I keep hearing that dealers don’t ever tell press the truth about sales, but when absolutely everyone in a 50-foot radius has the same story, I think we can draw some basic conclusions. By almost all accounts, NADA did fabulously yesterday. “This morning it was like a feeding frenzy,” Invisible Exports dealer Benjamin Tischer told a group of friends as his partner Risa Needleman huddled in a corner of her booth nibbling on something greasy from a paper bag. “Have you eaten today?” I asked her, though the answer was clear. “No!” Needleman chirped resolutely.
AFC missed this frenzy, which for whatever reason ended at around 2 PM. “It was like a dinner bell rang,” Kerry Schuss told me, as showed off a series Robert Moscowitz works in his booth. The most colorful of Moscowitz’s envelope drawings had already sold, but two new minimalist compass-based works remained. “I’m going to change the booth Saturday,” Schuss told me, before going on to discuss how much he liked hanging exhibitions. It shows.
According to one dealer who wished to remain anonymous, “It’s like this every year. The locusts come and depart and it will happen again tomorrow.” Then, as if for emphasis, she added, “I’ll be disappointed if I don’t sell tomorrow.”
That’s the kind of confidence that comes from a lot of sales, a story I heard repeatedly as I made my way throughout the fair. In fact, as far as I could tell, the only people who weren’t already claiming success were those relegated to the periphery of the fair. A small stripe of projects on the right side of the Richelieu section went almost unnoticed, a problem since these are often the spaces that need the most help. “The projects people I know are taking huge risks by being here,” Andrea Merx of Bureau Gallery told me. Justin Luke, whose Audio Visual Arts booth is located in that section of the fair, lamented the positioning as well. “We all know it’s an issue,” he told me, but he noted that many of the dealers were working to bring people to that section of the fair.
That camaraderie is common at NADA, as we learned last year when talking to CANADA’s Phil Grauer. It helps build the fair, and allows collectors to connect to strong work at project booths they might not find by themselves.
And this year, there’s just as much good art as there’s ever been. That quality may account for the large sales volume, though it’s always difficult to say why collectors buy anything. Perhaps for this reason, Ingrid Bromberg Kennedy at Klaus von Nichtssagend was quick to reflect on years prior, after acknowledging their success just a few hours prior. “After having lived through 2009…” she began, but failed to complete the sentence. She started again; “I feel like I’ve lived through the depression, and can never waste anything!”