By Alec Giufurta
After a year of pandemic, economic turmoil and isolation, artists from the East End and afar will be together again at last — Market Art and Design is back this year with its largest show yet.
Over 80 galleries will take up booths at the festival this year — its 10th in-person event. In 2020, the festival went online, with around 30 galleries participating through an e-commerce platform.
“We are so grateful to be working with our galleries again,” said Kelly Freeman, director of business development for the event.
Ms. Freemans’s company, Art Market Productions, manages a host of art festivals around the country. She said this is their first in-person fair since the pandemic’s start, and that the sheer size of the show has her hopes up for a successful event — and economic recovery for local artists.
“It’s a testament to the strength of the collecting power out here, and the enthusiasm that the Hampton community has for cultural events,” she said, nothing that many local art galleries actually were financially stable during the pandemic.
What was once a fiercely competitive trifecta of regional art festivals now has just one remaining survivor. Art Southampton and Art Hamptons both canceled their 2017 editions and never returned.
Revenue for the event comes from three streams: fees paid by galleries to show their work at the event; fostership revenues; and money from ticket sales.
“It’s not all of our eggs just in one basket,” Ms. Freeman said. “We can come out of a down time with the availability to reinvest into a community”
This year, ticketing sales are stronger than usual, she noted — attendance is expected to be anywhere between 10,000 and 12,000 people.
For artists, the opportunity to have their work in new spaces is both a value to the creative process and financially.
“When you see it in person, it has a whole different meaning behind it,” said Karyn Mannix, a dealer based in East Hampton. She has 18 local artists in her booth, and said her artists actually did exceptionally well during the pandemic financially.
Andrea McCafferty, director of The White Room Gallery — which happens to be just across the street from the event’s location — said that although many artists did quite well during the pandemic financially, the event has value regardless.
“Seeing their artwork in different venues … It’s very powerful for the artist,” she said.
Ms. McCafferty — who’s gallery ran the largest booth at the event in 2019 — explained that locally, many residents redesigned and redecorated their homes during the pandemic, providing opportunities for artists to sell their work.
“People have been in their homes staring at blank white walls, and they’re ready to buy art,” she said.
Bob Tabor, a equine and seascape photographer, will have his work displayed in the White Room Gallery’s booth. He said he’s excited to be back in the art community on the East End.
“This has been such a horrific year of self-imposed exile,” Mr. Tabor said. “I’ve created so much new work with excitement and energy, and I’m so looking forward to seeing people’s eyes when they see the work at the show.”
In the wake of 2020’s movement for racial justice, the Gugsa Black Arts Collective — which will be at booth C07 — is looking forward to brining the work of their artists to the event. The Collective seeks to build connections and opportunities for early and mid-career Black artists.
“Seeing the intensity of the last year infused into these artworks is really spectacular,” Albab Dabela, founder of Gugsa Black Arts Collective, wrote in an email. “Themes rang[ing] from the initial upheaval and isolation through to the triumph and return to social spaces really come through in the art created while the world grappled with COVID and all types of racial and economic turmoil.”
Market Art and Design will run from August 12-15 on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Museum. Single day tickets are available for $25, and a four-day fair pass is selling for $50. Tickets can be purchased at artmarkethamptons.com/tickets.