Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Affordable Art Fair Seattle Debuts with Carefully Curated Collection of International Work

The art world has changed.  The current state of the economy has altered the way people buy art.  Artists no longer need to show in a gallery to attract a collectorship, and many galleries now struggle to sell pieces that set people back thousands upon thousands of dollars.  Since the pomposity once associated with the art world has become passé (at least to those 40 and younger), to utter the word "affordable" is no longer taboo.  It's actually become cool to be associated with the affordable art movement.  Sparked from the idea that all people should have access to art, industry leaders are hitting home the idea that innovative, insightful high-quality art doesn't have to cost a fortune.   Luckily for Pacific Northwest art lovers on all budgets, Affordable Art Fair made it even easier to take home amazing art at great prices with its debut last weekend at the Seattle Center Exhibition Hall.
Sculptures by Nicole Harper of
Michelle Y Williams Gallery
(Photo: Paul Niemi)
A Variety of Works Available
from Traver Gallery, Seattle
(Photo: Paul Niemi)
I wasn't sure what to expect from Affordable Art Fair Seattle. In addition to a fantastic and comprehensive guide on how to buy art, the official site for the Fair gave a nice list of participating galleries, and I was able to research and see work by some of the featured artists in advance. But, having the opportunity to experience the art first-hand on Thursday night was something totally different. The set-up was vibrant, hip and alive with excitement.  The preview party overlapped with a press event. The evening's festivities attracted a wide variety of people including the usual display of scruffy artistic hipsters, artist wannabes, executives and their wives, seasoned benefactors, flamboyant men draped in fur and every manner of mover and shaker in Seattle. Kisses were blown, chins were intellectually scratched, names were dropped, but in the end, everyone seemed to be ultimately connecting in an intimate way over art.  All in all, the night was devoid of attitude, which was a refreshing change of pace for large art shows of this genre.  
Will Ramsay, the brain behind Affordable Art Fairs, which has its main office in the United Kingdom, has mounted similar events in the London, New York and Mexico City. Seattle rounds out the 2012 show calendar followed by Singapore and Germany. Jennifer Jacobs is the Director of Affordable Art Seattle.
Visitors to Affordable Art Fair Seattle
Leave Preview Party at the Seattle
Center Exhibition Hall on November 8
(Photo: Paul Niemi) 
Affordable Art Fair Seattle did a great job of offering something for everyone.   "Affordable" is a term that means different things to different people, but prices for work ranged from as little as $100 all the way up to $10,000. From paintings, to print, sculpture, clay and metalwork and pieces made from paper and wood, there was a carefully (dare I use that ubiquitous word) 'curated' collection of art in various sizes, shapes and textures.
When it comes to art, the first rule should be to buy what you like. That rule has served me well in building a high quality unique and diverse collection. Affordable Art Fair Seattle provided the spectator the opportunity to discover many intriguing treasures that almost anyone would find appealing. I might also add that while the idea of an art fair might be intimidating to some unfamiliar with the protocol, this fair was very 'user-friendly' and, for the most part, gallery owners, staff and artists were generous with their time. They were eager to explain the work on view, and I gained an appreciation for items that might not have spoken to me initially. 
Sheila Coppola Apprentice Wynne Pei
Demonstrates the Intaglio Printing Process
of a Piece by Dale Chihuly
(Photo: Paul Niemi) 
The gem of the fair, in my opinion, was the printmaking studio.  Intaglio and relief printing is an exciting art form, and master printer Sheila Coppola of Sidereal Fine Art Press, along with her apprentice Wynne Pei showed just how cool it is.  On Thursday evening, they demonstrated the printing process of a six-color, sugar lift and aquatint intaglio and relief print by Dale Chihuly. Additionally, Coppola called upon artists, including Claire Cowie, with whom she had previously worked, to create images that Coppola printed and displayed in the printmaking studio.  I was told that a limited number of prints were made and each artist would then decide if they wanted to offer them up for sale at the Fair.
Some of the artists on my personal wish list are Claire Cowie, Sarah Bienvenu, Jenny Honnert Abell, Daniel Ochoa, Nicole Harper, Rick Araluce, Tom DeGroot, and Jamie Walker.  The Traver Gallery of Seattle is home to the work of many artists whom I found incredibly inspiring.  It was also fun to connect with the folks from Santa Fe's Winterowd Fine Art, especially since I just returned to the Northwest after spending the last three years in New Mexico. 
Affordable Art Fair Seattle, which ran November 9-11, inspired my senses and got my blood pumping.   WATCH A BRIEF VIDEO highlighting some of my picks from the fair HERE:


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