The Love Art fair has arrived in Toronto. A branch of the international Affordable Art Fair, Love Art champions the philosophy that fine-art collecting and economic accessibility should not be mutually exclusive, and aims to create new art collectors while also providing a forum for emerging and established artists to showcase and sell their works. Definitions of affordability and accessibility are certainly subjective, but with prices starting at $60, Love Art is endeavouring to make the acquisition of art possible for a wider range of people.
It’s no accident that Love Art has set up shop here. “I spent 18 months researching Canada,” said Nicole Milkovich, Love Art’s fair director. She was impressed by the sheer number of galleries and museums in the city, calling that “a good sign for an arts-engaged audience.” And she discovered a large population of young professionals, the fair’s target clientele: they’re often new home or condo owners, who are looking to decorate and personalize their space. But many people are intimidated by the prospect of buying art. “Friends have asked if they have to pay to even go into a gallery,” Milkovich said, pointing to a general lack of awareness or education about art. By creating a welcoming, casual environment for the fair—and an encouraging range of prices—she hopes to promote more widespread engagement with the art world.
Love Art’s prices range from $60 for something like an unframed print to almost $10,000 for a wall-spanning portrait: works under $1,000 are highlighted in each booth. Sarah Henstra, a 40-year-old English professor at Ryerson University, found that Love Art was living up to its mission statement. She came to the fair as a “personal celebration for publishing a novel,” having decided on a spending limit of $1,500—which she felt was low for art collecting—and found the fair refreshing compared to previous experiences with the art world. “There aren’t any diamonds and high heels,” said Henstra. She was also impressed by the presence of many local galleries providing contemporary art. “It gives a sense of community involvement,” she said, adding the she intended to follow up with some of the artists and galleries about future works, even if she didn’t end up purchasing anything at the fair itself.
By contrast, Cameron MacNeil, a 34-year-old interior decorator attending the fair to source artworks for his clients, felt the fair’s appeal might ultimately be more selective. “It’s for someone with more cash,” he said. He found the gallery representatives friendly, the works on display diverse, and the space manageable and approachable, but commented, “This isn’t for someone 25 and starting out.” Although he’d seen some smaller works going for several hundred dollars, he reported that the average going rate seemed to be about $1,500—making the price point better suited to clients like, say, a 38-year-old lawyer. “This is more for second-home buyers,” said MacNeil.
For some of the exhibitors, the fair was less about the prices and more about the opportunity. The Recent Graduates Exhibition, for example, involved a showcase booth for recent art school grads without formal representation. “There’s a synergy … with people who haven’t bought art before, or who are intimidated by the kind of presence of really established art fairs,” said Arianne Di Nardo, the exhibition’s curator. “A lot of people here are going to be buying art for the first time, and a lot of young people are going to be exhibiting for the first time.” Love Art provided grads with booth space they couldn’t have afforded on their own, and Di Nardo was hopeful that because of the fair, some of them would obtain representation—whether with a gallery, dealer, or agent.
Emily McInnes, director of Eye Buy Art and an exhibitor at the fair, summed up the fair’s art-buying experience by saying, “You can spend the same as you would for something at Ikea, while supporting a new and emerging artist.”