“You don’t walk into a store and pick up something you like and go, ‘How about I give you $20 for this?'” says Alex Mitow. “But that’s so commonplace in the art world, and everybody just kind of accepts it.”
Everybody, that is, except Mitow and his partner James Miille. The couple has cultivated a devoted following since starting the first Superfine! art fair in Miami in 2015. Its inaugural D.C. edition is now running at Union Market with 2,000 works of art for sale, price tag included.
“We mandate that the prices be shown on every work of art so there’s never that ambiguous space where you don’t know how much something costs and you have to enter one of those weird negotiations,” Mitow says. The policy is key to making the fair “a more fun, more approachable, more accessible space to interact with and hopefully collect art in.”
Affordability also aids the cause. “We have a very strict price cap of $15,000,” says Mitow. “Seventy-five percent of the work in the fair is under $5,000. And every exhibitor is featuring works in the $50 to $1,000 range. But we’re not just throwing a big party with some art on the walls. I feel like that happens everywhere in every city right now. That’s really not at all what Superfine! is about.” Mitow calls it “highly curated,” thanks to a dedicated 10-person team “fine-tuning everything.”
Lauren Fairbanks, a member of the New York-based team, adds that diversity is “baked into the core and DNA of what Superfine! is,” resulting in “a far larger representation of female artists, of artists of color, of LGBTQ artists” than at other established art shows.
This weekend’s D.C. show also offers an impressive 50/50 geographic mix, with roughly half of the artists and galleries originating locally.
It’s also far from the typical “stuffy” environment. “You’re not just going to come to Superfine!…to walk around and look at art,” Fairbanks says.
For example, there’s an Ice Cream Social on Friday, an “LGBT Arts Shorts” hour-long film screening and an “Unsettled” performance arts series presented by Transformeron Saturday, plus panel discussions and music and DJ performances throughout.
“There are all these additional components that we tie into Superfine!,” says Fairbanks, “because art comes in many different forms.”
Superfine! runs Thursday, Nov. 1, through Saturday, Nov. 3, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, Nov. 4, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., at Union Market’s Dock 5, 1309 5th St. NE. Tickets are $12 to $15 per day. Call 800-680-9095 or visit superfine.world.