Where and how to buy affordable art in Philly this weekend

The Art for the Cash Poor event can help new collectors or buyers looking for deals

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Debbie Lopez

In the market for affordable art? All the work at this weekend’s Art for the Cash Poor event will be under $200.

Rachel Zimmerman, founder of arts nonprofit InLiquid and an artist herself, launched the fair as an annual event 18 years ago. Many artists bring cards and pins to sell for about $1. Others might price every piece at $199. But Zimmerman says that much of the offerings fall in the $30 to $50 range. It’s essentially a chance to buy art that artists might not show in a gallery.

Zimmerman said she isn’t sure if shoppers always know that an original painting can be theirs.

“We want people to feel comfortable buying original art,” she said, “to realize that there’s a diversity of art available to them, and they don’t just have to go to IKEA.”

“Galleries are about teaching— teaching people to look at art and who the artists are,” said Zimmerman. “There’s this conception that [fine art] is only for certain people, and that’s not the case… We want people to come and not be intimidated.”

Friday, the fair will begin with a ticketed benefit, with half of proceeds going to the AIDS Fund. Then, it will continue on Saturday and Sunday with free admission. Food trucks and beer will be on deck.

“It’s going to be a wide range of different art and different aesthetics,” said Zimmerman. They do it purposefully that way so shoppers newer to collecting art can feel it out for themselves.

With summer wedding season underway and Father’s Day this weekend, it’s high time for gift shopping.

Artists have many different reasons for bringing their works to the fair. Many of them hail from the Philadelphia area, but some artists will be traveling from other parts of the Mid-Atlantic. Some presenters might be younger in their careers and looking to grow their customer base. Others just found themselves with a lot of pieces in stock. InLiquid encourages artists to treat the event as an opportunity to educate attendees about their work. It’s not everything you find in their studios, said Zimmerman, “it’s like a teaser.” There’s a great deal of visual art every year, but also jewelry, stationery and accessories.

“When I started this 18 years ago, a makers community was there [in town] but no one was marketing it,” she said. “We were all in our own silos. Obviously, that’s become pretty common these days.”

Zimmerman said many of the OG presenters from the early days are still around, but the changing arts scene has brought new blood.

“With the shifting demographics of Philadelphia, it’s [a chance] for people to learn who’s doing what,” she said. “I think it’s representative of a lot of the work that’s being done.”

Zimmerman is careful not to say what’ll be available down to the letter. It changes every year.

“It’s non-predictable,” she explained. “Otherwise, people wouldn’t keep coming.”

Art for the Cash Poor, Crane Arts, 1400 N. American St. Kickoff party on Friday, from 5:30-9 pm, $35. On Saturday and Sunday, the event will be open, free for the public, from noon to 6 pm.

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