Monday, June 19, 2006

AAF Full Report

We attended our first Affordable Art Fair in New York City the last four days and although it was very hard work, it paid off handsomely. Herewith a full blow by blow:


4:00 AM - Wake up, shower and shave and prepare to drive van full of artwork to New York.

5:15 AM - On the road, and driving the gallery van full of Lida Moser, Sandra Ramos, Andrzej Pluta, Marta Maria Perez Bravo, David FeBland, and Maxwell MacKenzie work.

9:00 AM - I'm at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel, as by some weird warp of time I've actually made it this far in less than four hours.

10:00 AM - Takes one hour to cross the tunnel.

10:05 AM - Arrive at David FeBland's studio. I'm an hour early, so I call David to let him know that I'm outside his studio on Greenwich Street, but an hour early. David's at his doctor's appointment. "I'll be there in an hour," he says.

11:45 AM - FeBland arrives, and we load his work and drive to the AAF at the Metropolitan Pavillion on 18th Street.

12:15 PM - Arrive at AAF and found a primo parking spot right across the street from the entrance! Our space is about ten feet from Richmond's ADA Gallery and 25 feet from DC's Curator's Office.
Curator's Office

12:30 PM - Begin unloading artwork; everyone else is pretty much already set up.

2:00 PM - I get a massive Pastrami sandwich and a Diet Coke for $7 at a nearby deli.

3:00 PM - Camera crew asks if we can please stop hammering while they film around us.

3:17 PM - I find a parking ticket on my van as my welcome to NY; noticed that all other unloading vans and trucks are also ticketed for parking in a loading zone.

4:00 PM - We're pretty much done with the hanging and display and the show opens to the press. Tons (I mean tons) of people with "Press" badges begin crawling all over the place taking notes; didn't run into any NYC art bloggers, although bloggers were accredited as press (as they should be).

6:00 PM - Doors open to preview for collectors, and the place packs right away; open (and free) bar(s) at this point and I suck on a brew and grab another one for the booth.

6:30 PM - Bryant Gumbel and lady friend come by and admire the work of New York painter David FeBland. He says that he'll come back.

7:00 PM - Christie's photography curator comes in, with Lida Moser in tow. We discuss all the amazing stories that Lida has about the New York art scene from the 50s through the 80s. Magically several art dealers and other curators appear in our booth to say hello to the Christie's curator. She and her partner give us an amazing idea for Lida Moser's next exhibition.

8:00 PM - We've sold several thousand dollars' worth of artwork, and by now Gumbel has returned four times to stare and ponder a $4,200 original oil by FeBland.

8:01 PM - Gumbel apparently decides that (either) the FeBland is too pricey for his budget or his taste, and then acquires a lesser-priced art of naive style piece from our neighbor gallery.

9:00 - One last minute sale of a Sandra Ramos digital print.

9:30 PM - Drive to the Marcel Hotel in a terrifying dance with NYC cabs as I try to make my way to 24th Street according to the "directions" of MapQuest.

10:15 PM - Forty-five minutes to drive 1.44 miles.

10:30 PM - As if the $200 for a tiny hotel room is not enough, I am informed that vans are an extra $10 a day parking for a total of $85 parking bill.

11:00 PM - I am exhausted and running on fumes but starving, so we go for a stroll along 3rd Avenue looking for a place to eat.

11:19 PM - 100 great eating places later we end up in a great Vietnamese joint with the unusual name of Lannam.

12:30 PM - After a walk through the packed streets of 3rd Avenue, I finally hit the sack in the postage sized room of the Marcel Hotel.


9:00 AM - Up and about and walk to the Met Pavillion.

10:00 - Breakfast of lox and coffee.

11:00 AM - At AAF to discover that the fair opens to the public at noon; wasted an extra hour of possible sleep!

2:00 PM - A couple begins a near marital spat as they argue over which three FeBland paintings they like best. It's their third visit during the day - they finally walk away in separate directions.

3:00 PM - The couple is back (apparently having decided and made up). She steps into the booth, he's a few feet behind her. She glances back at him. "So, which ones do you like?" she asks. He points to the same three paintings that they have been arguing for a couple of hours. "Should we get them?" she asks, looking back at him. "Just get them," he answers. She looks back at him anxiously, even I can tell that she's just wanting him to step next to her and be "there." He notices something in her look and asks, "Which ones do you like?" She looks at the display again and agrees with him. "I like those three as well." Now I'm thinking "sale made." She looks back at him, as I approach the wall to remove the first of the three paintings. "So, get those three?" she asks again. His cell phone rings and he answers it and begins to walk away. She rolls her eyes, yells something at him and follows him in a huff calling him names.

5:00 PM - A couple of good sales of two lifetime silver gelatin photos by Lida Moser are carrying the day so far. The crowds are fairly good and constant.

6:00 PM - Crowds thicken; the London gallery next to us is either doing gangbusters or rotating the work on their walls every hour.

7:00 PM - A man who had loved FeBland's work on the Thursday night preview and who wanted his wife to see it (to see if she liked him as well) returns with the wife in tow. She glances at the work and says "I don't like it." I look at her puzzled, as she has actually just glanced at it for a second. She notices and as if to offer an explanation tells me that "we always come to the art fairs, but we never buy anything because we can never agree on anything." The husband sighs, and I am sure prepares to dislike whatever she picks next.

8:00 PM - Fair ends.

10:00 - Another great spot to dine on 3rd Avenue - this time at Choice Restaurant. I order grilled shark from a nervous new waitress. She comes back and asks how I want it cooked. Never having been asked this before for seafood, I respond that I want it "flaky." She says that the computer is asking her if I want it rare, medium, etc. Even more puzzled I say "medium."

10:20 PM - I get a medium cooked steak (the other special). I inform the busboy that I had ordered shark. In Farsi he tries to communicate with me. The manager is there in a New York second and wants to know what the problem is. I tell him and he apologizes and tells me that she's a new waitress and that she made a mistake on entering the dish. I tell him that I'll take the steak and that she shouldn't get in trouble as she's new. He says "don't worry," and tells me that the shark will be there in 10 minutes, and that drinks are on the house.

10:35 PM - Two beers and ten minutes later a huge piece of really nice shark arrives. The food is excellent!

11:00 PM - Sated (and a little drunk) - I leave the waitress a really good tip.

11:45 PM - In bed, thrashed and full (bad idea).


9:00 AM - Up and it - my feet are killing me; head OK.

10:30 AM - Have walked from hotel to AAF and sit down to watch a little Word Cup at the New York deli and have a bagel and lox again for breakfast; yummy.

11:00 AM - AAF opens to the public and good crowds begin to come in immediately.

2:00 PM - The director of a major Los Angeles gallery comes by and discusses representing the work of David FeBland in Los Angeles.

4:00 PM - A NYC photography collector who has acquired several photos from us through drops by to pick up some work that he had adquired before and in the visit also buys a few Lida Moser vintage photos and also closes a sale that we've been working on for two years for a $7,000 Joyce Tenneson dyptich.
ADA Gallery

5:00 PM - Richmond's ADA Gallery seems to be doing gangbusters and selling quite well. The Brits next to us continue to sell or rotate work.

6:00 PM - Strong sales day, with more Lida Moser sales, as well as a major Sandra Ramos piece.

7:00 PM - We sell a FeBland painting to a collector near the very rare top of the 100 most influential people in the world in art. A couple of other art dealers magically appear as we're closing the sale to introduce themselves to the collector. They later inform me who this Ubercollector is, although the collector's spouse had done a pretty good job of filling me in already, as well as telling me that "the most important event that happened to your gallery in this fair is not the sales, but the fact that you have placed this painting in this collection and home; you'll see what happens now." OK, let's see.

8:00 PM - Fair closes for the day - good sales.

10:00 PM - Excellent pulpo at an Italian restaurant on 3rd Avenue.

12:00 PM - Out.


6:00 AM - As much as I hate it, I get up super early in order to find a good parking spot at the Met Pavillion, as we will be loading the van at the end of today's last day. I drive to 18th Street and find a spot right in front of the door.

8:00 AM - It's already in the 90's in New York and the streets are nonetheless packed with people as I have breakfast and watch the World Cup on TV. The Central American deli guys tell me that the US got ripped off in their game versus Italy.

10:00 AM - I have a good, long chat with an Israeli art dealer who's having a slow fair. She tells me that her neighbor has only sold $1,000 in the first three days, and that last year the same gallery sold $40,000 at AAF.

11:00 AM - AAF opens for its final day - once again, good crowds come in.

2:00 PM - We've spent nearly two hours working with a young couple who wants to buy some Maxwell MacKenzie photographs - they're having a very difficult time deciding what to get.

4:00 PM - Nearly four hours later, the couple buys two MacKenzie's.

4:15 PM - A small child knocks a sculpture down in the ADA Gallery space. The parents (who had not been keeping an eye on their child) berate and yell at the child instead of immediately apologizing to the gallery and offering to pay for damages. Fortunately, the sculpture is minimally damaged and should easily be able to be fixed... still.

5:00 PM - A major New York City gallerist drops by and buys a large painting from ADA Gallery.

6:00 PM - Time to close, pack up and leave. And then a lady wearing a press badge comes in and wants to buy a Marta Maria Perez Bravo photograph. As I am closing the sale I notice that the photo has a tiny dimple. I unframe the photo to examine it and see if it can be repaired. It can't, but if reframed it can be hidden without the affecting the integrity of the image. I offer her (since it's the last one) a generous discount if she still wants to keep it, and she decides to keep the photo. By now it's almost 6:45PM, but we make one last minute sale.

7:00 PM - Begin loading van - it's super hot and muggy in NYC.

8:00 PM - All packed and ready to go, but I have to drop David FeBland off at his studio and pick up two large paintings for his upcoming solo with Fraser Gallery later this year.

9:00 PM - On the New Jersey Turnpike and heading home. The fair has been a terrific (but hard) success.

12:30 PM - Home.

I'm back!

Back from NYC - full Affordable Art Fair report coming in a few minutes!