The Affordable Art Fair

Posted on November 21, 2012, 5:21 pm
5 mins


Art is—or rather should be—accessible to everyone.

Unfortunately for the middle- to low-income earning public, original art has long been perceived as a luxury good that only the more financially fortunate acquire. It is, after all, not cheap to pay artists a living wage for works that take hours upon hours to make and to keep the lights on in the galleries that represent them. For the middle-income art enthusiast, some home decor stores offer artwork that is mass-produced and of questionable quality. Such works may originate in Chinese sweat shops where painters are paid a pittance to reproduce art en masse, but consumers may fall prey to marketing that portrays them as authentic works by a well-supported artist. No one really wants to have a poor quality laser print or replica when they could have an original hanging in their living room wall, but many wonder if they can ever afford truly original works.

A Private Memory by Joyce Gehl is from a collection at the Patricia Rovzar Gallery

This begs the question: Is the art market doing enough to cultivate public enthusiasm for procuring art? Sadly, some galleries have long cultivated an air of inaccessibility and the majority of people are wary about stepping into one. Even if all galleries were to become more open and accessible, this negative perception in the public would not change overnight. So how does one go about finding the right pieces for one’s home?

One way that enthusiasts can procure an original is the art fair. Art fairs are characteristically on a large scale with booths dedicated to individual artists. The artist is usually available to meet and greet the public in an atmosphere more relaxed than a museum and gallery, providing insight and education for visitors who want to be art savvy but are not yet.

Fraternity is a photo compilation on a lettuce and aluminum frame by Robert Bery

Art is subjective and that, to me, is part of its great appeal. If an artwork evokes and stirs emotion in you or if you feel you have made a connection with it in some way, then usually this art is for you and that it may not be for others should not matter. One’s relationship with art—in general or an individual piece—will change over time, but like any good relationship the changes will signify twists and turns in one’s life. With each significant phase in one’s life the art that one acquires can represent personal growth and in the end the art you own can almost tell a story—your life story.

So if you’re not in the know about how to start an art collection, how to acquire an original piece or where to go to purchase one, the art fair seems like the perfect place to start.

From November 8-11 Seattle’s Exhibition Hall ran its annual Affordable Art Fair. It was a quality venue with well and lesser known artists showcasing their work together. The art on display was contemporary and unique with many sculptures, prints and originals for reasonable prices. The ceiling price was $10,000, but half of the works were priced under $5,000—to as low as $50.

Jaq Chartier’s Summer Infusion. Acrylic, stains and spray paint on wood. This piece was in the higher price range.

Many Seattle galleries showcased current work at the Affordable Art Fair, including Patricia Rovzar Gallery, Prole Drift, Robert Yoder, Patricia Cameron Gallery, Linda Hodges Gallery, Friesen Abmeyer Fine Art, James Harris and the G. Gibson Gallery to name a few.

The Affordable Art Fair is a traveling fair with stops around the world. It may just do something to break down the invisible wall between artist and buyer, building and maintaining new audiences for art, and that has to be worth celebrating.

For more information about the Affordable Art Fair please visit their website: