For the Low, Low Price of $10, You Can a Get an Original Painting at Frieze New York (Cash Only)

Artist Steve Keene wants to make work that anyone can afford.

Artist Steve Keene making works at Frieze New York at the PPOW booth, where his pictures were on sale for as little at $10. Courtesy PPOW Gallery.

A few hours into the opening of the Frieze art fair on Randall’s Island this week, there was something of a frenzy at the PPOW gallery stand, where artist Steve Keene was running around to and fro atop a stage in the booth.

Working from pinned-up images of musicians and animals, Keene dashed back and forth, making repeated strokes on dozens of panels at a time, resulting in a wide range of images, but each with a subtle, unique nature of its own. The offerings including brightly colored pictures of cats, dogs, houses, and 1980s bands including Devo, the Human League, Depeche Mode, and Siouxsie and the Banshees.

Buyers are instructed to "Pay Here" via a wooden box inside the PPOW booth at Frieze New York. Photo: Eileen Kinsella.

Buyers are instructed to “Pay Here” via a wooden box inside the PPOW booth at Frieze New York. Photo: Eileen Kinsella.

“It’s the perfect metaphor for an art fair,” dealer Wendy Olsoff told artnet News. “Even if we sell everything he makes, we still wouldn’t make money on the booth. It’s about being dedicated. We love what we do.” She added that she loves the performative aspect of the work, as well as the idea that “everyone can get a painting.”

All of the works were for sale—but for cash only and on an honors system via a large wooden box with a sign that read: “Pay Here.” The paintings were a steal, with pictures priced at $10, $20, or $50 each, depending on size.

Installation of Steve Keene at P.P.O.W's Frieze booth. Photo courtesy of the artist and PPOW, New York.

Installation of Steve Keene at P.P.O.W’s Frieze booth. Photo courtesy of the artist and PPOW, New York.

Inside the booth, a crush of visitors crowded around a wall where racks of paintings were available. Other interested buyers were laying out possible options side-by-side on the floor, with one woman carefully pondering a group of pictures of white dogs.

“They’re so busy selling paintings, it’s like the 80s again, and they’ll have to start doing coke just to keep up,” said Cornell DeWitt, founder of Daily Plinth, who had just bought a $20 painting of David Bowie. “Best $20 I’ve ever spent on art.”

Keene, who has described himself as a folk and performance artist, “prefers to physically insert himself into the art show,” according to a statement from the gallery.

A word of caution to interested buyers: keep your receipt, which you get along with a large red bag once you tell a gallery staffer you’ve paid. Security guards who check bags at all the entrances and exits need proof that the work has been paid for!

Frieze New York is on view at Randall’s Island Park, New York, May 1–5, 2019.

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