The month of May is when the Big Apple is celebrating its Art Week, stretching it from May 5th through 22nd, where museums, galleries and art fairs come together to share the best of what the art world offers. For art lovers, this is a great time for a spring break or a weekend stay in NYC when the weather is generally at its best behavior. I managed to attend three art fairs on the last weekend of this extravaganza before it ended. Here’s what I like and didn’t much care for….

But First, What I Like About Art Fairs

Art fairs are about exposing audiences to an imaginary world documented on canvas or molded into some strange or unique sculptural piece. It’s a window into exploring what is trending among both emerging and seasoned artists throughout the world. But more than anything, it’s about inspiration and the power of creativity. You mostly walk away feeling a bit optimistic, even when we know the world is in pretty bad shape.

So, What About This Year’s Art Fairs?

Frieze Art Fair

We attended first the Frieze Art Fair, now housed at the Shed near the popular Hudson Yards district. Generally, this art fair has up to 100 international and local galleries. This year it only had 68, a sign of the economy and the cooling off of what has been a hot art market. This art fair is also where art works average between $15,000 and $100,000+ although, prices were down. Admission to the fair was pricey at $70- $90 a person. Frieze is in its third year at the Shed, and I continue to find this venue a poor substitute compared to the site at Randall Island, which is more appealing. My photos are of what I found to be compelling and different from previous shows.

Overall, I thought this year’s fair was more interesting than last year. I really enjoyed the diversity of sculpture pieces shown this year. I especially loved New York artist Matthew Ronay’s 24-foot-long dramatic sculpture. As a lover of abstract art, I found Matthew’s transition from drawings to three-dimensional figures captivating. His pieces easily resemble stomach organs or some organic stretchy fungus that reminds me of using Play-Doh. My photos are of just one of his works. However, if you like to see more of his artwork, click here.

Kudos to the Coalition For The Homeless for its annual Special Plate Project. This year, 42 renowned contemporary artists created dinner plates with their signature work. Each limited-edition plate is priced at $250 and feeds 100 homeless people. If you are interested in supporting this cause by purchasing some amazing art, click here before they are all gone.

The NADA Art Fair (New Art Dealer’s Alliance)

I always enjoy the NADA art fair because it focuses on emerging galleries and artists with a more multicultural grassroots vibe (folks are also friendlier). The prices of many of their works are below $10,000. Its membership is open to artists, galleries and nonprofit art groups, both local and global. They recently opened a permanent home for ongoing exhibitions in New York City, besides exhibiting at Miami’s Art Basel in December. However, this year’s show was not their best. I found many of the exhibits confusing. Nothing that particularly wowed me. (I wasn’t the only one that came to this conclusion). This clearly was not a good year compared to others. This may be related to the slowdown of the economy since having a presence at the show can be costly for smaller galleries or emerging artists.

1-54  Africa Contemporary Art Fair(reference to the fifty-four countries that make up the African continent)

 This show was held in Harlem again and was our last stop at 4:00 PM. This is the smallest of the three art fairs, with less than 30 galleries. Yet it never disappoints.  1-54 is an international art fair dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora. The art fair is held annually in London, New York and Marrakech. The gallery owners are a combination of local, European and international galleries representing emerging and outstanding visual artists from Africa. This year, the art fair was well stocked with amazing pieces that draw on the use of vibrant colors and fabrics. We even got to see Susan Sarandon, who was walking in as we were leaving. The last 13 photos represent the work of this uniquely specialized art fair. In fact, African Diaspora Art is only likely to grow as the world becomes more culturally diverse.

 Final Note: This year’s New York Art Week produced 9 art fairs, a design show at Javits Convention Center, and many new exhibitions held at museums and design schools. Way too much for anyone to see during a week or weekend stay. The best part is that you have options on what inspire you. I for one next year, will take a break from my yearly excursions to NYC to attend art fairs, as I plan to travel for the next several years, hopefully discovering other art venues on the way. Remember to click the center of the photos for a full view.

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