The Other Art Fair Finds a New Home in Gowanus

As a standard-bearer for affordable and approachable art acquisitions, the Other Art Fair seems to have found a version of the art world it can embrace.

Since it was founded in 2011, The Other Art Fair has made a point to distinguish itself from the throngs of events catering solely to one-percenters and VIPs. Instead, founder Ryan Stanier channeled 20 years of experience gained from working on major cultural tentpoles like London Fashion Week and Art Basel Hong Kong into something different. For more than a decade now, The Other Art Fair has created a welcoming atmosphere for the other 99 percent to learn their tastes, connect with independent artists and makers, and embark upon their first acquisitions. Approachability and affordability are hallmarks of the fair, which has editions in seven global cities including London, Sydney, Los Angeles, and returns to Brooklyn on November 9. 

While its founding principles are unwavering, every edition of the fair features local flair in the form of ancillary programming that exposes attendees to different disciplines of art. At the forthcoming Brooklyn edition, this will include both paintings and flash tattoos by local muralist, painter, and tattoo artist Evan Paul English. Fellow tattoo artist Maggie Stockman will also be onsite, executing her illustration-like tattoos. Bushwick-based graphic design and risograph studio Secret Riso Club will get visitors’ creative energies flowing with workshops on the process of printmaking and zinemaking, and burgeoning collectors can get an up-close look at the creative process with moving light video portraits by commercial and fine art photographer Tamara Staples. Coffee and food will be available from maman, a coffee shop and cafe founded in Montreal that has since become a staple of brownstone Brooklyn.

Of course, the fair’s most crucial endeavor is its work with independent artists and the local organizations that support them. In addition to the 120 exhibitors, both established and emerging, the fair is working closely with Arts Gowanus, Bed Stuy Art Residency, and Brooklyn-based popup gallery 3Walls. In all, the organizations are sponsoring booths for eight artists, six of whom are in residence at the former two nonprofits.  

While the fair may have emerged as a rejection of the industry’s overt trends towards elitism and exclusion, it has come to represent a more optimistic future. After all, Gowanus, once defined by its status as a Superfund site, now hosts a namesake arts hub in Arts Gowanus, and a leading AR/VR production studio in the ZeroSpace: a former warehouse that also hosts events including this year’s fair. Just a few blocks away, the neighborhood’s former “Batcave” has been reborn as Powerhouse Arts, which offers makers spaces and other support for ceramicists, print artists, and public installations. 

Neither the area’s growth, nor its future potential are lost on Stanier. “This Brooklyn edition reaffirms our commitment to community values, pays homage to local talent, and passionately champions emerging artists,” he says. “As Gowanus matures into an exciting center for art and craftsmanship, we’re excited about the thriving community and artistic diversity our fair has embodied since 2017, uniting the spirit of creativity with the boundless potential of a flourishing community.”

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