As I’ve mentioned before, the recession has had a serious negative impact on the art world. This month is turning out to be a particularly interesting moment for the art economy, with the annual return of the massive Art Basel Miami Beach and a slew of satellite fairs to South Beach. Many galleries and art dealers seem to be staking a lot on the 2009 fair scene, hoping that last year’s gloomy atmosphere will be swept away by a major return of collectors with cash in hand, ready to spend again. At least one pre-opening AP news story has claimed that optimism is running high in Miami this year, and that art sales may even return to pre-recession levels.
Yet Miami’s big, sometimes overheated spectacle isn’t the only thing that’s happening on the art scene this December. Closer to home here in New York, VCS faculty member Amy Wilson and VCS student Shannon Broder are staging The Degenerate Craft Fair, a more down-to-earth response to the fair scene that’s designed to offer affordable handmade artworks and crafts for holiday shoppers. Taking place at three different venues over three weeks this month, the DCF will include dozens of works from over 20 artists and designers. Many are priced under $50, and all of the proceeds from sales will go directly to the participating artists. Participants—including VCS student Marissa Leah—have come up with an amazing range of works, including CDs, jewelry, ornaments, clothing, pillows, prints, stuffed animals, zines, and even square inches of Detroit, Michigan.
Conceived and organized by Wilson and Broder, the DCF was originally envisioned partly as a rejoinder to the overwhelming sprawl of the big art fairs, but also as means of helping a small, closely-knit group of friends in the art world weather the effects of the recession together. “Artists have been really devastated by the terrible economy,” says Wilson. “So we wanted to come up with a way to help ourselves to make a little extra money by selling inexpensive versions of our work – books, prints, multiples, whatever we can come up with.” Initial response to the DCF has been very positive, and Broder was even interviewed about it on the radio earlier this week (you can listen to the interview here).
The DCF’s launch party will be held this Friday, December 4th, at Silent Barn (915 Wyckoff Ave, Ridgewood, NYC), from 8 p.m. to midnight. For directions and information about the DCF’s other dates and venues, check out the fair’s web site and press release. I will post a report on the party along with a few photos soon, so stay tuned.