by Mable Yiu
Founder of the Accessible Art Fair, Stephanie Manasseh dreamt of creating a new public art space without boundaries between artists and audiences. The art fair will be coming to New York for the first time in November 2016.
What led you to start the Accessible Art Fair?
I left Canada in 1997 to move to Europe. Since my youth I have had a keen interest in art as my mother is an artist. I always knew that she struggled to find a gallery to represent her and when I moved to Brussels 10 years ago, I decided to start the Accessible Art Fair as I realized that there were so many great artists out there without gallery representation. I did my research and came to the conclusion that these artists are in need of exposure. I then decided to run a high level, qualitative art fair for artists only.
Eight years on, I am very proud of the evolution of the fair and what it has become. We are a relatively small boutique fair, working with around 65 artists at a time, showcasing a hand picked selection of artists, chosen by our panel of judges all working in the arts (gallerists, art journalists, fine art specialists, etc). I made the decision that I would rather run the fair in a beautiful and special location in the high end area in Brussels, rather than have a huge event in an exhibition hall. People seem to appreciate the cozy atmosphere where they get to meet the artists behind the work. I think there is a lot to be said about gaining insight on a work of art directly from its creator.
Please describe your work with luxury brands, such as BMW, and how it ties in with the Accessible Art Fair.
I am very proud to be working with luxury brands such as Montblanc (on the Montblanc Likes Art Award, launched at the Accessible Art Fair in 2012) and BMW Belgium. By aligning themselves with the Accessible Art Fair, these very strong brands are showing their support to young, emerging talent and are showing their ongoing support to the arts.
Since November 2015 I have been working with BMW in Brussels as curator for their Art and Design Sessions. These sessions were launched to give a platform to artists and designers of various disciplines. We showcase some young talent as well as some big names such as Marc Lagrange, Xavier Lust and the legendary Terry O'Neill.
I am very excited to announce that we just got confirmation that Jeff Koons will join our session in July. We are bringing over his Art Car and the man himself will be present for one night to talk to our guests about this amazing creation.
That is so exciting that you will be launching the art fair in New York next November. Why New York specifically?
I am really excited about launching the fair in New York City in November 2016. We have found the perfect location which fits exactly the boutique style fair that we are. It just seems a natural evolution to run it in NY. There are so many artists in NY who just need the opportunity to get their work out there and we are here to give them this opportunity! I also love NY and all the possibilities it offers. We have already started working on this edition and I can't wait for its launch next year!