The first two floors of the building on 125th Street and Park Avenue will be filled with art installations, sculptures, paintings and photography during the inaugural Flux Art Fair.
"I've been stopping in for site visits," said Leanne Stella, who is organizing the event. “I haven’t seen copper finishes in a building in a long time. The inside looks great. There is a lot of light and arched windows. They are nice, open floors.”
Workers should remove the scaffolding around the building in the next few weeks. The art fair, set for May 14 through the 17, will be the first major event in the Corn Exchange building, which was partially demolished for safety reasons in 2009 and has been under renovation since 2012, Stella said.
“There’s a tremendous amount of art and artists in Harlem, but a lot of it stays hidden,” Stella said. “A lot of the galleries are in brownstones and people don’t really know about them unless they are invited.”
Art Flux in Harlem has been hosting pop up galleries in the neighborhood for the last three years. This is the organization’s largest event, Stella said.
“I see it as an evolution and taking a bigger step into the artistic activity in Harlem,” she said. “My intention with Art in FLUX all along had a couple of different elements to it but first and foremost was to help artists living in Harlem.”
For local artists, the fair will also be a rare opportunity to showcase their work in their own neighborhood.
“A lot of work goes into putting yourself out there,” said Paul Deo, who painted the Harlem Planet mural on 126th Street and Lenox Avenue. “Locally, I try to put it anywhere I can go. I go to bars and restaurants, I paint murals on different buildings. You have to wear a lot of hats from salesman to artists to people person and still make money.”
Deo is taking advantage of having the space to present something different. While his mural on Lenox Avenue captures scenes of life in Harlem, his new work is more abstract, he said.
The goal of the art fair to get Harlemites to collect more art, Stella said.
While most pieces will range from $1,000 to $10,000, there will be smaller prints that cost a couple of hundred dollars, she said.
“I think it is important for us to support emerging artists in the community and that starts with purchasing their work,” Stella said.
Day passes are $20, multi-day passes are $25 and tickets to the opening reception are $75.