The Affordable Art Fair, which took place two weekends ago, March 25-29, at the Metropolitan Pavilion in downtown New York City, recently released their post-fair press release, which boasts that this spring, the fair had it’s best edition yet. Indeed, if you happened to have walked along West 18th Street, you probably would have seen quite a few #ArtHappy individuals with AAF bags or large wrapped packages under their arms. Inside the fair, every person you passed had a smile on his face, and a long line for the complimentary art packaging kept growing as the days continued.
The press release notes 19,000 visitors to the fair this March – “the highest number of visitors in fair history.” More than 750 artworks were offered for sale in the two-story space, from over 70 exhibitors and many more artists. Exhibiting galleries came from all over the world including London, Tel Aviv, Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., Bangkok, and San Francisco. Although the fair had fewer exhibitors this year than last, it still saw a 7% increase in sales. People of all ages and backgrounds visited the fair, including families with young children and new collectors, who could have found artworks for as little as $25 apiece.
The fair was particularly exciting this year as all the works offered were unique and showed the talent of the artists and the thought they put into each piece. It was obvious how each artist respected the institution of art and art history, and used those traditional values to transform their pieces into creative yet contemporary dialogues between art viewer and art creator. Here is examiner’s top five list of the best works on view:
- Craig Alan’s “Miss Prim” is lovely creative depiction of a young girl’s white dress. The top of the collared dress is painted on to a windowed display case, and the bottom half of the dress is a collage of paper butterflies that can bee seen through the window of the case. Displayed at the back of Lawrence Cantor Fine Art’s booth, it’s companion piece featured a young boy’s outfit, similarly created with painted top and a shorts bottom collage of more boy-like natural items, like sticks and leaves. This pair of artworks was one of the most creative pieces on display in the entire fair and so enjoyable to look at. It would go perfectly in the bedrooms of a young boy and girl. It was offered at $9200 each.
- Kwanoo Lee’s “Condensation” is a large work measuring more than three feet tall and made entirely of Korean stamps. An image of a buddha-like figure, the work portrays just a head with downcast eyes and top bun on a red background. The image is made from the compilation of various small gray and red-colored Korean block stamps that each have different Korean symbols on them. This is one of those works that has to be looked at closely to be better appreciated. It was offered on the upper level of the fair space, by Able Fine Art Gallery in New York and priced at $10,000.
- Piero Manrique’s “Awaken Peaks” drew quite a bit of attention alongside many of his other works on view both for UGallery.com and for the Amazon Art booth. As the artist-in-residence at the Affordable Art Fair, Manrique showed off his skills by live-painting a number of different works, including a large-scale installation on the second floor. Manrique uses color and texture to create vivid artworks that capture the eye instantly. “Awaken Peaks” is an image of snow-covered mountain peaks that is painted perfectly at the left side of the painting, but then turns into a sweep of color and rough paint on the right-hand side of the painting – so much texture is there that it almost seems like the paint itself is rising off of the canvas in little mountain peaks themselves. UGallery offered this work at $1100.
- John Kenny’s “Portraits of Africa” is a beautiful collection of photographs of indigenous Africans in tribal garb. Each black and white digital C-print is of a man or a woman, each wearing headpieces like thick braided wigs or turbans, layered beaded necklaces or other jewelry, and a shawl or other light item of clothing. Each face stares out defiantly at the viewer with eyes that belie strong proud people. Kenny’s collection documents the cultures of many African nations across the continent, from Namibia to Kenya, Ethiopia to Angola. The photographs were offered by London’s Capital Culture Gallery.
- Jane Perkins’s “Japanese Bridge” is a work of art that looks like an actual painting from far away, but upon closer inspection, is actually a compilation of found objects. Perkins is known for her replication of famous paintings – like Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” or, in this case, Monet’s “The Japanese Footbridge” in collage form. In this particular piece, you’ll be able to find buttons and beads, a puzzle piece, a plastic spoon and knife, a few green plastic Army men, a toy dinosaur, a crocodile, a car, and a Lego piece. Perkins obviously has fun with her works and encourages viewers to do the same. This work was offered for $3995 by Will’s Art Warehouse in London.
There were so many more great works for sale, and many of them at such low prices, it would be hard to choose just one to take home. The greatest strength of the Affordable Art Fair is its variety of tasteful, creative works – not just art created for art’s sake, but art that you would actually want to hang on your living room wall and have visitors look at and contemplate. If you missed the spring edition of the fair, another one pops up in September at the same location. Be prepared for many more fantastic artists displaying their thoughtful, contemporary creations. If you made it to this year’s fair, let us know what you thought by responding below or tweeting @egyptologist.