Original Art in NYC or toronto
February 17, 2004 7:56 AM   Subscribe

Where would I go about finding cheap original artwork for sale in New York City or Toronto? (More inside...)

My friend is a Torontonian coming to New York for a week, and he has been looking for a while for original artwork for his new apartment. He is searching for something more modern, but will give anything a chance (posters, prints, photographs, paint, or anything). However, as a student, he has a very limited budget - he is looking to spend at the very most $250 US for anything, and would prefer to spend less. Obviously, this isn't that much for a 'name piece', or any piece for that matter, but he's just looking for something nice, be it by a student or a no-name artist or anything. He knows some good general areas to look (Williamsburg-NY, Queen St W-Toronto), but is looking for specific people, stores, galleries, websites, or anywhere he could browse and find something.
posted by capndesign to Media & Arts (13 answers total)
In Toronto, Queen St. W. is, as you say, the obvious destination - not sure of specific names, but he can pack a lot of gallery-going into a couple of hours, strolling along Queen between Bathurst and Dufferin. He might also try the Ontario College of Art and Design (OCAD), beside the Art Gallery of Ontario. Another possibility is to explore cafes and restaurants that display works by would-be artsies. A few spring to mind, but whether what they're currently showing is modern... not sure. "River" and "Alternative Grounds" are on Roncesvalles. Insomnia Cafe (Bloor near Bathurst) sometimes has shows. "R Gal Re" is a tiny new gallery on Broadview, just south of Danforth. My partner works at OCAD, so I'll ask him if anything specific springs to mind.
posted by stonerose at 8:19 AM on February 17, 2004

go to one of the local art schools, chat up a student, ask to see the studios, make offers. at under $250, he should expect something unframed (or stuck into a plexiglass bed, bath & beyond frame). framing is quite expensive (with glass, a mat and an inexpensive frame, artwork that's about under 3 feet long on one side will start at $75.00).

i get all my original artwork from friends and relatives.
posted by crush-onastick at 8:24 AM on February 17, 2004

Look for sidewalk artists. Last time I was in NYC, they were at the N Y Public Library, or the Met Museum of Art sidewalks. Surprisingly good and cheap art amongst the schlock.
posted by theora55 at 8:25 AM on February 17, 2004

Two Torontonian friends of mine do beautiful work - paintings and prints, as well as cheaper things like tiles: The Citrus Art Collective.
posted by Marquis at 8:26 AM on February 17, 2004

oh, and they're recent grads, so the prices should be affordable.
posted by Marquis at 8:27 AM on February 17, 2004

How about in the DC area, anyone?
posted by callmejay at 8:35 AM on February 17, 2004

not sure this helps, but: it's surprising what you can do yourself (and fun); paintings hanging in cafes are often for sale even though it doesn't say so (maybe that's less true in the usa); making your own frames is not that hard; companies may give advertising away for free (i've mounted a poster - 4'x8', the company logo painted on a wet wooden fence with no text - from this company on a hardboard frame and it'll take up most of an otherwise gloomy kitchen wall. we got it for the price of a nice box of chocolates); you can have photos printed to large sizes and mount them too (glue onto hardboard, add a frame to the back to give depth); end-of-year shows at universities/colleges/art-schools are good places to look for stuff, as are local art galleries (again, don't know about the usa, but in the uk most places have a small local-govt funded art gallery showing local work),
posted by andrew cooke at 9:21 AM on February 17, 2004

I don't have a solution for the "now" but there are two events in Toronto that your friend could keep his ears out for, both in the fall, I believe. One is the Outdoor Art Exhibit and the other is OCAD's mystery art show, which is called Whodunit--here's a newslink about last years.

Your friend could also sign up for the Akimbo mailings, which announce Toronto art shows and whatnot.

If your friend has any useful skills, he could always offer to barter work for art. I've done so successfully in the past. I designed, maintain, and host a web site for a local artist in exchange for two paintings.

Also, something I've done in the past which your friend may find useful is to talk to the artist (get his or her phone number) after a gallery showing. Galleries generally take 50% of the ticket price on a piece so many artists would be open to selling to you for 60-70% of ticket price if the piece doesn't sell at a show. Though of course they risk their relationship with the gallery if they do this. Whatever you do though, don't let the gallery owner know you're making such an offer.

/ducks as any mefi gallery owners reps stone me.
posted by dobbs at 9:46 AM on February 17, 2004


check out ev @ vampirebat.com . i have two or three of his things framed in my house. (caveat--i've also modeled for him). don't know what he has available right now. just email him and tell him crush recommended him.
posted by crush-onastick at 9:49 AM on February 17, 2004

Student art is what you want, and you will be doing something of great service to the community, not to mention making somebody less poor.

If you buy paintings on canvas that have been mounted on stretcher bars, frames are superfluous. The general consensus is to display stretched canvas unframed, unless the artist suggests otherwise.
posted by PrinceValium at 9:54 AM on February 17, 2004

The Armory show

if you will be in new york around this time you can't do much better than the armory show. and alot of artist areas and neighborhoods will also being doing open studios around the same time to pick up on the wild art buying frenzy. Get a gallery guide and different local things to do papers, they will list open studios.
posted by darkpony at 10:03 AM on February 17, 2004

steve keene is a nyc fixture - he's been selling his original paintings on the streets and in bars and such for years and years. his prices can't be beat - $8 for a small painting, $12 for a large one - and the work is fantastic. you can order from his site to take your chances on subject matter from recent series, or find his work on ebay to preview it first. i have five or six of his pieces and just adore them.
posted by judith at 10:17 AM on February 17, 2004

I second the street-art move. On any given weekend you can look for Ivan Jensen along Union Square in Manhattan; he sells great-looking modern-abstract paintings in the $200 range, original and hand-signed. I see him all the time, and a friend who has one of his paintings gets complimented on it all the time.
posted by werty at 12:26 PM on February 17, 2004

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