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Spring Fever: Arty Stuff Even a Cheapo Can Afford

As the weather warms and the first day of spring beckons — er, today — the 70 percent off sales of Holiday 2008 become but a dim memory. Sadly for us suckers, a new season ushers in serious retail lust: whether it’s a fresh coat of paint, cute dress, artwork, lacrosse stick, picnic basket, or paperbacks, if it’s new to us, we clearly need it. To our everlasting chagrin, we’ll never have the scoop on a sale at Lanvin, but accessible artwork and design objects are now on the rise, thanks to a growing number of independent artists and resurgence of private salons.

And why not take advantage? You may think you have the skills, but let’s be honest: the world of crafting extends a bit beyond another Popsicle-stick sculpture. You could also try your hand at recreating famous photography by the likes of Philip-Lorca DiCorcia, but that’s (a) not exactly original and (b) time-consuming, albeit entertaining. So let’s leave it to the up-and-coming creatives, shall we?

When jobs and cash flow wane, spare time and inventive ideas wax, which is one reason that in-home art salons are having such a moment. New York Magazine recently reported on Salon Adelphi, a Fort Greene salon held on the regular that gets packed to the gills, thanks to its heady combo of booze, art installation, musical performances, and hip young things who are friends of writers/founders Porter Fox and Derek Loosvelt. Farther north, the Bronx Blue Bedroom project is an artist-run collective that encourages neighborhood involvement by hosting artist dinners and community art workshops. As for its commercial side, we’re pretty sure the balloon crochet by artist Olek is wacky enough to satisfy symptoms of spring fever all the way through May.

We hit up another salon-style gathering last night at Melanie Flood Projects to report back on affordable art accoutrements. A few notables below:

Jason Polan
One of the original blogged-about affordable art makers, you may have heard of his catalog illustrating “every item” in MoMA ($20). Our personal favorite is the giraffe project: for an initial cost of $25, plus $1 for each animal drawn, the artist will make your own personal page o’ giraffes.

Wong Wong
Former Helmut Lang art director Stephen Wong’s collection of European football-inspired cashmere scarves. They are bright, bold, and irreverent — “Two Man Combo” has several connotations, you know. Scarves sold for $60 apiece.

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Abe’s Penny
A micro-magazine started by art/fashion duo Tess and Anna Knoebel (yep, they’re sisters too). Each “issue” of Abe’s Penny pairs a writer with a photographer; the four-part narrative is sent out each week on a postcard until the set is completed. March features photographs by Tod Seelie and a story by Brandon Johnson. A six-month subscription costs $48 and comes with the ultimate satisfaction of receiving mail that isn’t a bill.

Grace Kim
Kim photographs evidence of surreptitious relationships, from love hotels in Seoul to one-night stands between Korean gay men. The images are shot in stark black-and-white, but the overall effect is moody and elegant, not seedy. A set of ten miniature photos from the series “Love Hotel” sells for $40.

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Kalina Magazine
A new publication by Internet-famous photographer Noah Kalina, each issue of Kalina is based upon a single theme or concept. The first, Why Won’t You Love Me, ($17) is a series of portraits capturing one girl on film over the span of two-and-a-half years.