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Affordable Art Fair's cocktail party: A toast to artistic curiosity

Athena Calderone, Kelly Framel, Nate Berkus, Cristina Salmastrelli, and Zachary Lynd
Athena Calderone, Kelly Framel, Nate Berkus, Cristina Salmastrelli, and Zachary Lynd
Jonathon Ziegler/Patrick McMullan

This past Wednesday, Nate Berkus and NY Fair Director Cristina Salmastrelli hosted a cocktail party at the Gilded Lily in the Meatpacking District in honor of Affordable Art Fair’s upcoming Spring Fair. Other notable guests who came to support the event included Jeremiah Brent, Douglas Friedman, Athena Calderone, and Connor Hill, among others. Nate Berkus, as the official interior design speaker at Affordable Art Fair this April, will be sharing his decorating tips and participate in a Q&A session. He offered the following quote regarding his involvement with AAF: “As a designer, I’m always empowering people to live beautifully through their design choices, which is why the mission of the Affordable Art Fair really resonates with me. Art is just so important in design, in your home, in life. It’s great that AAF makes it so accessible because everyone should own art that they love.”

Cristina Salmastrelli was also able to share with me some great insights about AAF. Here’s an inside look at our interview:

How do you go about selecting the artists/galleries for the fair? What kind of criteria do you have? We have a group, a committee that really is focused on the selection process. Basically, galleries apply, and they represent artists in their applications and we go through all of the applications and all those artists. We’re different than other art fairs in the idea that…we are a lifestyle fair, and we come to you. We want to fit in the city’s lifestyle that we’re in. We have 17 fairs in 14 different cities every single year. What I focus on and what the committee focuses on is what is right for New Yorkers. What’s important to us is that we really think of the diversity of the city, who is living in it, and what they would like. We try to have something for everyone, but always with New Yorkers as our main focus.

What excites you the most about planning AAF? The idea of learning. There’s something you’re always doing differently in your job and you’re constantly learning something new. I’m so lucky to see new galleries, emerging galleries, new artists, established galleries bringing a completely new collection of artists at each fair. For me, that I get to see more new things. I get to see the trends that are happening at Affordable Art Fair and in the art world. I've also been extremely lucky to travel to see what other Affordable Art Fairs are doing...what’s hot in Asia, and outside of New York. My favorite part is bringing back the new knowledge I have and bringing it to the public.

The Met Pavilion continues to be the hosting venue for AAF in New York. How did you go about picking the venue? Why do you enjoy it so much? It’s just a great location. It’s in’s so easy to get to. We have two floors at the Metropolitan Pavilion this Spring. We have 60 galleries on the main floor and then on the 2nd floor, we have 20 galleries that are totally dedicated to emerging, period. It’s either emerging galleries or established galleries bringing emerging artists. So really we’re doing a nod to the next’s a great focus. On the 2nd floor, we have the programming lounge and the cafe of course. It’s a beautiful venue and we’re lucky to be there.

What other upcoming initiatives/events is AAF participating in? We are very lucky because...we put on a lot of initiatives and a lot of events. Just even focused on the Spring fair, we have our private view on Wednesday night, at which you can be the first person to see the art. We also have this new thing we’re doing called AAF after Dark on Thursday night from 8 to 10 o’clock. It’s a night event where you can come have a glass of champagne...the music is a little bit more upbeat, kind of like the nightlife, and then you’re just seeing the art. If you’re not really into nightlife, we have children’s workshops which are for families on Saturday and Sunday. We are lucky to have this artist, Paula Brett, being featured with Elisa Contemporary Art, a local gallery. Paula does all of her artwork with candy and she arranges all these pieces of candies with different colors and all these different shapes and she takes a picture of it. She’ll speak about her art and the kids will listen. Then, we have a whole bunch of candies so that kids and the families together can make a piece of art. The idea of Affordable Art Fair is to provide a balance as well. To have people come in for different talks. We have an artist panel happening. All of the recent graduates will have a panel as well. We want to be a one stop shop. We want you to come, have a drink, have some food, listen to a lecture or a talk, especially our most favorite, Nate Berkus, who will have a talk on Thursday at 6:30. So you can come hear him…talk about interior design and then you can fall in love with a piece of art and bring it home!

What a great treat to speak with Cristina. Be sure to check out the Affordable Art Fair coming up on April 3-6!

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