The folks at Fridge Art Fair (Miami Beach) want you to have fun. Their fair is, of course, interested in selling art but they are every bit as much about visitors seeing the art, being exposed to it, as them making a purchase. The fair is artist-run and focused on alternative art made by those nebulous “others” of the art world.
But mostly the fair is about you.
“We want everyone to feel welcome. I’ve been to fairs where I didn't feel welcome and that is a crummy feeling.” says Eric Ginsburg, founder and director of the fair. “I want to give back. I’ve been lucky in the art world.”
The playful, community oriented, “give back” approach and vibe of the fair stands in contrast to many others. This is not an indictment of anyone just evidence of the fact that to create a massively successful event like Miami’s Art Week you need fairs with a myriad of attitudes.
"I think we are all encompassing, definitely emerging artist but we have blue chip as well. We are all over the place which is what makes us different.” says Ginsburg.
Ginsburg is quick to point out that they really want emerging artists and one way they get them is by offering artist affordable rates.
“Our fees are so low they barely act to cover cost.” he says. “We want to give people a chance who cannot afford to pay $10,000 for a fair. For us it is about the experience we want people to have fun.”
Look for more on Fridge Art Fair's Artists & Galleries Soon
“We have a New York fair during Frieze week. The first fair (2013) was at Gallery OneTwentyEight, the first gallery on the lower east side.” says Ginsburg.
The first fair was an immediate success was followed by fairs in Miami in 2013 and 2014. A truly remarkable part of the fair is how it began in New York and within that same year had a fair put together in Miami. This year the fair has moved to Miami Beach.
Moving the fair to Miami in 2013 wasn’t a cakewalk. Miami is a different animal from New York. Ginsburg spent years in New York and new it well
“I know New York and I am learning Miami.” he says. “We’ve been so lucky with who we’ve worked with.”
Co-director of Fridge, Cara Hunter-Viera, is one of those bits of luck personified. Hunter-Viera, a friend from law school, has been involved since the first Fridge fair in Miami and the move to Miami Beach.
“As much as we liked being off the beaten path, a hidden little spot with an underground feeling, this year we felt the artists deserved more,” says Hunter-Viera. “ Wynwood? We felt it had been done. What they have going in Wynwood was great but not for us.”
These days she deals with finding the venue, artists and everything it takes to put things together. She says designing the fair is beyond her purview.
“That is very Eric. Popsicles and bounce houses? That is all Eric.” sas Hunter-Viera.
"There is a thriving art scene down here and there is a Miami look--hybrid of street art and fine art,” says Ginsburg. “I remember downtown was scary, the art district was dying district that was a little desolate.”
Ginsburg says that it is interesting that the cities involved, Miami and Miami Beach, do so much to support the fairs and support art in general. He says it is unlike anywhere else.
Hunter-Viera notes that she had no idea that the art world could be “dirty” until last year.
“We’ve had to cut ties with people who had different motivation--finances, fame...Their goals cannot jeopardise our goals with Fridge,” she says. “The people’ I’ve worked dealt with, for the most part--99 percent...hmm let’s say 95 percent have been great. It’s been amazing working with them.”
She said the key to dealing with anything turbulent was simple; trust Eric.
Ginsburg grew up in Washington where the museums were open and everyone had free access. He lived in New York City where there is art everywhere and everyone can be exposed to it should they choose to be. Then there are the art fairs.
“Fairs and they are geared toward a certain type of person--we are too--but we want everyone to come, we are all artists, we are not doing it for money--money would be nice but it isn’t the point.” says Ginsburg. “We want to give artists a chance--and have a boutique-ish feel for the visitors and collectors.”
And visitors come back to Fridge every year.
“There is a reason why we have so many repeat visitors. There is this feeling; people don’t walk through and are done. They want to hang around.” says Hunter-Viera.
Fridge want you to come to their fair to see the art. If you buy? Wonderful, if you don’t you will have had an important experience. Even their benefit is open to the public. Sure, the aim is to raise money but they want you there. They not only want you to breeze through, they want you to hang around.
Fridge is a less “curated” fair than many others (we didn’t get a chance to talk specifics with Fridge curator, Linda DiGusta) but there is no heavy hand regarding everything a gallery or artist puts in their booth. Fridge chooses the gallery or artist and trusts them with their booth.
“You get a booth and you can do what you want. People get a booth and they can go wild.” says Ginsburg.
Holiday Inn Miami Beach, 4333 Collins Ave. Miami Beach (43rd & Collins Ave at beach boardwalk).
4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Thursday, December 3
11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Friday, December 4 and Saturday December 5
11:00 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, December 6
The Fridge Art Fair Grand Fudge Pop Gala to Benefit the LGBT Visitor Center of Miami Beach
7 to 10 p.m., Thursday, December 3. Featuring An Evening with Sweetie Starring drag superstar, Sweetie. There will be a screening of the documentary, Charmed Life, in honor of Fridge's gala hostess, Sweetie. at 1 p.m. Friday December 4 at Fridge Art Fair.
Fridge and Churchill's Pub present hot artists and performers from Miami in the Fair's sculpture garden from 3 to 6 p.m. daily. These events are supervised by Emcee "Battle Funk."
Fridge and Centre-Fuge present street artists from New York City, Miami and beyond at Miami's venerable, Churchill's Pub (5501 NE 2nd Ave, Miami).
Fridge Grand Fudge Pop Pre Party at the LGBT Visitor's Center of Miami Beach (1130 Washington Ave.). Opens 7 p.m. Wednesday, December 2. Hosted by Churchill's the event will feature a "Miami Legend." (suggested donation $20). There will be art and the exhibit runs throughout art week.
The B.A.R.C. Project by Eric Ginsburg
Fair director Ginsburg and many other artists paint pet portraits with proceeds benefiting the Brooklyn Animal Rescue Coalition Project. Bring in a photo and leave with a portrait of your pet, while helping B.A.R.C. save the lives of others looking for their forever homes.