) PURE EVIL serves as guest artist for Coates & Scarry gallery. Various, pop-art and spray-painted canvases faux drip to the floor in ‘Mel Ferrer’s Nightmare’ and Andy Warhol’s Nightmare, (bottom right) LuLuPa Hutong, Wood Cut, by Chinese, young artist Huang Kai.
AffordableArtFair_2014_4(top) Stitched Up by Katharine Morling (bottom left) Erica peruses the offerings from Uprise Art, an NYC-based collectors club (bottom right) Doublefaced No. 23 by Sebastian Bieniek. With eye-pencil and lipstick, Sebastian draws on the side of the model’s face creating portraits that are both humorous and somehow unsettling.

Way back in 1996, Will Ramsay opened Will’s Art Warehouse in southwest London to bridge the public’s increasing interest in contemporary art and London’s highbrow gallery scene. This eventually turned into the Affordable Art Fair. The founder explains, “I do not want art for a few any more than I want education for a few, or freedom for a few.” Here’s to art for everyone.

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The Affordable Art Fair

Shaking up the dusty model of art as an elite pastime, the Affordable Art Fair showcases new artists, galleries, and programming! Yesterday I was even treated to a Robert Blackburn printmaking station and workshop, free local beers from Heartland Brewery, cocktails by St. Germain, and knit wall installations (Renee Prisble, Orange Jelly, 2012, sweaters, polyfill, zip ties). Many wonderfully dressed individuals also descended onto 7 West 34th Street, 11th Floor and their sartorial whimsies were just as enjoyable as the art hanging.  The fair attempts to introduce the young or newbie collector with a series of tips from not-so-stuffy community. Some of these include:

  • Speak up! Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Exhibitors are happy to talk and this is a great way to get firsthand knowledge about the work and/or artist. When you are considering an artwork, ask about the artist, where they are from, how long they have been with the gallery, if their work is included in any major collections, or if the artist has won any public art prizes.
  • Budget! Budget! Budget! Know what you are willing to (and what you can) spend and stick to it!   If the piece that has caught your eye is out of your budget, ask if there are any other works by the same artist especially in a different medium. Original prints, such as screen prints and etchings, are a great entry-level option as they can be lower in price than a painting.
  • Look again-take your time-and follow your heart! Take some time out to have a drink or a snack  and think through your choices.
  • Come ready! Take time to think about what will work best in your space.  Do you need a large or small piece, something vertical or horizontal, will the work be exposed to a lot of sun, what colors will work best, who will be seeing the work (are you putting it in a bedroom or living room)?
  • And, most importantly HAVE FUN!!! ART IS FUN!! 
Oh hello! That’s me, rocking UGallery tote swag., one of the many exhibitors, is a funky tech start-up based in San Francisco that works in both original art and more affordable prints (via their Paperwork moniker). The gallery was nice enough to invite me (and a ‘plus’ +1) to the Private Preview. Because I am a modern woman, my plus one does not always strictly mean my boyfriend. Yesterday, my plus one was my wonderful friend Rishi. Rishi and I went to undergrad together where we both fell in love with Edward Said’s Orientalism and a shared sociology (AND American Studies AND International Affairs) professor, Melani McAllister. We have both relocated from Washington, DC to New York, NY. OK, rambling aside, Rishi was the perfect choice because we both enjoy free alcohol and the power of creation (art)! I knew he was the right choice when I realized that he hand needlepointed the belt he chose to wear to the event.

Clockwise from Top Left: Rishi rocking an Affordable Art Fair Tote, A detail from ‘Daniel John Gadd’s, Creature Fear II, 2011, oil and string on panel’, snapshots from the open artist studio, Mike Chavez’s ROTFLMAO, screenprint and acrylic on canvas, AND a phenomenal fascinator and matching earring set on a fellow visitor. 

 This is Engine Gallery’s booth displaying work by Raymond Waters. That Haute Couture is made with filmstrips from Citizen Kane (there was also a dress done with porn stills).

Dinah Dufton’s Child’s Play series from Will’s Art Warehouse.

Andrew Boder, Wolf 1-6, Acrylic on Paper on Panel, 2012 from Blunt Collective.

Eric Mistretta, When You Were This Big, 2011, Candles and House Paint on Panel

A whole new meaning in “dog collars”.

Christian Dorey’s take on Andy Warhol, Cool Hand Luke, Hunter S. Thompson, etc. Originally from Vancouver, Christian Dorey has been living in Montréal since 2001. Inspired by pop art, expressionism movement, music and cinema, intuition and political engagement well describe his work. He is represented by Arteria.

Clockwise from Top Left: Laura Murray, Inheritance, from Visual Arts Gallery/SVA, A general snapshot of the fair, Artist Pure Evil’s signature, Clinton Demenez‘s small scene shadowboxes are futuristic and apocalyptic, Ivar Theorin, Untitled (Ram), 2012, paper over armature.

Do not feed the artwork! Cecile Plaisance’s Barbie 1, 2012 from Envie D’Art Galerie.

Photorealism! Daryl Zang, Bliss, 2011, 32 x 48.

A detail of Rebecca Cole’s Comics 01 which is made using recycled comics, etymology pins, and hand cut butterfly silhouettes.

Vanessa Smith, Floor, Acrylic on Canvas from the Mark Jason Gallery.

Rachel Denny, Gazelle, 17″ x 9″ x 11″ from Portland Fine Art.

Three fashionable Affordable Art Fair goers, including Jean and Valerie from the fashion blog that “sets a bad example for older women”, Idiosyncratic Fashionistas.

What piece of art would YOU purchase? Most of the items were under $1,000 for originals, with the most expensive pieces just under the $10,000 mark.