Growing up in the South taught artist Kim Alsbrooks two lessons. First, everyone is basically related to each other. Second, the contributions of certain people, by virtue of their social status and lineage, are inherently more important than those of others. Fortunately, these lessons didn’t stick.
Juxtaposing classical miniature portraiture with discarded beer cans and liquor bottles, Alsbrooks’s series “My White Trash Family” playfully explores society’s ingrained notions of importance, emphasizing instead the common thread among us. So, too, does this weekend’s Parallax Art Fair seek to challenge the art world’s conventional measures of significance.
Billed as a “non-art fair,” the Parallax Art Fair, May 11 and 12 at the Prince George Ballroom in Manhattan, offers artists and visitors an alternative to the increasingly commercial art world. Founded in London by Dr. Chris Barlow, the Parallax Art Fair is “a statement about the very real problems concerning knowledge acquisition and objects designated as contemporary art.” Designed to combat “subjectivity and commodification of taste,” the fair represents “the practical exploration of new and radical ideas that developed within the professional discipline of art history.”
Returning to New York for the third time, this weekend’s fair features over 2,000 pieces from 200 artists from around the world, ranging from classical painting to mixed media to marquetry. Every artist is self-represented. (Unlike many major art fairs, Parallax does not accept submissions from galleries.) It charges the artists no submission fee; instead, those selected pay hanging fees based on the number of works shown. The artists sell directly to the fair visitors, and Parallax takes no commission on the sales. Even the venue is significant: the fair takes place in the Prince George Ballroom, a stunningly restored ballroom owned by and for the benefit of Common Ground, an organization dedicated to services for the homeless.
The fair’s egalitarian approach attracted artists like Alsbrooks and James Godman. An accomplished director and photographer, Godman returned to his original medium of painting in 2007, continuing to explore his vision within a “limitless frame.” While Godman has shown his work in more conventional settings, the openness of the Parallax Art Fair appealed to him. As Godman explained, the fair offers artists the opportunity “to share the work so it takes on a life of its own.” After all, isn’t that what it’s really about?
The Parallax Art Fair takes place on May 11 and May 12, 11 am to 5 pm, at the Prince George Ballroom, 15 E. 27th Street, New York, New York 10016. Admission is free.
Article by Marisa Office