The COVID-19 pandemic has posed huge challenges—economic, medical, emotional, and professional—to working artists, in addition to galleries, museums, recent art school grads, and many art workers. A group of Boston curators and artists put their heads together to create a progressive and potentially valuable means of support and visibility for local and regional artists, especially those without gallery representation. It is the AREA CODE art fair.

An online presentation and sale of artworks, plus platforms for performance, time-based media, public art, and talks, AREA CODE runs August 1–31.

Three aspects of this experimental model stand out to me:

  1. Profit-sharing and the redistribution of wealth! Sales of artwork are distributed as follows: 50% to the artist, 35% to either their gallery/non-profit sponsor or (if unrepresented) back to the cost of administering the fair, and the remaining 15% will be redistributed equally among all section artists at the end of the fair.
  2. The collateral events! Yes, there is a fair. And there are also live-streamed performances, artwork displayed in vacant storefronts, and drive-in video art screenings.
  3. The incredible artist list, all from New England! There are too many amazing artists to list individually, but these people make strong work in every media, teach and are recent grads, curate and write, have exhibited at the ICA (and beyond), and work at area museums.

I had no part in building this event or selecting the participating artists. But over these past months, I have asked myself many times, “How do I support local artists and the Boston arts ecosystem during this time?” The AREA CODE art fair is a welcome path forward. I cannot wait to see these artists’ work virtually and dip into the many offerings throughout the month of August. See it all here

Ruth Erickson is Mannion Family Curator at the ICA. 

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