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Staten Island, New York, United States

Friday, May 13, 2011

Visiting the Affordable Art Fair on Mother's Day

I checked out the Affordable Art Fair on Sunday, Mother's Day.  It was a delight. There was definitely a more casual and approachable vibe than, say SCOPE or the Red Dot Art Fair. The work was not as slick and commercially-focused as in those other shows. It may not have been as ambitious in a careerist way, but felt more authentic to me, closer to the artist's heart. It was also good to see groups of recent art school graduates represented. Their art held its own. 

The fair was held at 7 W. 34th St, NYC.This was the same location as the One of a Kind Show and Sale that I attended last winter.  It may not be fair to compare the two, since One of a Kind was not strictly fine art. However, the traffic was definitely heavier at the Affordable Art Fair and the vendors were cheerier as a result. The fact that it was a sunny Mother's Day probably helped traffic, too. The venue is across the street from the Empire State Building and close to Macy's, so it's definitely on the tourist circuit, although not at street level.

The fair had a surprising number of representatives from the UK. I understand the founder of the event is British and there was a beneficial arrangement for them as a group. The work represented they brought with them had a lot of appeal for me. One of my personal favorites was work by Frances Murray. She did gorgeous earthen carborundum monoprints in units that could be arranged as the viewer chose. They seemed so much more sculpture than print to me.

The fair was very feminist-friendly (yay!), which also makes me a big fan. The women's co-op galleries were represented; A.I.R., Ceres, SOHO20 Chelsea Gallery. The Feminist Art Project at Rutgers University was selling a portfolio of work by famous feminist artists as a fundraising tool. Several of the artists represented by the Bernice Steinbaum Gallery in the '80's when I worked there had work in the portfolio; Harmony Hammond, Miriam Schapiro, and Faith Ringgold. I was lucky enough to go on to become a studio assistant to both Miriam and Faith, two heroines of mine. But that story is for another time.

As you might guess, there was quite a lot of unframed work available at each booth.

I think being frank about prices, even listing work by price point in the printed guide, puts one at ease and removes an obstacle for a nascent collector. 

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