Welcome Collectors

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If you’re in the market for art, galleries don’t exactly make buying easy. The price is rarely marked on the wall, and to find it, or talk about it, you often have to hunt down someone in a back room, Wizard of Oz-style, or approach the unapproachable assistant at the desk. It’s as if you’re going to ruin the whole art appreciating experience by asking “How much?”

But tonight and through Sunday, the annual Affordable Art Fair [AAF] has arrived to make even the most gallery-shy comfortable about collecting. It might seem counterintuitive to part with $20 so that you can buy affordable art, but the entrance fee gives you access to international galleries (including five from Brooklyn) that sell work predominantly priced between $100-$5,000, a range that is impossible to find at other fairs — and, thankfully, the gallery owners and prices are all in plain sight. Tickets also grant you admission to panels like “Building Your Own Art Empire in a Recession,” “America’s Next Top Artist,” and a Children’s Art Studio so Moms can browse in peace (they also get in free on Mother’s Day!).

Year round of course, almost every gallery in Brooklyn makes it easy to begin collecting on a budget – as do events like the SONYA Studio Stroll (advertised to your right), BAM’s silent auction, Wiilamsburg’s 2nd Friday’s, Dumbo’s First Thursday Gallery walk, Bushwick’s many festivals.

So where should you begin? Four local gallery directors and curators share their pearls of wisdom for the novice collector, below:
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BB Link: Our friends at Edible Brooklyn are hosting yet another fab event next Wednesday, May 13. From Chardonnay to Merlot, chocolates to bbq, Brooklyn Uncorked 2009 is a chance to sample Long Island wines and Brooklyn fare at the BAMCafe. The seventh reader to correctly answer the following question wins a pair of tickets: What neighborhood is Brooklyn’s last seltzer works located in? Email us to enter. Tickets and a list participating vineyards and restaurants available here. [Update: We have a winner, and an answer: Gomberg Seltzer Works in Canarsie. But you can still get tickets here:
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Like the Spice Gallery
224 Roebling St., Williamsburg
Gallery director Marisa Sage has a policy at Like the Spice — “Every single person gets greeted. My gallery is like a perpetual art fair. We want to talk about the art, so everyone greets you when you walk in, and the staff is on standby to answer questions.” She’s at AAF now – which she considers the best art fair she’s attended (and she’s been to Bridge, Scope and Fountain) because of the fun, accessible vibe and the prevalence of young collectors.
Hot Tips: Almost everyone asks for a discount (usually around 10%) so don’t be shy. “I’m a believer that if you love it and you can afford it you should buy it.” And don’t worry whether the piece will appreciate. “You don’t know if it’s going to gain value, but the great thing about art is that it will never lose its value… You’ll always have something you love.”
Pictured above: Dean Goelz, “Untitled (Beaded Curtain 8, Gray),” Acrylic, latex, graphite on paper, 11 x 14 inches, 2009, $1,000

Mezze
Liz Roy, an artist by training, knows how uninviting the gallery experience can be. After spending time in the United Arab Emirates with her husband, they moved back to Brooklyn and founded Mezze, a roving “gallery” that showcases contemporary Middle Eastern and Asian artists in traditional and atypical settings (bookmark the site for upcoming shows).
Hot Tips: To find affordable art in New York, Roy suggests attending monthly First Thursdays and First Fridays events in Dumbo and Williamsburg — and going straight to the artist. “Attend open studios by MFA students at the end of the school year [Ed. Note: Pratt’s came and went, but there is a Recent Graduates Exhibition as part of the AAF] and chat up artists whose work you like. Another route is to collect editions or prints rather than original works.” To really begin collecting in earnest, she advises: “Zone in on a specific type of art you want to collect. By narrowing the scope of what you collect by region, or genre or medium for instance, you can gain more in depth knowledge of that category of work. Then you can find those galleries and dealers who are working with artists in your focus area.”
Pictured Above: Jalal Abu Thina, “The Edge of Now,” #4 (limited edition of 9), 20 x 30 inches, Photograph, 2008, $1,500

Shop Art
51 Bergen St., Cobble Hill
At Shop Art gallery, all the artwork – created primarily by local artists — is clearly priced on the wall, along with the artist’s mission. “The idea is to desacrilize the art and start a discussion if you want to,” says Guépin, who collected art on her own for years before opening her gallery. Everything is priced between $8 and $10,000, with many pieces falling in the $300 to $1,500 range. Recently, she’s added artist-led classes like Intro to Drawing on Wednesday evenings and Saturday mornings for $25. She’s also working on building the art complex Invisible Dog (mentioned in last week’s BB) behind Shop Art.
Hot Tips: Guépin, who will also be at AAF, lives by this sentiment to guide her own decisions: “‘Art is beautiful if you love it.’ If it’s something that provokes you — meaning something moved you, I think that should be the trigger when you purchase art. It’s not an impulsive buy. It’s something you have to live with.”
Pictured Above: Sarah Nicole Philips, Detail of “Security Grass,” a collage made from the insides of discarded, patterned security envelopes, 10 1/2 x 16 inches, $490

BONUS TIP: Steven Sergiovanni of Mixed Greens, who’ll be moderating the panel “Building Your Own Art Empire in a Recession,” gave us these pointers: “My biggest tip is buy what you love – it is the most important tip for a beginner collector.  I also think it’s important to do your research, see what’s out there.  Also, I always tell people to support young artists AND it’s important to take your time with a purchase and not feel rushed (don’t let a dealer pressure you), you want it to be the right piece for you and if you happen to miss out on a work that you love (meaning the piece sells) you can always get another by the same artist.  The benefit of collecting young artists work is that they are always working and making new work.”

Sent by Nicole. Top photo by UltraClay!

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