‘Do You Like Art Fairs?’ We Buttonholed a Few Stylish Regulars at Frieze New York

Art fairs attract all sorts of people. Here's a sampling of visitors at Frieze New York 2018.

Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Since it launched on Randall’s Island in 2012, the Frieze Art Fair has established itself as a fixture on New York’s art calendar. Every year, the event attracts galleries, collectors, and visitors from around the world. While apprehensive dealers reported a slow start and questioned the sustainability of the art-fair model, those not working at the event were free to enjoy the balmy weather while meandering through the aisles with a beverage in hand.

We buttonholed a handful of visitors, from first-timers to seasoned art-fair veterans, to ask them about their time at the fair, what they liked, and what they bought.


Austin Lee and Oliver Clegg

Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Age: 34 and 38.

Occupation: Artists.

What are you doing at the fair?

Austin: I’m here to look at art.

Oliver: I’m looking at art and supporting some friends.

Are you showing at the fair?

Austin: Yes, at Peres Projects and Kaikai Kiki.

Oliver: No, I have a show that opened yesterday in Chelsea, but I have no work here.

Do you like art fairs?

Austin: It’s good and bad. It’s a nice place to see a lot of work really fast, but it’s also is not the best place to see artwork. Art doesn’t look at its best at a fair.

Oliver: Like anything, it depends on your state of mind. I think that consuming anything in huge quantity can dilute the experience, you know?


Prince Adetomiwa Gbadebo

Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Age: “Under 30″

Occupation: Philanthropist, artist, and entrepreneur.

What brings you to the fair? I’m here at Frieze to look at art, connect, to see what galleries are showing what, to see how many black artists are being shown at Frieze, and to enjoy art with friends.

Where are you visiting from? I’m based in Minnesota and Nigeria and I’m showing here in New York.

Are you an artist? Yes, with Ethan Cohen gallery in New York.

Do you like art fairs? I love art fairs. I love the market itself and everything that encompasses it. But without the artists there would be no fairs, no dealers, no collectors. The artists are everything.


Pia Zanardi

Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Age: 25

Occupation: Fashion designer.

What have you been up to at Frieze? I’m looking at galleries and looking at art.

Did you see anything that you liked? Yeah, I liked the Gagosian exhibition with the big chairs, but I don’t remember the artist’s name. [Robert Therrien]

Do you collect art? Yes, I collect art. I’m not here to buy anything in particular, but I like to look at things.

What’s your favorite thing about art fairs? The energy that connects everyone from around the world through art.

And your least favorite thing? Too many people!


Michel Heredia and Shahdeh Ammadi

Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Age: 37 and not given.

Occupation: Collector and hotelier.

What are you doing at Frieze today?

Shahdeh: I just came back from the Middle East where I did a full tour of Art Dubai, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Iran to look at art, and contemporary art. So it’s really interesting to come home to New York and see what’s happening.

Michel: Just visiting. I love seeing art.

Did you see anything that you liked?

Shahdeh: My favorite today is an artist whose work I’ve been following for a while, Van Hanos. Van’s work is at Chateau Shatto, and his paintings were stunning. I can’t stop thinking about them.

Are you a collector?

Shahdeh: I am collecting, slowly but surely. I haven’t bought anything yet today, I’m still looking around. But I recently bought three pieces from young artists in the Middle East. Hopefully I’ll find something from a young artist. I’m trying to support the next generation.

Do you like art fairs?

Michel: I love art fairs. I love the social aspect, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.


Lawrence Wheeler

Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Age: 72

Occupation: Director and CEO of the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh.

What do you think of the fair so far? I always enjoy the Frieze fair. I think it’s well-curated and there’s always a consistency in the types of the works that appear at the various galleries.

Has anything stood out to you? Oh god! A lot of them have stood out to me, I don’t know that I can single one out. I look at it as theater and I see the artworks all playing roles together and saying something about the world of art today.

What do you think of art fairs? I love to go to art fairs! I go to as many art fairs as I can, and while people say ‘oh it’s just the same old galleries and the same artists,’ it never is. There’s always leitmotif that emerges, a dominant point of view.

You seem optimistic. Oh yeah. I am!


Nefertiti Best

Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Age: 32

Occupation: Make-up artist.

What are you doing at the fair today? I’m just exploring some art, and taking in the scene. It’s my first time at an art fair and I’m curious to see what’s here.

Are you a collector? I’m a lover of art, and I’ve just started getting into painting.

What’s your first impression of what’s going on around you? Well, since this is my first fair, I didn’t really know what to expect, but I really do love the look and the display. I do love it, but it’s a lot to take in. You need a couple of days. But it is really cool!

Do you like it so far? It’s nice and not too overwhelming. The exhibitors are very available to answer your questions, which is very interesting, and is a bonus for a space like this that’s overwhelmingly crowded with creativity.


Paulina Zakh and Ooooota Adepo

Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Age: 27 and 31

Occupation: Multimedia producer; art and real estate entrepreneur.

How are you liking the fair?

Ooooota: I’m used to going to the fair in London, but this is interesting. It’s not bad.

And are you here to buy anything?

Ooooota: I haven’t seen anything that I would personally purchase, but we’re getting there!

Paulina: I’m starting to work on some art myself, so I’m using the fair for inspiration.

Do you like art fairs?

Paulina: Yes. We both used to work in art.

Are you working here today?

Paulina: No, I’m not. But I work for a multimedia studio that does a lot of art-related stuff.

Jiminie Ha and Neko

Photo: Henri Neuendorf.

Age: 39

Occupation: Creative director.

How are you enjoying the fair? I just got here. It seems fine so far.

Do you like art fairs? Yes, generally I do. It is part of the job too, I have to go the art fairs to see the art and some people.

Anything caught your eye? Not yet! I haven’t even started.

How’s your dog doing? I think she’s freaked out by so many people!

Do you collect art? I do. We’ll see, maybe if I like something I’ll add to my collection.

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