Visiting four art fairs in a matter of two days may be overwhelming for the unseasoned art enthusiast but for every thirsty fiend in the commercial art world, including tangential unpaid bloggers like me looking to hike up readership through up-to-the-minute coverage, four ain’t nothin’ but a pitiful underachievement. I’ll be running a marathon today covering the labyrinth that is Armory (dreading) as well as a handful of barely old and new satellite fairs like Independent, Fountain, Moving Image, Dependent, and Site Fest in hopes of staying truly relevant in the art world. And of course add on the bit about being an art lover and getting high off the overwhelming energy of being inundated by mediocre art four days in a row.
Of the four fairs Volta was hands down the most accessible and art-viewing-friendly fair perused. It helps that each gallery booth represented works of a single artists, some of whom took advantage of utilizing the space as an installation, making for an easy-to-consume experience. Also, I was duly impressed the fair provided information handouts per booth, going beyond the wall label and awkward conversations with dealers to provide a wholesome art viewing experience.
American flags and international politics seemed to be a popular topic as were man vs. nature scenarios. I also pointed out a handful that referenced the home (will feature on separate post), but that might have been me subconsciously seeking in the midst of marriage and co-habitation. Most of the works shown were meaningful on their own and were installed with thoughtful curating efforts. Paintings and drawings naturally reveal themselves more in fairs and most were colorful, eye-catchingly patterned, and almost crafty. Unfortunately there was nothing that caught me off guard or knocked me off my feet, but that’s OK, I expected it.
Here are my highlights:
Portraits abound throughout the fair, most notable of which are Trine Sondergaard’s images of women garbed in traditional Danish head covering. The subdued colors and melancholic poses created a dramatic but silent atmosphere. At Martin Asbaek Gallery
Thin empty plastic bags with hand-drawn images of consumerist quotes and shopping bag ephemera make up Katrin Strobel’s installation. Engraving worth and unique mark making into disposable tools for consumption makes for an obvious but gratifying juxtaposition. At Galerie Heike Strelow
If George Condo and the Joker had a baby this is what it would look like. Moody, hypnotizing, and nightmarish, these series of paintings by Martin Galle were gridded alongside a near life size painting of a creepy man in the forest wearing a similarly threatening mask, like a serial killer or an anonymous graffiti artist (Galle dabbles in graffiti). At ASPN
These sculptured and hand painted replicas of classical literature books by Jennie Ottinger, its innards carved out with bare skeletal covers remaining, is a warning of what’s to come. In my opinion that means the loss of proper language use (twitter and blogging butchers language as we knew it) and the predicted extermination of books. People have forgotten how to pay attention long enough to read a chapter of a book. I certainly have.That amount of data we consume is alarming, disproportionate to information gained/learned/realized. The info handout was a clear reminder of this: “Trying to keep up with all the books, music, movies, etc that interest us can incite mild panic. it can bring up issues of mortality by reminding us that there is a finite amount of time in which to digest all of the cultural treasures available. It also addresses expectation we have of ourselves and that others have of us and the disappointment and fear of falling short.” ding ding ding. At Johansson Projects
A playful series of lush dreamy over-saturated landscapes interrupted by New York City architecture by Natasha Kissell. Above is New Museum, and a spaceship. The artist hasn’t left out Frank Gehry staples, Lincoln Center, and other hallmark skyline backdrops. At Eleven
Richard Colman’s paintings depicts scenes of juvenile perversity and otherworldly cultish ceremonial practices. I didn’t care much for it, distracted by a screaming color palette and rigid patterning. At V1 Gallery
The most entertaining booth award goes to Parisian Laundry where the trio artist collective BGL have installed an upturned sand motorcycle with a long tree branch stabbing up, supporting a gigantic faux leafy tree laying and rotating on its side. It was hysterical to see people stand near, not paying attention and getting their faces whacked by the tree. How awkward! Across the booth was a dinked up painting that upon the ring of a bell (rang by a man sitting at the gallery’s table) would fall with a most disturbing clank, instigating horrid gasps from the audience. It’s quickly learned that on the other side of a wall is an aimless sea captain dropping and reeling in the painting. Charming.
We were soon accosted by a gallerist asking if we’d like to enter the cash cube for a chance to win a butterfly sculpture by artist Erika Harrsch. I didn’t dare victimize myself to such attention but Angel caved in. International currency cut into butterflies flew about in fervor and Angel’s goal was to find one with a gallery label on it. It was entertaining to watch but I wasn’t convinced this game meaningfully reflected our addiction to money and gambling. It was a bit too deadpan and desperate. At Ge Galeria
We passed by Dodge Gallery and we were startled and flattered to be remembered by the owner Kristen Dodge. She undoubtedly receives friendliest and most accessible gallerist of the year award. She remembered our peculiar looks (between Angel’s full head of curly locks and my stick straight ass length hair we’re not hard to forget) when we walked in a few months back for the inaugural show and we had a welcoming conversation then as well. We’ll be certain to attend the gallery’s next opening April 2nd and smooch along like renowned art stars.
The booth presented sculptures by Darren Foote, whose interests in the tension between man and nature is most prevalent, if not obvious, in the piece above. Arms reach from opposite ends and fingers are nibbed off, so sadly, so quietly as if castrated by the corrupt throngs of industrialism and technology. Their equal length and equal struggle is void of blame, both victim and forever without reach. The viewing circle centers to the right of the supporting panel centers on this interaction, making for a crisply clear message. Just writing this makes my heart churn a little. At Dodge Gallery
Jeremy Mora’s sloppily layered miniature worlds are culled from overuse of the glue gun and unsuccessfully clashing materials. The most convincing are the dainty mini objects, roaming around a demented man-made, artist-made, universe. At Wolfe Contemporary
Most representative of Brooklyn, Portland, or general hipsterdom award goes to Jim Houser. This doesn’t underestimate the appetizing color palette, bearing feathery lightness to what seems to be sad and nostalgic narratives. The patterning and gridding systems within the installation veers toward graphic design and illustration and I would love nothing more than for the artist to come to my house and help me choose wall colors and design all the logos and posters I need made for projects. I also couldn’t help think about the “Put on a bird on it” skit in Portlandia. These paintings could easily be featured at Renegade Craft Fair and receive equal credit. At Jonathan Levine
Lastly, Jorge Perianes’ installation tells the story of a world without humans, taken over by mother nature, uncontrollably deconstructing everything we’ve ever created. Nothing new, but witty nonetheless. At Ad Hoc Galeria