Friday, March 5, 2010

NY Art Fairs '10: Scope, Red Dot, and Verge

I am always jazzed for the annual art fairs in NYC! Loads and loads of art to look at, new and old galleries, and great conversations!
This'll be short due to a camera issue and no photos! But it's been fixed and I'll have it for Fountain and Pulse.
First off I went to Scope. A solid show, nothing really "spectacular" to me, but I saw alot more interesting work here than at Red Dot and Verge. Mike Weiss Gallery had a piece by Elisa Johns who is opening in his next show. Ethereal women in washy oils, loosely based on fashion ads but set in nature and most are up-shots. Mike and director Helene exhibited the finer aspects of art fairs, that is being friendly, open and informative about their artists.
ADA Gallery from Virginia had large collage/mixed media pieces by a sort of outsider artist named Jeremiah Johnson - and it's a real family name, not after the Robert Redford flick. The backstory on this artist is a trip - his dad is a gay fruit farmer in the midwest and Jeremiah was forced to work the farm as his father moved into floral design and mom split to be a truck driver. Again, a long conversation about art and the artist with the gallery owner courtesy of the Scope Fair.
David B Smith Gallery had several interesting artists including a great portrait by Kris Lewis and wax pencil bird drawings by Christina Empedocles. The Pool NYC had paintings by Soviet Georgian artist Eteri Chkadua - biographical pieces with a hint of Frida Kahlo. Karim Hamid had Bacon influenced paintings of women with allegorical and historical references at Aureus Contemporary, a self-professed group of "art nerds" who collect art and push their favorites ala fairs and exhibits and more. Very interesting approach that comes from a love for art!
Fun comic book inspired pieces by Cara Ober at Civilian Projects (DC), Opus (England) and Gerard Ellis at Lyle Oreitzel (Miami).
Overall there was a mix of pop surrealism, a few too many images of Warhol and Marilyn Monroe, drawing and alot of (mostly representational) painting.

Even if the admission is only $10, this is NYC, and to run a show during the Art Fair and not have a credit card machine at the entrance is mind-boggling. Spread out over three floors, this very small show didnt have much to offer. There was quite a bit of secondary market prints and few originals by big names. Saw a Larry Rivers print riffing on an old Camels cigarette ad that was interesting and not often seen. Galerie Cubana had some interesting abstract pieces by a Cuban artist. The photography at other galleries was pretty weak - digital manipulation seems passé this year. As a matter of fact, so far the photography at all three shows has been mostly derivative or safe. Most of the painting at Red Dot not by blue-chippers was uninspiring loose abstraction or garishly colored realism that quite frankly looked like work you'd see in a mall.
Verge was a classic hotel room show at the Dylan in midtown. Again with the "sorry, no credit card machine"! At least Red Dot had a coat room.
Another small show with spotty work. An exception was the newbie Mighty Tanaka Gallery from Brooklyn. Its enthusiastic curator, Alex, had an eclectic mix of work from street to realism. Several galleries showed geometric abstractions and loose minimalism - paintings consisting of repeating brush strokes or dots. There were some large oil and encaustic nudes in one gallery (that I sadly can't find their card), realistic and loose with gestural patches of color here and there. Encaustic seems to be making a resurgence, as does hand-done collage.
Next post will be more positive I hope and have photos - Fountain and Pulse fairs tomorrow!