This last Friday I spent the day with my friend Michelle Neifert in New York. We were there to support a slew of current and former Lehigh Valley artists including our colleagues and friends Ana Hamilton and Rigo Perlata at Art Expo New York 2016. This art fair, which is on a pier overlooking the Hudson River, featured hundreds of artists and galleries from around the world. Michelle and I went to the expo not only to support our friends but also to see if the whole thing was worth the very large fees to participate.
We arrived early on Friday after hanging out at my place in Allentown the night before. Here’s Michelle celebrating the cocktail hour or beer o’clock as we sometimes call it:
We got to town before the expo started so we thought we’d go to some galleries in Chelsea for the morning and walk the High Line uptown to the piers. We visited probably 10 to 15 galleries mostly in the 529 building on 20th street. We saw some pretty amazing things there, and of course some not so nice stuff. Here’s some of our favorite art and what galleries we found them at:
Two large works by the Italian artist SIRO on display at Dean Borghi Gallery
These are three of the more successful works in a very uneven show at Elizabeth Harris Gallery by the artist Thornton Willis for his show “Set Up”
Drawing by Tim Hawkinson at Pace Gallery for his show “Counterclockwise”
Sculpture by Tim Hawkinson at Pace Gallery for his show “Counterclockwise”
After our brief but productive gallery junket Michelle and I set off on a six mile trek uptown to the Art Expo piers on the Hudson. We walked mostly on the High Line and later on the equally beautiful Hudson River Park. Friday was a hot day, the first warm day of spring. Along the way we passed the majestic Intrepid, which dominated the riverfront both walking to and driving away from the expo, its that huge. Here’s Michelle standing in front of the aircraft carrier tracking calories and our distance-walked on her iPhone:
We finally reached the art expo piers around 1 pm that afternoon and visited Ana and Rigo. We happened upon two other former Lehigh Valley artists, Anthony Fearron and Arturo Cabrera now living in New Jersey and Manhattan respectively. My impression of the expo was that it was one large First Friday. Tickets to get into the expo was I think 60 dollars, an amount that one would think weed out tourists and folks not interested in buying . However I felt that folks just wanted to look. I did not see many sales of work but I did see hundreds of artists eager, even desperate for a sale to recoup their exhibition costs. The fair felt like crass capitalism at its finest, an open market place with few winners and lots of very talented well dressed nice and good-hearted losers. I felt some pity for these artists but also I felt impressed by their courage to even put themselves out their to be picked over by buyers looking essentially in my mind for interior design solutions for their fabulous apartments. Maybe that’s a little pessimistic, but I’ve already said in older blog posts that I believe art buyers have been undermined by years of poor arts education. This I feel leaves buyers with gut-response-purchase-decisions rather than choices made from experience and taste. In any case, as I said before the work was spectacular for the most part. My friends Ana and Rigo put up beautiful booths and received tons of home grown support over the 4-day event.. Here’s some pics of Ana and Rigo at Art Expo New York along with an excellent landscape from Ana on display in hr booth:
I believe an art fair may be in my future but only if I were affiliated with a gallery that participated in the fair and did sound marketing. Alone I think art fairs place too much pressure on individual artists to sale work and leaves them bereft if they can’t make one. Both my friends Rigo and Ana will be fine no matter the outcome but for me it would be devastating if at least a couple pieces did not sale after paying $3500 for a small booth.
I’ll close this pic heavy post now with a little “Blues for Bessie” from Bud Powell. I’ve been really into Bud Powell lately. Its makes for some excellent twilight easy listening on these warm spring nights.
Okay that’s it for now. Over the next few days look for me to blog about how things are fairing with my preparations for my residency in Vermont and my progress on my Pecks monoprint drawing series. Until then ….