>> The obvious reason to attend big New York City craft fairs is to select items from a wide-array of imaginative, high-quality merchandise. Attend craft fairs as stimulating events in and of themselves, however, if you are simply art-curious, or have big ideas backed by a skimpy budget.
It's at New York's art and craft fairs where you can:
- Meet art-world celebrities at almost every booth. Keep in mind that while you can attend plays, concerts and other art-related events, seldom do you meet the artists themselves. The opposite is true at a craft fair!
- Expand your awareness of pattern and design.
- Expose your children to productive artists
- Find out more about art-related colleges and universities. Many exhibitors are also instructors.
- Buy products for your own boutique or small shop. Yes, craft fairs provide "tradeshow" wholesale buying opportunities.
- Participate in craft-fair related seminars, many of which are free.
- Soak up atmosphere. Many craft fairs also feature live entertainment.
- Observe other craft fair attendees. Check out their clothing, jewelry, and other personal trappings as style indicators.
- Exchange tips and techniques with exhibitors that are related to your special interests.
- Snack on great food, either on the premises or in nearby restaurants.
- Treasure-hunt. Make a game of seeking items within a certain price-range, type, color, or material.
Craft Fairs When and Where
New York City craft fairs cluster in the spring, fall, and winter holiday-season. Some, like those put on at the Lincoln Center, showcase American artists, and others, world-class artisans. Entrance prices are reasonable, with some of the best fairs being free. Currently, the top ticket fee is approximately $15.
One of the best reasons to visit New York is to attend the free, dual-weekend Lincoln Center events. You'll see artist booths spread out over the entire Lincoln Center plaza area, with at least 200 different artists each weekend. Wow!
Other free, dual-weekend shows are held spring and fall on Columbus Avenue between 66th and 86th Streets, and at Washington Square, near the New York University Campus.
Multi-weekend free shows are common during the winter holiday season, with outdoor display areas featuring imported merchandise and indoor space leaning toward American art. And not to be overlooked are the year-around free sales galleries of MOMA (Museum of Modern Art) and other museums.
Free juried shows in which artists compete for display areas tend to be held in or around great buildings, such as The Rockefeller Center and The Grand Central Terminal, making the destination as interesting as the events themselves.
Fee-based craft shows are held in picturesque communities such as in New Jersey's Morristown and Summerset, and New York's ultra-fabulous Tarrytown (a short day trip) and in Long Island.
New York City's historic Seventh Regiment Armory Building on the Upper East Side is also frequently used to stage high-end shows that include crafts, Oriental imports, and antiques. Other beautiful locations, such as the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, are periodically used for craft fair events, too.
Happily, at most shows (free or fee) you'll find items for $20, with a wide range of things available between $75 and $180. Wearable art in the form of jackets, capes, and dresses tends to start at $300, with tailored things going for between $650 to $900.
If you lust after wearable art, but have a tight budget, purchase hand-woven or sculpted scarves, blouses, hats, purses, and cloth ornamentation priced from $70 to $180. And, of course, jewelry is available at all price ranges, with many pieces selling between $45 and $250.
If you've dreamed of shopping at Saks or Bergdorf Goodman, but just can't afford their goods, splurge at New York craft fairs! Prices at the fairs are well below what is sold in upscale department stores, with the items often being produced by the very same designers. (Where do you think buyers for high-end stores get their ideas, anyway?)
The Lincoln Center Crafts Fair
Photos on the right are from the September 2004 fair.
The amazing, free, Lincoln Center Crafts Fair is reason enough to visit the city! If you stay for a full week, you'll be treated to 200 different artists on each weekend of the event, plus you have the option to attend free demonstrations hosted by various art and craft luminaries.
Plan on spending at least a half-day each weekend strolling around the site. In addition to seeing crafts, the campus is beautiful, musicians are present, and for a bonus, you can explore the great concert halls.
Comfortable seating at the Lincoln Center, however, is "hard" to come by as almost all surfaces are concrete. Worse, if the weather is beautiful, the grounds are packed, limiting what places are available near the food court, or are under shade.
Very fortunately, there are plenty of world-class, reasonably-priced, gourmet cafes and restaurants across the street from the Lincoln Center, along Columbus Avenue and Broadway. I especially recommend the The Cafe Fiorello (between 63rd and 64th), where food service and cosmopolitan ambiance is perfect for brunch, afternoon snacking, and evening dining.
More Information on Area Craft Fairs
For more information on New York's craft fairs, stay up-to-date with magazines like TimeOut New York, the weekend edition of The New York Times, and the following links:
www.LincolnCenter.org - The Lincoln Center for Performing Arts. Check their calendar for concerts, special events such as craft fairs, and affiliate news (Juilliard School performances, film festivals, jazz, theater festivals, ballet, opera, and far more).
American Concern for Art and Craftsmanship, a promoter of the Lincoln Center Crafts Fairs,
PO Box 650, Montclair, NJ 07042. 973 746-0091
www.AmericanCraftMarketing.com - An American Craftsman has sponsored shows at the Lincoln Center. In 2005, however, it hosts an early-May show at The Rockefeller Center, and in November, a show in Westfield, NJ. This company, owned by Richard Rothbard and Joanna Rothbard, also has several beautiful stores in New York City that showcase art selected from their fairs. The Rothbards are also wood crafters who own www.Boxology.com, a company that produces intricate, wooden, puzzle-box containers.
www.Artrider.com: Artrider hosts stimulating, fee-based craft fairs in New York City at the Seventh Regiment Armory on Park Avenue, in upstate New York at Lyndhurst, in Connecticut at Gilford, and in New Jersey at Morristown.
www.SugarLoafCrafts.com: Sugarloaf craft events take place in New Jersey (a very beautiful state) and in many eastern states.
Crafts on Columbus Avenue: American Arts & Crafts Alliance, 425 Riverside Drive, Room 15H, New York, NY 10025. (212)-866-2239. The Alliance's fall fair is usually held on three weekends beginning in early October. Their three week spring fair begins in early May, or the end of April.
Special events on Columbus Avenue are posted at www.ColumbusAvenueBiD.org. Events are announced in a PDF newsletter which will specifically mention the American Arts & Crafts Alliance, along with other fairs.
Washington Square Art Exhibit: 115 E. 9th Street, Room 7C, New York, NY 10003
Questions or comments?
Veronica Casares-Lee, whose pottery is seen here, is a ceramic artist and New York-area art instructor who produces a wide array of sculptures, pottery, and tiles reflecting her Mexican heritage. Also see her work at spring and winter holiday events at The Grand Centeral Terminal. www.arteitelphotography.com/lee 516 944-6765
I own several pieces by Gail Markiewicz of Woodbridge, CT. Her work ranges from pots to ceramic sculpture, all lush with pressed-in designs made from rope, doilies, and other materials. www.CMCeramicArt.com
Kate Bishop of Kate Bishop Hats and Flowers (Petaluma, CA) makes wearable art as happy and upbeat as she looks here. www.KateBishop.com
Textile artist Anna Shapiro of Jamaica Plain, MA (right) knits unusual fabrics from which she sculpts scarves, capes and other soft, wearable art. www.AnnaEsthetic.com
Pictured here is Peter Blanchette playing a classical guitar of his own design. What I loved about his performance is that he never seemed to stop playing. To buy a CD, all you had to do was put money a case, make your own change, then take a recording. www.Archguitar.com
Here is a woman who obviously loves wearable art! The scarves she's looking at are by Kristina Akkerman, a Chicago Art Institute instructor, who paints silk, then stitches it in ways that are almost sculptural. You can contact her directly at Krisline@onebox.com
Here is an example of rich silks created by Marijke and Rick Benedict of Allenwood, PA, under the name of Stijfselkissie Ltd. You can contact them directly at email@example.com
Note that while ceramics and wearable art are featured in the pictures above, the Lincoln Center show had jewelry of all types, leather crafts (purses, wallets, coats, vests), blown glass, woodcrafts, sculptures, dinnerware, and far more.