The Affordable Art Fair has earned its reputation as a forum for access and discovery, welcoming existing art collectors and newcomers alike through its doors in the spirit of contemporary art. With its 11 fairs worldwide, it has established its international brand unabashedly—greeted by the fair’s vibrant fuchsia logo and energetic crowds, one is immediately inspired to participate in the process of discovering what unique artworks have been presented by the 75+ exhibitors at this season’s fair.
Though “affordability” may be a relative condition, the Affordable Art Fair prides itself on an entry-level price point by art world standards (artworks are priced between $100 and $10,000) that has long yielded an enthusiastic and bustling atmosphere of culture seekers, aspiring collectors, and established patrons alike. The transparency is refreshing considering the opacity of the traditional art market.
Kicking off its 20th anniversary year in New York City, the Affordable Art Fair will open its doors to newly-appointed fair director Erin Schuppert’s debut edition. “The Affordable Art Fair has a long history across the globe of acting as a critical entry-point for curious art-goers and new collectors seeking access to the contemporary art market,” Schuppert states. “I hope to inspire confidence and enthusiasm for collectors as they discover beautiful art while supporting the artists and galleries who make up our vibrant arts community.”
Beyond the fair’s commitment to access, and aptly timed to Women’s History Month, Schuppert spoke with A Women’s Thing to provide her exclusive picks one mustn’t miss when visiting the fair this week.
Her seven stand-out artworks by female artists at the Spring fair include:
1. Michele Landel
“Michele Landel’s series For There She Was takes its name from the last line of Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway and examines the physicality of womanhood and gender roles as women persistently speak up about their pain and trauma. The figures, one seemingly a shadow of the other with their faces covered by fabric, are both imposing and vulnerable. I think that duality of feeling simultaneously on display and erased probably resonates with a lot of women.”
“The work of Marie-Josè focuses on surrealist Black portraiture and the ways emotions can affect our reality. This painting grapples with the dichotomous relationship between the desire to keep memories of the past alive and the necessity to move forward into the future.”
3. Mary Finlayson
“The flattened perspective of Mary Finlayson’s interiors convey a sense of intimacy and constructed abstraction. I particularly love the use of India ink, which gives the scene a lushness as well.”
4. Marion Piper
“I am attracted to the movement in this work by Marion Piper. The clean, geometric lines and shapes in bold colors juxtaposed against the smoky, marbled neutral background makes the piece feel unsettling in a satisfying way.”
5. Parsley Steinweiss
“Parsley Steinweiss uses layered photographs to investigate the differences between our perception and reality. Looking at her work feels like trying to unlock a memory or define an emotion. To me, this particular piece evokes the golden hour, that moment when you’re full of anticipation about the strange things that could happen as night falls, but you’re also reminiscing about the warmth of the day you’re leaving behind.”
6. Dede Johnston
“While Dede Johnston is probably better known for her aerial photographs of alpine ski slopes and resorts, as a Floridian, I like to be reminded of warmer weather, especially during the New York winters. This image of a crowded beach with clear blue water makes me feel instantly happy and at home.”
In concluding our conversation with Schuppert, we were advised not to miss a site-specific installation entitled “Safe Space” by the vibrant and visionary Brooklyn-based artist Traci Johnson (they/them) that will be presented at the fair’s entrance. The exhibition is part of the fair’s ongoing Young Artist Exhibition program, curated this season by Arts Gowanus.
7. Traci Johnson
“Traci Johnson’s work speaks to issues surrounding safety and social trauma. Their soft-sculptures rendered whimsically in warping form and bold color create a respite from the pressures of contemporary society,” states Schuppert. “Their work also references the fair’s long-term interest in art as a tool for therapy, for personal expression in the face of trauma or disability. We’ve been longtime partners with the nonprofit Art Therapy Project through whom I became exposed to the Affordable Art Fair before joining the team in a leadership capacity.”
Affordable Art Fair New York opens with a special Private View on Wednesday, March 23 from 6–9 p.m. The fair remains open to the public through Sunday, March 27. For tickets and information, please visit affordableartfair.com/new-york-spring or follow @affordableartfairNYC on Instagram.