INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH: THE ACCESSIBLE ART FAIR NEW YORK. The Clarion List continues our series of interviews with innovative art companies. Whether you are learning about these companies for the first time or are already familiar with their services, we hope this series helps shed insight into each’s distinct niche and make the art services market in general more transparent.
This month we discussed art fairs and market accessibility with Maria van Vlodrop, founder of MvVO ART and co-founder, Director of The Accessible Art Fair New York edition presented by MvVO ART. Learn about this unique fair, how artists are selected to exhibit and sell directly to fair visitors, and how technology and accessibility are changing the art market.
The Clarion List: What is The Accessible Art Fair?
Maria van Vlodrop: The Accessible Art Fair is a departure from conventional art fairs. The objective is to bring emerging and mid-career artists—unknown and often unrepresented—in direct contact with art collectors, art world professionals, and the general public. It’s an opportunity for everyone to discover new talent and for the artists to get immediate feedback about their work.
CL: Who are the founders? How and why did it start?
MvV: The Accessible Art Fair began in 2007 in Brussels where it is an annual event. Stephanie Manasseh is the founder. The mission is to break down the barriers between artists and collectors, to demystify art collecting, and to provide a platform for discovery.
Inspired by the continuing success in Brussels, bringing the Accessible Art Fair to New York became the debut project of my new, innovative art venture—MvVo Art. I’m partnering with
Stephanie Manasseh to co-found and direct the New York edition of the art fair. Stephanie will also serve as Chief Curator joined by Isaac Aden as guest curator.Our location—the historic National Arts Club on Gramercy Park—is the perfect venue. We share their mission to stimulate, foster and promote interest in the arts and to educate the general public. The Accessible Art Fair New York presented by MvVO Art will be the first time for them hosting a contemporary art fair. They will be open on weekends to invite as many visitors as possible. It’s also a beautiful, Victorian Gothic Revival mansion which will provide a stunning backdrop for the work of our contemporary artists.
CL: How do you choose the participating artists? What requirements do you have of them and how do they apply?
MvV: All our Accessible Art Fair New York artists were selected by a jury made up of serious art world professionals—from Sotheby’s, Gagosian, artnet, etc. The artists were chosen purely on the basis of merit, talent and commitment to their careers. We have painters, photographers, and sculptors. As we work directly with the artists they do not need representation. However, we welcome galleries and advisors to come to the fair and discover these unknown, but vetted artists. They are all worthy of notice and we are sure that the fair will give them the attention they deserve. The fair is a unique opportunity to jump-start careers!
CL: What type of collector attends the Accessible Art Fair?
MvV: I think adventurous and independent art lovers are the most likely attendees—both new collectors and longtime collectors. The direct contact with the artists is key. There will be opportunities for the artists to share their inspirations and for collectors to get to know the person behind the work of art. Collecting art is not just about falling in love with one object; it can be about developing an art relationship with the creator and seeing how that one piece fits into a body of work. The Accessible Art Fair enables that to happen in an open and friendly atmosphere.
CL: What are the benefits of this business model, of removing the traditional dealer/gallery from the art fair equation?
MvV: For some collectors galleries and dealers are helpful friends and consultants, but many new or less experienced art lovers find galleries intimidating. The Accessible Art Fair is the opposite. The goal is to make art “accessible” and the best way to do that is to invite everyone to mix & mingle and talk about art. Just as The Clarion List is opening access to a huge database of art world professionals—art conservators, lighting specialists, insurance experts, etc., who might have been hard to find just a few years ago—The Accessible Art Fair is inviting all art lovers to experience a hand-picked group of emerging and mid-career artists who might otherwise remain off their radar.
CL: You brought the concept for the fair over from Brussels. What do you see for the future of the art fair - more geographic expansion?
MvV: Of course we have plans for the future—including making the Accessible Art Fair New York an annual MvVO Art event, launching a Hamptons edition, and considering other U.S. cities. But right now, we are solely focused on our November inaugural edition. We want to make it an extraordinary success for our artists, our attendees, and our sponsors. Everyone is working together. Stephanie and Isaac are sharing a unique curatorial vision. Our supporting partners, like arnet and tumblr, are enhancing our online/social media presence. We are talking to our sponsor Brussels Airlines about expanding to their hub cities. We will continue an online presence for sales of our Accessible Art Fair New York artists’ work after the fair.There are so many potential directions and opportunities! At the end of November MvVO Art will explore how and where the Accessible Art Fair will grow in the U.S. and how we can use technology to increase the visibility of artists and create new platforms for discovery. Our plans will develop in conjunction with the evolutions in the art world and with the interests of our partners, sponsors, artists, and art influencers.
CL: What do you like about The Clarion List?
MvV: The Clarion List gives “outsiders” the information previously available only to art world “insiders.” This is also part of our Accessible Art mission. We’re leveling the playing field with our open atmosphere and will offer art advisement to attendees. (Information about reserving time with our curators will be on our website when the tickets go on sale.) I like the way The Clarion List is opening doors and giving art collectors access to a wide array of art service professionals. It’s a 21st century concept—breaking down the barriers to create access. Its time has come!
CL: Like your fair, technology also enables collectors and artists to connect directly via e-commerce platforms. How do you see the role of the gallery/dealer playing in the future in the art market?
MvV: I’d like to address this issue from another angle. It’s more about how technology can play a major role in getting artists noticed by art collectors, and how technology offers additional direct channels between the artist, the art buyer and art professionals. MvVO ART is exploring how all sorts of innovative technologies—including social media platforms and cloud technology—can open up new bridges between artists, collectors, art professionals and art lovers in general. These new media are exceptional tools for promotion, education and engagement.Our jury handpicked the Accessible Art Fair New York artists and we put them in touch directly with the collectors—at the fair in person and online, too. We’ve already received interest from potential buyers about artists featured in the fair, and we will continue our online presence through our partners, artnet and tumblr, after the fair where our artists have profiles. Social media is critical to the Accessible Art Fair New York. We’re using it to communicate, promote and engage. We will have an online program sponsored by Brussels Airlines where the public votes for their favorite artists. Technology is a tool for this kind of immediate response. It helps further our mission of creating opportunities for artists and collectors to discover, connect and engage!
Accessible Art Fair New York
The National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, New York, NY
Nov. 1 to Nov. 25, 2016
For First Access tickets, or private VIP events contact Mariavanvlodrop@mvvoart.com