Now that ArtExpo NY is in my rear-view mirror, this is a good time to reflect on the experience. Wednesday through Sunday (April 18 – 22) was life in fast-forward in a whole new and different arena. Wednesday was set-up day, Thursday was industry-only day, and Friday through Sunday were days when I got to meet thousands of art lovers.
When the doors opened every morning, I no longer was an artist painting in isolation. I now was a professional artist-slash-performer playing to a crowd of thousands. In fact, it was not entirely dissimilar to my days of playing in a band. Yet through it all, the singular point that was not lost on my fellow artists or me was that the purpose of the art on display and the accompanying performance component ultimately was to sell paintings and create opportunities, both immediate and for the future. The purpose of ArtExpo NY, as with any art show or festival, is the commerce of art – the sale of art.
In pursuit of the elusive and sought-after sale (I made one), my days were long and arduous. In addition to showing my paintings, I also displayed a permanent-press smile on my face. The heels of my feet were on fire from standing virtually in place for hours on end. I spoke to each of the thousands of visitors to my display wall as if they were the first and only people I had spoken to all day.
Yet for all the obsession with sales, ArtExpo NY also had an overwhelming sense of community among the artists. Generally, it’s rare for artists to meet. Here, there was the surprising realization that, as artists, we are not alone in our ambitions and the need to have our art connect with the rest of the world. Moreover, there was the realization that artists – each with a uniqueness to their work – from every corner of the planet all share that quality.
In a brief five-day period, we artists met some kindred spirits, shared a unique experience, and now we plan to take those experiences and new-found friendships with us into the future.
So was ArtExpo a success? In a word…yes. And I had the best time.