Taking place at “The Tunnel” in Chelsea, the Affordable Art Fair presented contemporary works from over fifty vendors on October 2-6. Quite a different venue from their spring show at the Metropolitan Pavilion, the space at The Tunnel on 11th Avenue was constricting and the selection of works was lackluster at best.
The Affordable Art Fair is meant to encourage art-lovers of all economic means to discover and -hopefully- take home a special work of art for themselves. All art available for purchase ranges in price from as little as $100 to as much as $10,000. At most of the popular contemporary art fairs around town, you won't find anything in the hundred-dollar range, and more often than not, items are priced at well above the $100,000 mark. The AAF has become fairly popular in recent years, receiving over 1.2 million visitors to fairs since its inception in 1999. Traditionally held in the spring, the AAF has now celebrated its fourth anniversary of the fall show, here at the Tunnel. Other AAF exhibitions now take place around the globe at fifteen different times of year.
This fall, the first thing visitors saw when walking in was a jumble of couches, the check-in desk, a messy installation, and a “cube” of $500-and-under works that were clearly “cheap” for a reason. Also accosting the visitor at the entrance was The Art Dossier booth, where artist Chad Kouri presented cheaply-made round-cut aluminum with the words “Art Is All Over” written in boring black caps. While this may be the main point of these “limited editions” – to somehow prove that even boring art is still art – this defeats the purpose of art as a truly creative process and product.
Walk past the entrance and you discovered exhibitors from across the United Stated and around the world. London’s Eyestorm offered multicolored screen prints, Beijing’s China Print Art Gallery presented cartoon-like woodcuts, Vermont’s HAVOC Gallery in Burlington showed stainless steel wall sculptures and the Contempop Expressions Galleries from Tel Aviv in Israel had aerial photographs of various scenes.
Throughout the show, we saw many works with apparent influences from respected artists: Jasper Johns’ American references with a twist, Roy Lichtenstein’s cartoon dramatics, and Damien Hirst's use of nature and geometry were all represented in a few booths. Some of the most interesting works included a penned toy robot and mannequin by La Roc and small plaster bears glued and painted into an American flag by Stephane Gautier. Lawrence Fine Art from East Hampton presented a number of colorful works by La Roc, who happens to be the little-known teacher of pop artist Keith Haring. Across from the East Hampton booth was the Galerie Virginie Barrou Planquart from Paris, whose United Bears ed. 3 drew quite the crowd. Most of the works on view were unfortunately small and forgettable, quite unlike past editions of the fair.
To the Affordable Art Fair’s credit, the show organizers continued their tradition of educating art-lovers on purchasing art and hosted special talks and tours that highlighted artists, works and galleries. Children weren’t left out of the festivities either, and special weekend tours were available just for kids, as well as children’s fun packs and an activity wall. Their free art-wrapping and a delivery service were also available.
All artworks were below $10,000 with most offered at around $3000. While this year’s AAF was disappointing especially compared to other fairs this year like the new SPECTRUM just up the road, past experiences with AAF leave hope for next spring’s big fair.
Stay tuned for more art fair updates and let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!