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Basketball City sounds like it belongs in a mall or inside Madison Square Garden, but names can be deceiving, just like NADA, which isn’t a Spanish misnomer. Instead, it is the New Art Dealers Alliance, and today marks the opening of its second installment of NADA New York in the sports-titled space, located at Pier 36 at Basketball City (299 South Street) on the East River through May 13.
For the next few days, Basketball city moonlights as an art fair space, but it is actually a large high school gym on the Lower East Side, the neighborhood of which the decade old organization has long inhabited and where many of the participating galleries are located. “It’s keeping it in our neighborhood and we haven’t had anything on the Lower East Side like this yet,” explained NADA board member, Nicelle Beauchene, nodding to her gallery of the same name and its neighbors like Lisa Cooley, Joe Sheftel, and Eleven Rivington.
The inaugural fair was held at the old DIA space in Chelsea, the venue was a big snug; and while the non-profit organization hasn’t expanded the number of galleries represented, “We wanted to have a space where we could do things for the next few years and to grow, slowly get bigger.” noted Beauchene.
Integrity still grounds the fair and “we wanted to keep quality the same, making sure we didn’t just suddenly expand,” added Beauchene. The new venue, designed by NADA’s board, “allows people to get more ambitious because they can do bigger presentations.” The central aisle, for example, is double the size of Frieze New York, which is the “main fair” happening concurrently on Randall’s Island this weekend. And it’s not only in size that NADA is growing — the international presence, augmented by NADA’s fair in Cologne, now touts 70 galleries from 13 countries, from the UK, Germany, France, and even Estonia. Beauchene is quick to highlight that “it’s a better representation of the art market to have as diverse of a fair as possible.”
Because the organization is known for pushing boundaries, NADA continues to do something that most other fairs don’t: free admission. “The quality is really high and that’s something we would never want to sacrifice.”
Sometimes the best things in life really are free.