well maybe the works on offer here are not quite cheap, but the affordable art fair new york city has always had lots of gorgeous, interesting art for relatively affordable prices (starting at $100). j and i don’t know too much about art, and we are definitely not experts, but the few times we’ve come to this affordable art fair we’ve had a great time looking and dreaming. it is, however, always a challenge getting to consensus. he loves pastels and impressionism (so not my thing) and i am much more of a gerard richter or a jim maio cityscape gal — the latter’s my latest obsession over a work that we might actually buy). and then there is the “do we do this, or do we not do this, and is it even worth it or, rather, where would we actually put it” discussion that can go on for a while. as a result, we haven’t bought that much art over time but we always love to look and someday, maybe soon, we’ll finally finally fill that big empty space over our sofa.
hopefully, you might be a little more decisive when it comes to plunking down cash for a picture and if so there’s always been great stuff to choose from here. this year, the affordable art fair has more than 60 international galleries participating with mostly paintings but some photographs and sculpture. some of the artists that look intriguing include sang bum lin, stephen nederveen, kathleen wilke and julio fierro. the fair is also featuring a recent graduate section showcasing student works. as an added incentive to parents, the fair is offering a children’s art studio from 12 to 4 on saturday or sunday where parents can drop their kids (ages 3 to 12) to play at a jim dine hammering station, draw lines and shapes a la ellsworth kelly or mondrian and do other interactive art projects. how much better can that be — free educational childcare. regardless of whether you’re in the market or not, the affordable art fair is an excellent way to spend a few hours. affordable art fair new york city, 7 west 34th street between 5th and 6th avenues, manhattan, new york. open friday, may 8th (12 p.m. to 8 p.m.), saturday, may 9th (12 p.m. to 8 p.m.) and sunday, may 10th (12 p.m. to 5 p.m.).
mini guide new york: murray hill: the affordable art fair is not exactly in the most appealing of locations though it is a destination spot for a number of reasons — super close to the beautiful empire state building, next to bustling if not appealing macy’s and the huge h&m (and the only one with children’s and maternity clothing making it a destination in itself) and of course very close to the hideous but often necessary madison square garden and penn station (why this was destroyed is just impossible to understand). so there are many reasons why you might end up in this neighborhood, and then one of the more difficult questions is what to do and where to shop if a chain is not your thing. so these are my thoughts:
penelope, a super cozy spot for brunch (there can be a wait) and lunch as well as dinner. i have not been for a few years, but recent reviews look like it has been holding its own. 159 lexington avenue at 30th street, manhattan, new york, 212.481.3800.
morgan library cafe: the beautiful gem of a museum, recently redone by renzo piano, has a lovely cafe with slow service and fairly decent snack food. it is an extremely pleasant atmosphere, and if you are in no rush it can be very relaxing and even tasty. they also have a nice gift shop and often an interesting small show — right now there’s a new yorker cartoon exhibit. 225 madison avenue at 36th street, 212.685.0008.
artisanal bistro, fromagerie and wine bar: for heartier fare, and excellent cheeses, artisanal is a great place. it can be super pricey so watch what you order, though it seems they have modified their restaurant to be a little more affordable allowing just wine or cheese or both rather than a full-on meal. i have not been for a number of years but believe the cheese still stands strong. 2 park avenue at 32nd street, manhattan, new york, 212.725.8585.
korean: so there are a ton of korean restaurants right here, and while i am no expert, some suggestions include madangsui for barbecue, arirang which just opened for noodle soups, and cho dang gol and gahm mi oak for bi bim bop and other classics. reviews by some more experienced korean food eaters definitely vary but i am guessing for those not that well versed in korean food these would all be good places to try. madangsui, 35 west 35th street between 5th and 6th avenues, 212.564.9333; arirang, 32 west 32nd street between 5th and 6th avenues, 212.967.5088; cho dang gol, 55 west 35th street between 5th and 6th avenues, gahm mi oak, 43 west 32nd street between 5th avenue and broadway, 212.695.4113.
the j.b. prince company, i have never been here, but i am definitely intrigued. according to new york magazine, this is a shop for cooks and especially bakers. hmmm. i do love to bake (just did my first rhubarb pie of the season) and have yet to find my perfect kitchen shop. this might be it. 36 east 31st street, 11th floor, 212.683.5553.
ddc domus design collection: while not particularly affordable, this design shop carries a large range of interesting modern designers that are great for thinking outside the box and definitely a little more fun than design within reach and a lot more fun than west elm. 181 madison avenue at 34th street, manhattan, new york, 212.685.0800.
http://www.scandinaviahouse.org/shop.html: located in the ground floor of the scandinavia house, this small shop offers a nice range of scandinavian goods including some kitchen and household items, decorative glass and fun kiddie toys. 58 park avenue near 37th street, manhattan, new york, 212.847.9737.