There is a community feel to Nada. The New Art Dealers Alliance, a New York-based non-profit membership organisation, was founded in 2002 for emerging galleries, along with independent curators, artists and other art world professionals. This year 27 galleries will make their debut at Nada’s Miami fair. The 17th edition of Nada Miami — which opens next week, as one of the Art Basel Miami Beach satellite fairs — will feature 135 exhibitors from around the world.
“We believe that the adversarial approach to exhibiting and selling art has run its course,” reads Nada’s mission statement, highlighting its non-traditional approach to art world business.
“Nada hits the nail on the head,” says Will Lunn, director of the Copperfield London gallery, a newcomer at Nada Miami this year. “The same sentiment is at the heart of the way we work with our artists — you’d be surprised how many artists feel they are in a constant tug of war with their galleries — and our approach to fairs and projects. We will do several fairs this year in collaboration with Harlan Levey [Belgium] and Careva gallery [Latvia].”
In Miami, Lunn will present works by British-Ghanaian artist Larry Achiampong, whose prices range from around $2,000 for editions to over $35,000 for larger works. “We will bring works mostly priced under $15,000,” he adds.
Gallery members of Nada, currently 157 in total, pay an annual fee of $300 (its fairs are open to members and non-members alike). Members benefit from year-round events programming; tapping into the Nada network has proved beneficial for galleries in cities off the beaten art track.
“Operating outside of major art world capitals, it’s helpful to have access to a larger community within art centres such as New York,” says Matt Ducklo, founder of Tops Gallery in Memphis. His gallery is making its debut at Nada Miami this year.
“Most of Tops Gallery’s sales come from collectors outside of Memphis and that doesn’t happen without a collegial approach,” Ducklo says. “The most interesting artists in Memphis, and probably in most of the South, have a difficult time finding a context or market for their work. I was excited about showing different artists’ work that maybe fell through gaping cracks in what constitutes ‘the art world’.”
Tops will present a solo booth of US artist Kevin Ford’s paintings at Nada Miami. “In addition to paintings, Ford has created a treatment for the booth that mimics the Tops Gallery space. The prices will range from $2,000 to $6,000,” Ducklo says.
Another newcomer, Fragment Gallery, will show a solo booth of works by the US artist Pacifico Silano that were the subject of a censorship row last year in Bal Harbour village, Miami Beach. Silano’s images ($2,500 to $7,500) depict aspects of queer life from the gay pornography collection of former Whitney curator Richard Marshall. City officials objected to some images that included partial nudity.
“One of the themes of Silano’s work is the HIV/Aids crisis and this problem is still important . . . so we thought we should return his important body of work to Miami,” says Sergey Gushchin, founder of Fragment Gallery.
Collectors like Nada’s outsider status — though the fair has arguably become part of the art world establishment — and are drawn to the younger crowd of dealers and more affordable prices.
“I think Nada is a good place to find work,” says US collector Carole Server. “It is not an alternative to Art Basel Miami Beach; it is a great addition.” “Nada is certainly a crucial way of introducing important new voices in both the gallery and artist world to the international stage,” says Alex Gartenfeld, artistic director of ICA Miami.
In a surprise move earlier this year, Nada cancelled its New York fair, which usually takes place each March around the Armory fair (Nada lost its venue, Skylight Clarkson Square, and was unable to find another within its relatively modest budget as a non-profit organisation). Nada then threw a curveball by launching Chicago Invitational, a 35-strong exhibitor fair which opened at the historic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel in September. “We’ve always wanted to hold a smaller fair, and have several Nada gallery members in Chicago,” said a Nada spokeswoman.
Nada Miami acts as a barometer, reflecting the challenges of the current commercial climate for small and midsize galleries. In the past five years, mid-market gallery closures have continued, proof that this sector is under pressure.
Finding alternative business models is thus key for fledgling gallerists. Jeanine Hofland of Althuis Hofland Fine Arts gallery in Amsterdam, another Nada Miami newcomer this year, comments: “Most of our sales derive from external activities such as fairs [or] via the internet . . . we are rethinking the gallery-space model, and are currently researching the alternatives; [we are] not saying we prefer to operate without a space, but we are considering moving outside of the city centre or finding a house where we can live and work from.”
The gallery will show works by the Dutch painter Marliz Frencken, the New York-based painter Austin Eddy and the Zimbabwean artist Gareth Nyandoro (prices for works on the stand range from $2,500 to $8,000). “We are experiencing a shift,” Hofland adds.
Susan Laney of Laney Contemporary Fine Art Gallery, another Nada newbie, will present a solo booth of sculptures by the South Korea-born artist Jiha Moon, ranging in price from $750 to $6,000.
Nada’s collegial ethos particularly appeals to Laney, who is based in Savannah, away from established art world centres. “I think we do exactly what Nada hopes to do, in breaking down the art world ‘BS’ and getting back to a love of art, artists and community,” she says.
December 5-8, newartdealers.org
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