Fridge Art Fair: Brooklyn Welcomes a Frida Kahlo-Inspired Nonprofit Alternative Art Fair

Savannah Camastro

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The concept of Fridge Art Fair started one night when Eric Ginsburg, the founder, and his friends were at a bar in the Lower East Side during Frieze Art Week. They were discussing the renowned fair over a few beers when the idea of starting their own fair made its way into the conversation. “The idea was kind of a joke, kind of serious. But it ended up turning into a real thing,” Ginsburg told Bushwick Daily. The first fair was held in a small Lower East Side gallery, OneTwentyEight. Because of how small the space was, the running joke was “can you fit your art in the fridge?” Now going on eight years, Fridge Art Fair will be taking place at the Nu Hotel in Downtown Brooklyn from April 30 to May 5.

The art fair is not like other art fairs, where big galleries and superstar artists sell works to major collectors at astronomical prices. Rather, Fridge is different every year and usually tends to reflect the artists and work being exhibited; “Sometimes there are booths, sometimes it’s more like a big gallery show, it just really depends,” Ginsburg said.  

As a nonprofit organization, Fridge doesn’t require exhibiting artists and galleries to pay for their slot. That being said, Fridge is made possible by donations from both the public and personal contributions. “It’s a mixture of artists we’ve reached out to as well as friends who are artists. Fridge is for everyone, and always will be,” Ginsburg told Bushwick Daily.  “It’s our mission to create an art fair without borders; walls or barriers regardless pertaining to cost.”  

Past fair. Photo courtesy of Eric Ginsburg.

From concept to opening night the work of the Fair is completed in a collaborative, inclusive, and spontaneous fashion. “We have regular meetings to address the Fair concepts, the call for entry, the curation of space, and opening festivities. It’s a fun collaboration and we are always grateful for each person who is able to donate time to its success,” director Natalie Fisk told Bushwick Daily.

One thing that is consistent about the fair is that it follows a new theme every year. This year, the  theme is “Fridge Does Frida” in conjunction with the Brooklyn museum’s exhibition on the Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo, Appearances Can Be Deceiving. “Frida was strong, fearless, and colorful, and that’s what this year’s fair is going to be,” Ginsburg said. As Kahlo said herself, “I must fight with all my strength so that the little positive things that my health allows me to do might be pointed toward helping the revolution. The only real reason for living.”

Throughout the week of the fair, there will be different events held in the gallery space. The opening event, Frozen “Marga-Frida: Si! Se! Puede! Viva La Grande Gala” will be hosted by the Gowanus Swim Society, Fridge’s director Natalie Fisk’s art collective. There will be drinks, music, and a “Petting Zoo” handcrafted by Ginsburg himself which will be on display throughout the course of the fair. There will also be a Cinco de Mayo celebration on the final day of the fair.

Past fair. Photo courtesy of Eric Ginsburg.

Fridge will be held in the lobby of the Nu Hotel in downtown Brooklyn. The hotel itself fosters the local artists community in various ways. Their NU Perspectives Mural Program has an ongoing open call in which artists can apply to for a chance to be commissioned to do a mural in one of the hotel’s guest rooms. Fisk is also the creative liaison of the hotel and runs the hotel’s gallery space, PBX, which hosts pop-up events, fundraisers, and exhibitions.

Fridge focuses on shedding light on emerging artists, as well as artists still in school. This year, Bushwick artist Rosa Miranda, will be showing her work at Fridge. “Frida Kahlo is one of my biggest inspirations. A lot of my work deals with my personal health issues as did Frida’s, so it’s cool that I can be a part of a show that honors her,” Miranda told Bushwick Daily, “I want my art to be accessible to everyone.” Miranda supports Fridge’s “art for everyone” approach and thinks it’s a wonderful opportunity for emerging artists to start their career.

Fridge is not just a Brooklyn-based fair, but has also made its way down to Art Basel Miami. “It’s literally an upstart who has refused to conform to the ideals that drive fairs as big as Art Basel Miami,” Blouin Artinfo said of the fair’s Miami booth back in 2014. Just as it’s doing here, Fridge is challenging the heavy transactional drive that typically dominates the artworld.

Fridge is sponsored by KYO Gallery, the NU Hotel, ArtPublika, Pinky’s Space, and by public donation. The fair starts on April 30 and runs until May 5.

Cover image courtesy of Rosa Miranda’s art, via Instagram.

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