Affordable Art Fair cashes in on economic gloom

Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:09pm EDT
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By Claudia Parsons

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Lauren Albert couldn't resist the floppy-eared clay dog sculpture sitting on a pedestal, and the best thing about it was the price -- just $528, which makes it cheap even at a show called the Affordable Art Fair.

While some artists fear the economic downturn could hurt sales for what is a luxury item, experts say the general financial gloom could help sales at the annual fair, as people who would normally spend more on art seek out a bargain.

"There are pieces that a couple of years ago I would have bought but now I'm nervous about it, in the $7,000 to $10,000 range," Albert, a 44-year-old attorney, said as she waited for her dog sculpture by artist Virginia Dowe to be wrapped.

Venezuelan photographer Leslie Gabaldon said she had been nervous about sales since art was a luxury item, but she was pleased to have sold three works on Wednesday, the opening day of the Affordable Art Fair, which runs through Sunday.

"I was afraid with the economy, everything is so bad, but I guess it's nothing to do with art," Gabaldon said, standing by a group of photographs of snow-covered branches and flowers lit up by sunshine, inspired by Chinese art.

Her prices start at around $250 for one photograph, though she would rather sell a set of 10 mounted as an installation.

Ross Bonfanti, another artist whose work was at the lower end of the $10,000 price limit at the fair, said he had sold several of his animal sculptures, made by emptying the stuffing out of stuffed toys bought in thrift stores, filling them up with concrete and then ripping off the fabric.

"The market in New York is really strong in the sense that there's a lot of people who appreciate art," said Bonfanti.   Continued...