A flood of art fairs taking place this weekend illuminates the bustling art scene in the city, which continues to thrive despite soaring rents causing many artists to leave New York.
Beginning Friday, Frieze Week comprises more than 10 contemporary art fairs throughout the city, anchored by Frieze New York, a leading international fair featuring 190 galleries, 53 of which are from New York.
“The art industry in New York is the best in the world,” said Frieze co-founder Amanda Sharp.
Even with a strong art scene, it’s still difficult for emerging artists to make enough money to live in Manhattan. Where artists live and work has drastically changed over the years, with many moving away in search of cheaper living. Artists can no longer afford to live in SoHo lofts like they did in the 1960s and ’70s because most of their incomes come from service jobs that don’t pay enough for the expensive rents.
“It’s self-evident that some of the most creative people are getting pushed out of the city as rents escalate — to Philadelphia if they need urbanism, or to the Hudson Valley if they need cheaper space,” said Andrew Ross, NYU professor of social and cultural analysis.
The expansive network of art fairs makes it somewhat easier for many young artists to stay in the city, saving money by not having to travel to fairs in other cities, like the original Frieze in London.
“The exposure an artist will receive at an art fair is far greater to that of a gallery show, as their work is put before thousands of collectors, writers and curators, vastly increasing the possibility that their work is acquired,” said Helen Toomer, director of the PULSE New York fair.
A few of the fairs also feature individual artists and artist collectives without gallery backing, including Fridge Art Fair and Contemporary Art Fair NYC, giving more young and emerging artists the chance to gain exposure and make sales.
The artists that remain in New York are becoming more and more spread out instead of establishing one area in the city where they congregate, as was the case in the past.
“There’s a lot of connectivity with Brooklyn — a lot going on in Bushwick,” said Nancy Barton, NYU professor of art and director of the Prattsville Art Center and Residence in upstate Prattsville.
Other than Brooklyn, Chinatown, Harlem and the Bronx are also attracting artists as hip and affordable places to live and work.