Art off the Main: Contemporary African, Caribbean, Latin American art

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Off the Main: The Show of Contemporary Latin American and Caribbean Art will showcase works of art created in Africa, the Caribbean, and South and Central America, as well as works by artists of such ancestry who live and work elsewhere. Debuting at New York City’s landmark Puck Building from October 7 through 10, Off the Main is being staged during Hispanic Heritage Month and comes at a time of growing interest in, and demand for, art from these regions. Loris Crawford, the show’s founder and executive producer, says the more than 40 exhibitors expected to participate will provide collectors, curators and critics the opportunity to see some of the most exciting and innovative work and to be part of a new global awakening in the arts.

“The successes at auctions, the large audiences attracted to recent exhibitions of art from these regions and the increasing number of museums adding such art to their collections are indicators of the growing desire to see a wider body of work. Off the Main seeks to fill this void,” says Crawford, who also is director of Savacou Gallery, a leading force in New York City in the movement to popularize the work of Black artists.

Crawford argues that while for more than a century artists, scholars and collectors have   been moved by, and have studied in great detail, the traditional art of Africa, this very attention has served to hide Africa’s contemporary art. “Off the Main takes this art from behind the mask,” she says. “While a number of artists from Latin America and the Caribbean have gained international acclaim, an immense wellspring of creative talent from the region remains relatively unknown to the American audience. With the shift in demographics of the U.S. population and a new cultural awakening, Off the Main is fitting and timely.”

Crawford was responsible for the concept of an African-American pavilion at the annual New York ArtExpo and was largely responsible for organizing and promoting the first such pavilion in 1991. Her Savacou Gallery also spearheaded one of the earliest attempts to set standards for Black art galleries through the organization of the Association of Black Owned Galleries in 1991.

Unlike other art fairs, Off the Main includes a juried art competition. Crawford says the competition provides an international showcase for works of art that are innovative, on the cutting edge and of museum caliber. Finalists will be presented at the fair. Another exciting element of the show is a lecture series featuring art scholars and curators that is designed to increase public knowledge and appreciation of contemporary art from the featured regions.