As New York’s Artexpo art fair celebrated its 39th installment, thousands of gallerists, art patrons, artists, and art entrepreneurs attended the four-day show looking to buy, sell, and showcase art. Artexpo New York 2017 was attended by 30,000 art enthusiasts, including 4,500 industry buyers.
Held at Pier 94 on 54th and 12th avenue in Manhattan, Artexpo was held from Friday, April 21 to Monday, April 24. Reminiscent of another major creative event, the fair was as bright and colorful as New York City’s Comic Con, only this fair featured extraordinary fine art, live demonstrations, and more.
The Jackson Pollack smattering of people included more than 400 exhibitors, highlighting their original prints, paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, ceramics, giclee, lithographs, glass works, and much more. So much more that it was impossible to see what treasures lay inside each booth in just a day, and hardly as much over the course of the weekend. Visitors from over forty countries representing nearly every continent on earth were in attendance, and by Sunday, there were in excess of $1 million in sales, with more sales still pending.
“Each year, thousands of art aficionados and industry insiders flock to Artexpo New York in search of art that will shape trends in galleries worldwide, and this year was no different,” said Eric Smith, president and CEO of Redwood Media Group. “The success of this year’s Artexpo New York makes us excited to plan for the 2017 show.” And plan they did, as the art fair was successfully implemented without a hitch.
Art expo New York 2017 included three shows under one roof: Artexpo New York, the world’s largest fine art trade show; SOLO, highlighting established and emerging independent artists; and FOTO SOLO, featuring fine art photography from some of the world’s finest abstract, contemporary, and realist photographers. Attendees had the chance to browse thousands of innovative new works of art and enjoy cocktail parties, live entertainment, and other special events. The fair also featured the Topics & Trends Education program—four days of complimentary seminars and conference classes offering expert perspectives on subjects ranging from art and the economy, small business management, and art marketing to social media for artists, design and decor trends, and more.
International Exhibitors Reported Good Traffic But Sluggish Sales
Lorena Parada, a sales representative at the Gallery Jorge Jurado Art Studio in Bogota, Colombia, noted that fair organizers had misspelled her country’s name on their booth, but was otherwise pleased with the art fair’s organization. “We are attending Artexpo because we want more visibility for our artists,” said Parada. “We are also hoping to connect to international galleries and the public while expanding our operations internationally.” The Gallery Jorge Jurado Art Studio featured artists Angelica Casasfranco, Cristina Gutierrez, Javier Marten, Alessandra Sequeira, and Maria Eugenia Trujillo. Jurado described the fair as contemporary, varied, and popular.
The gallery, hoping to learn more about the international art market, attended Artexpo for the first time this year, and their participation marked their entrance into the U.S. art fair landscape. They hope to also attend Art Santa Fe, Miami Red Dot, and San Diego Artexpo this year. “We have been getting good traffic, about 20-30 people an hour. I am really surprised by the community here,” Jurado said, adding that “the gallery has mostly been running into past buyers, though.”
Greg Creason and Caroline Morgan of Creason’s Fine Art Gallery in New Orleans, Louisiana also made their debut at Artexpo this year. “We have heard great things about the fair and we wanted to see it for ourselves,” said Morgan. The gallerists have attended other New York art fairs, including the Hampton Art Fair and the Affordable Art Fair, in addition to fairs closer to their geographic locale, like Art Santa Fe.
Morgan said that traffic has been good, but Creason clarified that traffic has been slower than they thought it would. As of Sunday, they hadn’t made a sale, despite it tending to be the best day to close transactions. Morgan described the fair as fun, busy, and eclectic. She added, “There’s so much to see, but I’m here at the booth.”
Artist Ren Shao, a Chinese artist now based in Brooklyn, lamented the lack of attendance at the fair. “I keep hearing people say that last year there were a lot more people. I think the rain really affected things. A lot of little things go into the sale of art and weather plays a role,” Shao said. She noted that most people just came by to ask the price of her work. Her father, Ren Wei-Yin, is a world-renowned artist in China, but she noted that the art world is getting tougher and tougher for painters. The lesson she learned from Artexpo was nonetheless valuable: She estimates that patrons at the fair prefer loud, colorful, and playful work, and plans to consider that when making new work.
Their comments highlight the importance of not only having a presence at the art fair but engaging in substantial marketing and outreach efforts prior to attending the show.
Other noteworthy exhibitors included galleries from all over the world, including Canada, France, Lebanon, Austria, and Germany. Maison Louis Jadot, one of the most renowned Burgundy Houses, is a premium sponsor of the show and the exclusive wine sponsor.
Art Talks and Artist Partnerships Drove the Conversation at Artexpo
The Spotlight Artist program offered a focused look at several cutting-edge artists and galleries, and an opportunity for new and emerging artists to display a more dedicated presence at the art fair. This year, the artists selected were Paul Brandejs (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), Dwight Baird (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), Vlad Korol (Paris, France), Junaid Sénéchal-Senekal (Knysna, Garden Route, South Africa) and Diane Fontaine (Gatineau, Quebec, Canada).
Art talks also offered attendees an inside look at the artistic experience by way of panel discussions, conversations, and provocative artistic discourse with leading artists, curators, designers, gallerists, and art industry professionals. ‘Meet the Artist’ sessions immersed the audience in conversation with participating artists, giving attendees the opportunity to learn about each artist’s inspiration, story, and medium. In many cases, the artist also did a live demonstration, creating his or her next work of art.
The Topics & Trends educational series comprised four days of complimentary seminars and conference classes offering expert perspectives on a variety of subjects, ranging from art and the economy, small business management, and art marketing to social media for artists, design and decor trends, and more.
This year’s topics included a variety of business development and marketing seminars, reflecting the ever-growing importance of developing business know-how in order to achieve success as a commercial artist or art entrepreneur. Seminars included The Hidden Path of the Career Artists, which aimed to de-mystify the process of selling art for emerging artists; and Understanding Art Licensing, which offered strategic advice for licensing artistic works.
Attendees even had the chance to view the unveiling of the winning original artwork of this year’s Artexpo New York Poster Challenge winner, Worlds Unite, by Juan Luis Perez. Born in Havana, Cuba, in 1970, Perez is a self-taught artist who has lived all over the world, including Spain, France, Italy, Argentina, Brazil, and the United States. Having immersed himself in many different cultures, Perez has a unique perspective on the human experience and strives to explore people’s commonalities and differences in his work. The Poster Challenge theme for 2017 was “Harmony” and the contest garnered more than 400 entries.
Artists and art entrepreneurs also had an opportunity to partner with presenting sponsors on VIP installations. ACJ Nimbus, the latest cloud-creativity of internationally renowned artist Berndnaut Smilde and professional photographer RJ Muna, made its debut at Artexpo New York, where they exhibited for the first time. “Creating ‘clouds in rooms’ is part of my passion for exploring the creativity of spaces, so it was intriguing when Airbus Corporate Jets proposed using it as a twist on the ‘putting rooms in clouds,’ which it does,” said Smilde.
“The challenge was to capture an ephemeral and living artwork, lasting only a few seconds, in a way that echoed elegance, space, and relaxation,” adds Muna, who attended the art fair. They were displayed in the VIP Lounge at Artexpo New York, and later at other high-end VIP events. Creative agency Publicis led the project for Airbus Corporate Jets, which is the exclusive presenting partner of the fair. The scenes were shot in London.
While Artexpo is arguably Redwood Media Group’s largest and best-attended fair, the company has made significant investments in attracting collectors from across the country. The art fair remains an important, if not indispensable, selling opportunity for galleries and art entrepreneurs. But, as many interviewed demonstrated, proper marketing and outreach is crucial for success – otherwise, you may just get lost in the crowd.
Did you attend Artexpo art fair in New York? What did you think?