Philadelphia Is Getting a New Contemporary Art Fair Next Spring

The inaugural Philadelphia Fine Art Fair will take place next April.

The City Troop Armory. in Philadelphia. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

A new boutique contemporary art fair is coming to the City of Brotherly Love. The Philadelphia Fine Art Fair (PFAF), a new venture from event production company ShowHamptons, will host its inaugural edition on April 4–7, 2019.

Home to top-notch institutions, a burgeoning scene of young artists, and a number of notable antique and craft expos, the city has yet to cement a signature contemporary art fair. Rick Friedman, the executive director of ShowHamptons who has mounted regional fairs in places such as Houston, San Francisco, Palm Springs, is trying to change that.

“We’re always looking for regions that have an active collector base that really gets art and is committed to the art community,” Friedman tells artnet News. “Philadelphia scores very, very high when it comes to that formula. The more research I did, the more excited I got about the marketplace there.”

PFAF will be held at the City Troop Armory, a historic, 117-year-old granite building owned and operated by country’s oldest military unit still active today, the First City Troop. The first edition will feature 40 galleries—a manageable number that, Friedman notes, will be a mix of the region’s top galleries and a number of more national names. Applications are being accepted and reviewed by the fair’s selection committee now, and a full list will be announced later this year.

Hamptons Expo Group president Rick Friedman spearheaded the Silicon Valley Contemporary fair

ShowHamptons executive director Rick Friedman. courtesy of ShowHamptons.

The fair has also partnered with a financial institution, National Business Capital (NBC), to provide loans to galleries for the event. Branded the Gallerist Loan, the financial help will be offered in a variety of forms—short-term, long-term, and bridge loans—to allow cash-strapped galleries to participate.

“We’ve seen in the past that often galleries will pass on a great opportunity because cash flow is tight,” Friedman says. “With this in mind, we partnered with NBC to develop a product line geared for the unique needs and finances of gallery owners. No money, no problem, we will lend it to you!”

Friedman also explains that a number of events and special shows will accompany the fair, two of which have already been solidified. The first is an exhibition of drawings and prints by M.C. Escher, mounted by Walker Fine Art. The second is “The Heroines of Abstract Expressionism,” which will bring together works by female postwar painters from Friedman’s own collection. Featuring artists like Joan Mitchell, Helen Frankenthaler, Lee Krasner, Elaine de Kooning, the exhibition is slated to travel next fall.

“We’ve discovered that a lot of people don’t want to go to New York, they don’t want to have to fly down to Miami. If you go to their neighborhood, they’ll show up. It’s an opportunity for the collectors in the region to meet galleries that they wouldn’t normally meet, and see artwork that they wouldn’t normally see.”

Find out more about the PFAF at philfineartfair.com.


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