The inaugural Art Expo Nelson opens at the Trafalgar Centre next Friday, with dealers flying in from around New Zealand to check out what the region's artists have to offer.
Art dealers from a dozen galleries and the public are invited to see about 500 artworks by 100 artists under one roof.
The artists were selected from a pool of more than 150 applicants, with 80 per cent from the Nelson region and the rest from around the South Island.
The Regional Art Development Initiative (RADi) is behind the expo, which is the same group that produced the Nelson Arts Guide.
RADi is flying the dealers to Nelson, with an aim of encouraging professional relationships and transactions in galleries nationwide.
The founder of Auckland's Parnell Gallery, Sally Souness, said the expo was a "fabulous" idea and she was open to finding new artists whose work was suitable for her to sell in her gallery.
Stewart Schwartz, of Taylor-Jensen Fine Arts in Palmerston North, said it was a good initiative because it introduced artists to the gallery scene.
"It's a difficult time for dealers and artists. We're fully supportive of anything that encourages the sale of art," he said.
Dunedin painter Ewan McDougall, who is among those with works in the expo, said he was looking forward to it.
"I think that it will be very good exposure for a large number of South Island artists and it should be an exciting mix of different forms of creativity. I hope people come out in huge numbers to the event. Anything which brings the arts more into people's lives is a positive thing. After all, we get a surfeit of sport and politics - let's have more painting," he said.
Art Expo Nelson project manager Nic Foster said it would be a "many-layered event", with a mixture of established and emerging artists and works ranging from $300 to up to $20,000.
"Wouldn't it be great if we sold everything? I don't think there would be a better opportunity to see so much art in one place. People could actually snap up a really valuable piece of work."
Mr Foster said RADi would like to organise another expo next year, "but it's really based on the success of this one".
"We always dine out on the fact that we're an art region and now we're actually presenting the face of it," he said.
Art Expo Nelson, Trafalgar Centre, July 28 and 29.
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