May 5-12  was New York City Art Week. As expected, there were plenty of art fairs and gallery openings for anyone who wants to be inspired or learn about what today’s contemporary artists are creating.  I managed to attend three art fairs, all of them interesting and over the top with all kinds of messaging from climate change to reproductive rights, nuclear proliferation and just fun pieces that range from the peculiar to the outlandish.   I am happy to share the venues and photos of what seem to be trending these days….


First Why Art Fairs?

Art fairs are generally not curated. They are basically an exposition of up to 100 galleries from throughout the world intending to meet collectors to buy their work. Over the years, many of these fairs have opened up their shows to include artists who also sell their own work. Many of these art fairs also present a theme featuring an issue of interest or a special tribute to someone or an organization (s). Some are a bit disorganized, much like a bazaar, where others are more sophisticated, catering to blue chip heavyweights and investors. These fairs have both private and public viewings. The cost to attend the public viewing can range from $20- $65 unless a gallery invites you as their guest.  Art fairs attract a wide range of folks, from collectors to curators, influencers and art lovers like myself.

So what art fairs did I attend?

Frieze at the Shed

The NY Frieze Art Fair is one of the most high-end and over the top art shows.  It is now entering its 10th year anniversary having moved its location from Randall Island to the Shed near the new Hudson Yard district, which is a big disappointment.   The big white tent with plenty of indoor and outdoor dining opportunities on the island was so much more interesting and fun than what the Shed offers. This year, the Frieze paid tribute to several nonprofit art organizations that are making a difference in nurturing the next generation of artists.

 So what about the art?  Much of it was outlandish, some not as descriptive or easily understood.  Also, not as culturally diverse as I would like it to be.  The show provided a wider range of sculpture pieces and mixed media works.  One important note most of the art work has been sold prior to the public viewing.


1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair held at the Harlem Parish

This art fair is named after the 54 countries in Africa which started in London to support gallery owners seeking an audience interested in collecting African Art.  The Harlem Parish, a 20th century church (an ornate architectural wonder) showcased  25 international galleries.     The art show was a bit subdued, although the gallery owners were much more friendly and engaging.  Much of the artwork was from artists who are part of the African diaspora residing all over the world. The feature photograph in my newsletter is by Thandiwe Muriu, a photographer from Kenya. This photograph is part of her CAMO series where she “showcases Africa’s unique mix of vibrant culture textiles and beauty norms through her work where she celebrates her African heritage and tackles important issues such as identity and self-perception using the rich colors and vibrancy of the continent“.  If you would like to see more of her work, click here.

So what about the art? I found many of the art pieces to be bold, dramatic, rich and vibrant in their use of colors and texture. Many of the gallery owners were from Europe and Africa, friendly, and open to converse with you about the work and the artists.

NADA  Art Fair

 The NADA art show was held earlier in May and at Pier 36 near the East River. NADA stands for New Art Dealers Alliance, a nonprofit that showcases unique voices in contemporary art and culture. Its art fairs incorporate forums and event performances as part of their venues in support of encouraging robust conversations about trends in the art world and cultural changes led by emerging artists.   NADA Art fairs also invite and feature nonprofits that are engaged in art education as well as artists who are not part of a gallery.

So what about the art?  I also found this show to be refreshing, at times quirky, progressive, and upbeat.  Gallery owners and artists were more engaging, friendly and forward thinking.

 The next New York art fair that is on my calendar is the Armory Art Fair – September 9-11, in case you are interested in attending.  Museums are always another option for the remaining summer months.   I have written several stories on art fairs. This link will take you to one that list some of the most popular art fairs both in the USA and internationally in case you are interested and are planning to visit these cities in the coming years. 

From all three shows, I have posted photos of works that I most liked, found interesting or imaginative. Photos are in the same order as the narrative. Just click the center of the photo for a full view.

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