Spotlight on the Upcoming Inaugural Philadelphia Fine Art Fair

Spotlight on the Upcoming Inaugural Philadelphia Fine Art Fair

Freeman's Head of Modern & Contemporary Art, Dunham Townend, sat down with ShowHamptons' Founder and President, Rick Friedman, to discuss his group's new show, Philadelphia Fine Art Fair (PFAF) - Philadelphia 's first gallery-focused Fine Art Fair for Important Contemporary Art, which opens April 4th at the 23rd Street Armory.

03/27/2019     News and Film

DT: The ShowHamptons Group produces art fairs all over the nation. What drew you to Philadelphia for your newest fair venture?

RF: Over the past decade, we have produced luxury art fairs in the Hamptons, Aspen, Houston, San Francisco, Palm Springs, and Silicon Valley. What attracted me to Philly is its rich history in the creation and patronage of fine art. Few cities in the nation can match Philadelphia's mix of ingredients necessary for a successful art fair formula: a well cultured and educated huge population of 6.5 million within driving distance, 20+ regional arts museums (several rank in the top in the nation) filled with active members and art patrons, five art schools, 30 commercial galleries and an incredibly passionate and well funded local collector base. Not only is Philly "the mural capital of the nation", but it also has the largest collection of public sculpture in the nation. It even has its own auction house. There is literally art everywhere. Few, if any cities, can match this amazingly fertile art environment. Many famous artists are from the region and some insiders consider the state of Pennsylvania to be the urban art capital of the world, boasting Warhol, Haring and many others. Frankly, we are the only fine art fair physically between NYC and South Florida and that is a big gap. It is about time for the second largest city on the east coast to have an art fair it can call its own.

DT: How does the fair differ from other fairs in the city, either past or present?

RF: While other fairs currently or in the past focus on antiques, turn of the 20th century or modernism, this is the only contemporary art based, art gallery-driven, internationally -scoped fair. We present art that is in the fastest growing and most popular genre, contemporary art. We are unique in that way.

DT: What are some particular highlights of the fair and its programming that you are looking forward to sharing with our city's cultural clientele?

RF: Aside from the dazzling and eye-catching exhibits, we have a ton of inspirational programming. I invite you to explore and follow the confusing graphical logic in our special show, "The Magical World of M. C. Escher". Our panel discussion, A Passion for Possession: Collectors on Collecting is always a big hit. Fairgoers can meet with renowned artists, such as Pop legend Hunt Slonem, popular David Datuna, contemporary realist Daniel Sprick, and even a live demo by respected sculptor Chad Fisher. Visitors can discover the most esteemed artists in many genres including Latin American and Cuban art, Pop, Post-War, Contemporary, Urban, and Photorealism. With book signings and expert-led tours, there is something for everyone. We even are showing a film about local icon artist Jamie Wyeth.

“While other fairs currently or in the past focus on antiques, turn of the 20th century or modernism, this is [Philadelphia's] only contemporary art based, art gallery-driven, internationally-scoped fair.”

Rick Friedman, Founder & President, ShowHamptons LLC

DT: How do you define the Philadelphia Fine Arts Fair's relationship to the greater cultural fabric of the city?

RF: Philadelphia is known for its many public sculptures, about 1,100, which is the nation's largest collection. So to help raise money for the restoration and conservation of these sculptures (a huge undertaking), we created the SculptCare silent auction. All sale proceeds go to the City of Philadelphia Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy. I believe the fair is helping to set the tone for the emerging and fast-growing local interest in contemporary art. Now that the city has a fair it can call its own, the fair serves as a contemporary meeting spot for collectors, art patrons, galleries, artists, and museums to rally around locally.

DT: How would you describe the contemporary art scene in Philadelphia?

RF: With leading art schools, avid collectors, 30 galleries, and world-class museum exhibits specifically focusing on contemporary art themes, I would say that the local contemporary art scene is booming. New contemporary galleries and museums are soon to open across the region. Thousands of affluent young professionals are now discovering the beauty, satisfaction, and rewards of collecting contemporary art. The tide is coming in fast, and all boats will rise.

DT: This is your inaugural year here in Philadelphia. What are you hoping to achieve?

RF: We want to establish that Philadelphia is no longer just an antiques-oriented city, but a city with a passionate, well budgeted, and enthusiastic base for contemporary art. In uniting all of the powerful components that the city has: its public art collection, museums, art schools, the media, local galleries, and a veteran and emerging collector base, Philadelphia can be a prominent contemporary art powerhouse to be reckoned with. We intend to make Philly a regular stop on the national art fair circuit and the single stop between NYC and South Florida.

DT: For those who have never attended an art fair before, can you offer some tips about how to be a savvy visitor?

RF: My advice is to speak frankly to the gallery owners, who are experts. The fact that we are a boutique fair gives guests the opportunity to linger longer at each gallery location. Do your research. Google the artists. Attend the sessions. Take a guided tour. But in the end, don't be afraid to pull the trigger. If you like it, love it, and it speaks to you, buy it and take it home. You will have the enduring satisfaction, beauty, and sense of admiration and accomplishment on your wall that you live with daily. Ten years ago, I bought my first piece, a Lichtenstein print. Well, I caught the fever, Today, I own 300 museums quality paintings, including six by Jackson Pollock, and conduct my own public museum shows. This fair is an excellent place and time to start or grow an art collection. Even I have my eye on a few things. See you in the aisles.

Philadelphia's First Gallery-Focused Fine Art Fair for Important Contemporary Art

Featuring 35 prominent galleries, showcasing 300 respected artists, totaling $15+ million in important art for immediate acquisition

The inaugural Philadelphia Fine Art Fair (PFAF) is a tightly curated, boutique and impeccably designed fair providing attendees a casual and manageable viewing experience. Prices for artworks will range from $3,000 to $1 million+. There are "must have" treasures for every budget. The fair's highly – regarded galleries hail from 4 countries, 8 states, as well as a strong local representation.

Show Hours

Thursday, April 4th
Opening Night Preview
6pm to 10pm

Friday, April 5th
Show Hours | 11am to 7pm

Saturday, April 6th
Show Hours | 11am to 6pm

Sunday, April 7th
Show Hours | 11am to 5pm

Ample public parking lots nearby

Show Address & Directions

23rd Street Armory
22 South 23rd Street,
Philadelphia, PA

Ideally situated between the two main streets in Philadelphia, Market and Chestnut, the historic and well known 23rd St. City Troop Armory is just walking distance from the city's central train station (Amtrak's 30th St. Station) and on a major exit street from Route 676, the cross-town expressway.

Important Links


Exhibitors List:

Special Events:


Freeman's is delighted to provide complimentary day passes to its VIP clients. Please email Dunham Townend, Head of Modern and Contemporary Art, to request your pass: