My experience at my first international Art Expo was a wild roller coaster! The immense anticipation, the sleepless nights getting ready, heading to New York alone to take this on. Normally my husband Mark would be there, but he went back to NZ to have fun with our 14 year old, and now I totally realize how much work he does when I have a show!
I arrived in NYC 6 days prior to work on all the behind the scenes stuff. Hanging day arrives. Jason and I arrive at Pier 94 with power drills, hammers and screw as well as a few smaller artworks under our arms. (Jason was roped in to help by my dear friend Giarna) We find the booth number S428 (the S for [SOLO] as Art Expo New York is a combination of both international galleries and individual artists exhibiting). All my crates are already there. It’s a hive of activity with the crews all around still building the booths, what a massive logistical challenge!
I always get a huge buzz opening my crates to rediscover my artworks when I haven’t seen them for awhile, they are my babies! (I live in NZ and they have been with my gallery in Connecticut)
We follow the hanging plan and after a few hours they are all on the walls. Jason jumps on his bike to pick up things from the printer and other errands. The labels and go decal up and all postcards and my bio, all laid out on the table ready for opening tomorrow. Home for an attempt at sleep and then the excitement of my brother arriving from Canada tomorrow!
Sonia Richter Vintage Clothing Artist Booth S428 Art Expo New York 2018
From left: Madame Butterfly, Flight of Passage, Tribute to David Bowie, A Night at the Casino Royale, The Unusual Suspects II and Suspended
The four days of Art Expo were huge. For me it was pretty much constant talking! The RMG group that organize these expos, gave us plenty of advice and video seminars leading up to the opening. One of their key bits of advice was not to sit down, leave phones and computers alone. So I bounced around in front of my booth, giving people easy access, then I’d bound on in and chat.
For me, the coolest thing was seeing the response to my work. I know that I have come across something new and different; a unique fusion of painting, sculpture, art and fashion…it’s why I have been busting my balls over the past few years to paint and see how far I could push it before I found anyone else doing anything similar! Hiding out in my studio at the bottom of the world was a great place to find something unique. So to have the art public of New York to swing by my booth, to be stopped in their tracks and to ohhhh and ahhhhh over my art, filled me with immense joy. And then I’d say, “but there is one more” and I’d take them around the corner to see Faunification and oh, I just love watching the reaction to that piece…it’s a two fold: of first they see the darkness and then the immense masculine energy and virility…it melts my heart.
2016 Acrylic on jacket on board with goat horns, matagouri and rusted wire – framed 4’6” x 3’5” x 0’10”
Some of my favorite moments:
My brother was videoing on Facebook live, this man walked past and said to me, whilst pointing at Faunification, “Best in show!”
I was away for a moment, a Russian man said to my brother: “The first time in 20 years of coming to this event, that a booth has stopped me in my tracks with something totally new”
A Russian woman was totally taken with Between Everything and Nothing and said, “that is my story…” She didn’t want to share it with me then, but she will email me soon...can't wait!
And this lovely young woman in her 20s kept bouncing up and down saying “this is outright the coolest f..(covered mouth)g...shit I have ever seen!”
Just a few of the fabulous reactions I had :)
Hanging with my brother Eiko Jones - finally a wine at the end of day one!
Being surrounded by artists all on a similar journey is really special. I immediately bonded with two: the darling Guadalupe Laiz, a photographer originally from Argentina, but now dividing her time between living in Aspen and photographing the horses of Iceland; and Elena Lobanowa, with her wild pop art portraits, from Germany. She couldn’t speak English, so it was a good chance for me to practice my German!
There were other artist I met during the weekend as we briefly dashed out to the rest rooms or for coffee. Mostly you didn’t want to leave your booth in case you missed someone! But I now have a great new gaggle of artist friends from all over the world.
My neighbouring booths and new artist friends: Guadalupe Laiz and Elena Lobanowa
And then there were the guests…I seriously have never spoken so much in four days, I can’t believe I still had my voice at the end. The organizers advise us to choose whom to speak with; to conserve energy and to focus on sales. But being who I am, I want talk to everyone! I love hearing peoples stories, where their interest in art comes from, there reactions to my art, why they aren’t creating when they should…part of my role on this planet is to inspire, and I am happy to be doing that.
Here is one abridged message I received a week after expo:
“Hello beautiful Sonia… I was very drawn to your pieces for several reasons...true creativity stands…..life's complications, and yes, women seem to find them easily, led me to commercial art = $, but you said it, frustration comes when you aren't producing...so instead of just looking, your radiance and lovely personality kept me there but your spirit and words gave me much thought, I could identify with you, you gave me a glimpse of what might have been…I look forward to catch up again”
This is the stuff that matters to me. Knowing that my art inspires, but also my energy and enthusiasm.
Here are a few of the wild cats I met:
1. Sol Hill with a great artwork with Trump phrases like 'This is the best art ever!' 2. Jose Neto and his bf, they were sooooo much fun! Jose makes the belts they are wearing. 3. The lovely Jeff and his coat my husband would drawl over 4. The dynamic Purely Patricia best dressed woman i have seen in NY so far! 5. I dragged TJ from @sixfootphotos over as his jacket was so cool! 6. This guy was already posing so i got a shot too
We had a ball getting photos of these characters with my Tribute to David Bowie!
So the weeks since Expo…Mark joined me in NYC and we have been catching up with friends we made during my exhibition at Ora Gallery last year. Emailing all of the people I met at Art Expo New York, and following up on any leads. Rounded out by seeing more art at galleries and checking out the other art fairs to see how they compared to Art Expo (there was only 5 on last weekend! We made it to 4 before running out of puff) and doing lots of planning and goal setting.... I fall in love with New York more every week!
Thanks so much for taking the time and for coming along on this wild journey with me...friends, family and followers, you make my heart sing! (lucky it's not my voice!)
As of today I have news....but it'd make this blog post even longer, soooooo, hear my latest news in my next post :)
Peace, love and paint splattered clothing
A few photos below to show the contrast of my March in Arctic Canada to my February in NYC...
I was in the remote arctic regions of Canada when I was accepted into Art Expo New York. The contrast was huge -36 to +26deg C. Aurora over a snow castle to the sun set over Manhattan. Sliding down an ice slide to a crazy indoor slide in someones home... Laying on frozen ice roads and crossing the Hudson River; and creating our Tail Gate Cafe as there was just no one and nothing for miles and miles and we thought it'd be a laugh if someone drove past, but no one ever did... to the most delicious desert at The Musket Room!
My brother, Eiko Jones, is an amazing photographer and covers a diverse range of topics from coral and sharks found in the ocean depths, to the wild plains of Africa and so many topics in between. Here is one of his amazing large format images of Manhattan he got whilst here!