Whitehot Magazine

June 2010, The Cheaper Show

The Cheaper Show No. 9: 200 Artists | 400 Pieces of Art | $200 Each

When's the last time you went to an opening that had people lining up at 6 am? And they're not just lining up to view, they're lining up to buy. Run by a young crew of artists who employ cheeky slogans like "Buy art not cocaine" and "Cross my art and hope to buy," Vancouver's home-grown version of a (very) Affordable Art Fair has, in its 9th year, seriously engaged the city at large with the arts community. The energy and vitality of emerging art mixed with the acknowledged status of established work, and it was all presented in a highly professional and widely accessible venue. Working with a number of sponsors, the possibility for stronger, and better, interactions between the art and business communities was also brought to the forefront. Selling pieces at what may well be a very undervalued price may not seem an ideal scenario for artists, but exciting a huge audience and forging community and new connections has long-term benefits. Whitehot attended the preview (at which we were, sadly, not allowed to buy) and spoke briefly with Founder and Creative Director Graeme Berglund, Executive Director Steve Rio and Lead Curator Lisa Giroday about their perspective on making art, at least for one night, cheaper.

Graeme Berglund: This show has been one of the biggest passions in my life. Over the years, beyond creating new economies and offering a really accessible platform for artists, the biggest instigator for me has always been the people that it's brought into my life. I get to work with my best friends every day, I'm in a position to meet incredible talent all the time, and now at this point, almost a decade later, it gives us the ability to reach out to so many people. The show has become very functional, it properly put artists in contact with galleries and collectors, and I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of it.

Steve Rio: In this day and age, the government is not responding. Even after hiring their own independent analysts who are coming back and saying arts help the economy - they've found every dollar you spend on arts comes back at $1.30 - the government's still not responding. But I think that the business community is really interested in engaging with the arts community. These are street-level artists, these are not corporate artists, but a lot of our money has come from corporations this year. Corporations, organisations and businesses are really starting to understand that support doesn't mean big logos and being branded. There aren't Heineken logos everywhere [Heineken is 2010 sponsor], this is a very classy event. I think that the time of marketing to people is over, and the way that marketing will happen in future is through properly engaging. Supporting a show like this is properly engaging with your community. You're not putting billboards up, you're providing the means for a show to maintain itself.

Lisa Giroday: This is my first year doing the Cheaper Show. I was asked to participate because of my curatorial experience - I own Les Gallery in East Vancouver - and I decided to do the show because I feel what it brings to the city is totally unique in its accessibility in terms of price, and its accessibility with regards to the artists who are able to participate. There's a huge void in Vancouver between the high-end commercial market and emerging artists. The Cheaper Show this year has really provided a service to the community in connecting the artists involved with people who can make an impact in their lives, and that for me is probably the most important aspect of the show. At the $200 mark the artists have acknowledged that they're not giving their work away, but they're exciting people into acquiring their work. And more than that, they're creating collectors and establishing relationships with future patrons.

A few photos from the preview follow; participating artists can be reviewed here.

Photographer Greg Swales and Ashley Gesnend

Graeme Berglund and Lisa Giroday 

Steve Rio

Lindsay Elliot, Cheaper Show Social Media Manager and Zoe Peled, Cheaper Show Associate Producer

Left: Greg Swales and Ashley Gesne; Right: Zoe Pawlak, Cheaper Show Community Relations and Christopher Fadden, artist and curator

Painter and photographer Colleen Heslin, artist Les Ramsay and photographer Chris Taylor

Left: Artist Jeffro Halliday; Right Lindsay Elliot

Left: Graeme Berlund; Right
Christopher Fadden and Malcolm Levy, artist, curator and director