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Visit the Print Fair Like a Pro with These Six Tips

The Portland Art Museum’s Curator of Prints and Drawings shares her Portland Fine Print Fair highlights so that you can start your collection.

Presented by Portland Art Museum December 26, 2019

The Portland Fine Print Fair (PFPF) returns to the Fields Ballroom at the Portland Art Museum January 24–26. Now in its seventh year, this showcase for original prints is full of museum-quality original prints for collectors of all budgets. It is also a perfect place to browse and learn about the fascinating world of the graphic arts. We asked Mary Weaver Chapin, Ph.D. Curator of Prints and Drawings at the Museum, for her top highlights of the Print Fair weekend:

  1. Prints! The art, of course, is my favorite part of Print Fair. Thousands of prints can be found at the Fair, dating from the 1490s to today. Stunning Old Master European prints mingle with stark American modernists, dreamy Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, modern-day Native American prints, sophisticated Northwest art, and cutting-edge contemporary work. Lithographs, screenprints, etchings, engravings, and woodcuts can all be found in a variety of price levels starting at $100. Share your favorites with #PortlandFinePrint Fair
  1. Dealers. PFPF prides itself on selecting dealers who have top quality prints as well as superior customer service and knowledge. These 18 knowledgeable and friendly dealers are happy to tell you about the work on display, answer your questions, and suggest ways to keep learning. They also have great stories to share, so be sure to ask them about their adventures in collecting, or tell them one of your own! You can always start a conversation with, “what can you tell me about this print?” Find a full list of dealers and links to their websites here.
  1. Jeannie Kenmotsu, Ph.D., Curator of Japanese Art, and I will each lead free guided tours through the Fair, introducing you to the dealers, highlighting special work on display, and sharing our stories and insight into the print world. Dr. Kenmotsu will lead the tour of Asian Art on Saturday at 10:30, and I’ll lead tours on both Saturday and Sunday at 1:30 pm. 
  1. We kick off the weekend with a Benefit Preview on Friday, January 24 from 6 to 9 p.m. This special party is a sneak-peak to the Print Fair to buy and browse before it opens to the public. The benefit preview is a fundraiser for the Department of Prints and Drawings. Get your tickets here
  1. Curator’s Choice. Every year, Portland Art Museum curators examine prints from each dealer and select a few as a “Curator’s Choice,” which are denoted with an orange triangular sign. These are prints that they deem especially interesting for their quality, composition, or price. Come see if you agree with the curators, or find your own masterpiece!
  1. Our visitors really make the Fair come alive. I love seeing new visitors side-by-side with students, curators, and longtime collectors browsing through the bins. It is a great place to learn and a great place to meet people interested in the graphic arts! If you are inspired, join the Graphic Arts Council, a group of museum members who support the activities of the Prints and Drawings department, and gather for tours, talks, and more!
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