Saturday, March 7, 2020

A look at VOLTA and Spring Break NY Fairs 2020

(Click on any image to enlarge)

     After VOLTA's mega-disaster last year (the pier was deemed structurally unsound) it's back w new owners, director, format and location. A smallish show, plenty of hits and misses, and it broke w solo booths. I didn't take too many photos and what I did was mostly representational paintings as you can see, but abstract was in full effect as well as the Op Art comeback. Plenty of smaller scale conceptual and abstract 2D and 3D works. Jan Maarten Voskuil's pieces at NL=US (Rotterdam) had connected curving canvas pieces, and the subtle colors of the piece below was gorgeous to look at from any angle, hues and values changing w the light and the slopes of the canvas.

     A playful collection of paintings by Rinus van Hall at Kyas Art Salon (Amsterdam) were several small self-portrait oils based on those silly face altering apps. Very much a "time-capsule" series. 

     These paintings by Yigal Ozeri at Rutger Brandt's Gallery (also in Amsterdam) captured aspects of New York city life in this day and age as well as any other 20th/21st century paintings of NY (and had the first red dot I saw). They are images that we see daily here - the old women, often Asian, collecting cans and bottles to cash in. The stylish guy walking down the street with headphones in his own world, carrying shopping bags and a work bag. The portrait of the pretty young woman in the fur coat is excellently rendered, and her expression and look invite interpretation.

     On the other end stylistically were paintings by Ashley Norwood Cooper, which I just saw at the 14-C Hotel show in Jersey City a few weeks ago (see earlier blog post). Zinc Contemporary (Seattle) featured a few of these brightly colored, loosely rendered paintings looking at men, women and children through her eyes as a mom and artist. Undeniably energetic and heartfelt in a way.

 "Equestrian Portrait in Gandiul" by Los Bravu and another piece by same at Lyle O. Reitzel

Can't find notes on this one. click on it to enlarge and see details:

Another piece at the NL=US (Rotterdam) booth, by Javier Murcia.

     Time was getting sparse for The Gallery Guy but I'm so glad I hit the Spring Break show on Madison Ave! In the old Ralph Lauren offices, with every booth (office space) curated by a dealer, independent curator, by an artist or the artist. It had the feel of the studios back in art school at the end of year with seniors and grad student projects being assembled and sometimes competing for space with all the energy that's involved. Most artists made the room itself part of the exhibit, often spilling into the hall.
     I always look for themes or repetition of materials or styles at every art fair and try to tie into the mindset of the world at the time. I noticed a return to Op Art and if not the undulations and trippiness of Op, then there are several works that include many, many thin lines - tape or paint. Sometimes horizontal or vertical, sometimes starbursts, sometimes geo and non-linear. Maybe it represents digital static? or the constant sensory bombardment we live in, in particular from our little life-dominating cell phones? 

Lane Cooper at River House Arts, Toledo Ohio
Artist: Patrick Schmidt

Other "themes": thread and sewing are still in full effect (often sewing objects together), like:
Artist: Caron Tabb

Artist: Liu Kincheole

       Lots of recreating an object in another material like giant foam pancakes or these guns by 
Natalie Baxter curated by Lauren Wolchik. "Guns Guns Guns" recreates a gun show with soft sculpture guns. Their droopy barrels are an interesting comment on the Freudian phallic aspect of these weapons.

     Also presenting hard objects in soft sculpture are Faith Holland's Soft Computing:

      A large installation by Ali Shrago Spechler (who cleverly made her "card" out of cardboard scraps) was made almost entirely out of cardboard. It was a recreation of the type of house her grandparents lived in, a home in 1938 Germany before fleeing the Nazis. She found out her grandma taught at a university (I hope I'm remembering our conversation correctly) and Ms. Spechler contacted people in Germany who either knew her grandmother or were there at the same time, and thus was able to get photos etc to recreate this home.

     If you've ever had conversations with Holocaust survivors as I have (some of my father's partners were) there's always an underlying sense of impermanence, that fear that everything can be taken away from you. I thought her use of cardboard, a material that reflects transience and disposability, appropriately captures that sense of impermanence by its very essence.

      This is David Kramer's "10 Year Plan". Pretty sure I've reviewed this before, but worth re-showing!

     Again, the use of reusing materials - these pieces are made of melted crayons.

Artist: Chambliss Giobbi

Artist: Kaveri Raina
    Another large installation, kinetics, light, metal - so much going on in this piece "The Infinity Gyre" by Michael A. Robinson and Sizhu Li, curated by Tansy Xiao.

Artist: Kellessimone Waits

      One gripe about Spring Break (and a few other fairs), this to the planners: for fuck's sake, this is New York City in the winter! Set up a coat room! NY'ers and fair goers are usually out for the day and have to carry their gear let alone winter coats and hats. Nothing is worse than schlepping around a coat, my bag, a note pad, booth cards and trying to take notes and pictures while chatting. And sweltering at the same time. Find a room, make some money for coat checks, too, and make your visitors experience much happier! Rant over.

Monday, February 24, 2020

14C at the Hyatt in Jersey City

     Checked out the 14C "hotel show" at the Hyatt Regency in Jersey City NJ on Saturday 2/22. I've been to a bunch of these (artists/galleries rent a hotel room to show their wares)  in NYC but the rooms were postage stamp sized, and it was interesting to see how the display challenges were met. Much different at this show, the rooms were, well, roomy. If they didn't display work in the bathroom (like in NY) it was ok, there was still plenty of space in the hotel room. And some considered it a distraction from the work, but the views of NY, the Hudson, and the Ellis Island were spectacular.
     I only saw a few red dots, so not sure of the outcome as far as sales but foot traffic was healthy and a good vibe in the air from artists, galleries and visitors. Here are some random pics:

All done in thread!

Friday, January 31, 2020

Susan Rothenberg at Sperone Westwater

     Susan Rothenberg’s new show at Sperone Westwater is yet another solid example of why seeing artwork in person is much more powerful than onscreen. Her vigorous application of paint, sometimes thickly applied, grainy, and forceful is present in several pieces, particularly “Twisted Tree” 60x75”. It reminds me of being outside in a storm and looking at trees as the wind and rain blur your vision, and marvelling at the powerful struggle between wind and the swaying trees staying rooted. No idea as to her intention, but that’s what The Gallery Guy felt.

     Rothenberg uses her trademark palette of grays, warm and cool, with black and white and the occasional splotch of color. “Sack” had that similar feeling to “Twisted Tree’ - heavy, imbedded, w cooler grays though.

    Same w another figurative piece, “Stone Angel,” with more rendering of a face but still full of weight. Nice touch is the subtle tree branch w red blossoms.

     Another piece that has a face, “Pianist Playing Shubert,” (bottom) is the largest piece in the show at 64x91”.  It’s getting alot of attention, but IMHO, just not feeling it.

   Don’t forget to go upstairs if you get to the gallery, some nice surprises. The offbeat, well-composed  “Four Red Birds” 61x35, and “Untitled” an arm holding a cigarette with smoke swirling (31x23 on paper) left me wondering how the artist feels about smoking, pro or con? The aforementioned “Twisted Tree” is on the 2nd floor, too.

     Below are other pieces in the show which is up through Feb. 29, 2020. The statement attributes the presence of critters to Ms. Rothenberg living in New Mexico, but her work has frequently had horses and more before this. In these days of so much saturated imagery, it’s a breath of fresh air to see work with compositions that have room to breathe, that forces the viewer to take a beat and really look at what is happening on the surface of that canvas and feel the presence of the artist at work.

"Band and Hands" 58x72
"Buddha Monk"

"Pianist Playing Shubert"

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Wisdom from Anthony Bourdain

Artists and creative folks. To be a creator, you need to expand your mind, experiences, boundaries, get out of your comfort zone. I cannot emphasize enough the life-lasting power of travel, and I don't mean flying somewhere and sitting in a resort. If I could go back in time, one of the things I would tell myself would be to travel more, somehow, someway, suck it up - travel. And go live somewhere for a few months. One of my biggest regrets is not taking one of those "Teach English" gigs in Japan for 3-6 months. As always, the much-missed Anthony Bourdain sums it up wonderfully here, so please read it and think about how it applies to your artistic outlook.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019