Monday, December 31, 2012

10 Cliff paintings in honor of the Fiscal Cliff

Art silliness w/ Kevin Bacon (or "6 Slices of Separation")

OK, this is just plain silly - a portrait of actor Kevin Bacon made of bacon. All from the mind and hands of Jason Mecier.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Miami Art Fairs: NADA

     Last but not least, my final report about the Miami Art Fairs is NADA, which was held at the Deauville Beach Resort. Not in guest rooms like many other hotel art fairs, NADA was in a large room geared for events like this. A smallish show with open flowing booths, some only about 6-8' wide x appr. 3' deep.

     NADA was dominated by abstract work and pieces focused on mark making, for example a swash of purple paint over a large piece of burlap.
     There were two finely rendered drawings at Feature Gallery (NY) by Kinke Kooi, 22x30 acrylic paint and graphite on paper. The artist, a Dutch woman in her 50s, draws organic, sexual objects over the ground. At first glance, some of the objects look like deflated, bedazzled donuts, sexual imagery, or amoeba-like shapes. Far from that kitschy sounding description, her subtle and deft linework create a composition that invites inspection. "She sees each line as a meditation," I was told, and though comments like that tend to sound artspeak-ish, it's quite accurate in Kooi's case.

    Leslie Fritz Gallery from NY had cut-out photos on board of painted derrieres cropped as torsos that from a distance looked like scuplture or painted mannequins. I'm not one to hate on a nubile naked lass being painted live, but it has become trite at this point. These pieces by Keith Farquhar take that concept a step further by photographing them, then another step by mounting the photos, and placing the cropped cut-out versions on pedestals with a brick wall background.

     Corbett vs Dempsey Gallery from Chicago (the most original name for a gallery I've heard in ages, referencing boxers Jack Dempsey vs Gentleman James Corbett) had a fun morphed animal sculpture by Thomas Grünfeld called "Misfit (swan/nutria/donkey), 39x23x11".

     They also showed "Map to the Morning Dance 3" by Robert Lostutter, 66x43.5" from 1973. Illustration style, yet the embroidered looking, snake-like, intestinal imagery on the suspended figure was intriguing.

     Again, NADA was a small show with a wide array of work and quality. This was the last show I saw before departing, and I was surprised that I didn't have "art fatigue" from seeing so much work within a few days. Quite the contrary. For one thing, as an artist I felt exhilarated and empowered. A common artist's reaction is the feeling of, "Omigod, they're showing THAT?! My work is just as good if not better, etc etc" - in other words, the green of human envy sometimes enters our thought palette. I felt none of that in Miami. There was such a variety of work, so many galleries and so many people at these fairs, that a struggling artist can only walk away feeling that out there are galleries and collectors for EVERY type of work. You just need to get the right eyeballs on your work, and to hustle. I really think it's that simple.
     We all have our preferences of work that we like/dislike on a gut level. There is work that we learn to appreciate using knowledge and experience, along with an open heart and mind. Personally, there was artwork here that I'd usually dismiss or not think about, however, I found myself not only pausing but thinking, discussing and sometimes appreciating those types of work. Maybe I got caught up in the excitement. Yes, that and the complete immersion for four days into art gave me new insights, ideas, and enthusiasm. Maybe that immersion created some new neural pathways in my brain! Out with the old, in with the new! Lastly, being away from one's daily routine and surroundings allows time to ponder, digest, and focus.
     I hope you've enjoyed these posts about the Miami Art Fairs as much as I enjoyed the trip and bringing some thoughts and photos to you. Please spread the word about The Gallery Guy blog and have a happy and healthy new year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Miami Art Fairs - Fountain and Scope

     Having written about FOUNTAIN for years here, I've been able to watch its growth from a small show to the tugboat to the Armory, and finally its Miami incarnation. The location here fits the DIY/indie feel of Fountain, starting with the large outdoor, murals, some finished and some in progress. There were many familiar vendors as well as a large contingent of Japanese galleries inside.  

McCaig Welles Gallery was back with the Morning Breath guys and their oft-amusing mix of text and line art. Some might be inclined to dismiss these works (24x24") as one-trick ponies, but that would be a disservice. The faces, though cartoony and retro, show character and expression. In a bizarre way, they remind me of DaVinci's sketches of odd looking citizens that are caricatures yet unique and reflect something of the individual.

     Another quirky little face by Ann Okudaira (right)
at Gallery Den from Germany.

     Gallery 4 from Pittsburgh had paintings by Ryan Case MacKeen which stood out due to their unique take on city images. They capture that effect bright daylight has on photographs and our own eyes, blurring the edges in an over-exposed, posterized way. At first glance they appear to be huge enlargements of photos, but they're paintings. And like almost every artist at Fountain, he has a street/graf background.

     One of my favorite new discoveries on this Miami trip was the work of Michael Sanzone, displaying wood constructions at Kathryn Miriam Contemporary Gallery. This box piece is full of individual wood panels that spin around and are adorned with drawings, sketches, collage and text. Sanzone's father was a carpenter and he learned the craft from him. This beautiful box is made of Spanish mahogany. Well crafted,  thought provoking, and attention grabbing.


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     One thing about the Miami fairs as compared to NYC is the distance between some of the exhibits. On this day I went to Pulse in the a.m., then Fountain and I really needed a break, but to go back to the hotel and back to Scope would've been $50-60 in cab rides. So I sucked it up, and by time I got here I had a bit of art overload, however, there was some exciting work and despite my lack of photos it was another great show.
     The lobby had some large scale installations including this construction, about 15+ feet of bowls and dishes on a glass table. I like how it forced engagement, you couldnt help but feel antsy walking near it, or walking past and expecting to hear a loud crash.

     941 Geary Gallery/Shooting Gallery (San Fran) had large works by Herakut, a German street art based couple. Their work is based on contrasts such as street/fine art, east/west, masculine/feminine, etc.

     My compadres from Asbury Park, Parlor Gallery, had their first Miami booth at Scope and a featured piece was this painted swordfish sculpture by Porkchop. (Below)

     Spoke Art,  from San Francisco, had a colorful booth with these assemblage sculptures by Scott Hove. A take-off of hunter's mounted head trophies, and morphing them with decorative cakes. He cleverly applies the faux frosting with baker's decorative tools. A really fun display with great craftsmanship.

    Yet another SanFran gallery, Corey Helford, had works by Chloe Early from London. Her paintings have that 70s movie poster/TV Guide cover collaging of elements mixed with action, painterly brushstrokes and drips, with a modern/street touch. Very engaging works with something for everyone, she just had a near sell-out show last month at the gallery.

     Thinkspace Gallery had works by Brian Viveros that sold out at Scope. His illustrative paintings are on maple board, with bold color, fashion model types, tats, etc. The best thing about my stop here was a conversation I had with proprietor, Leonard Croskey aka LC, who discussed his pricing philosophy. Most of Viveros' pieces were in the 6500 range. He feels its important to bring an artist along slowly, and gradually raise their prices. He said that some of their artists get offers to show at another gallery at double their sale price, but he believes it hurts the artist in the long run by cutting the legs out from current collectors of their works and people that are on the fence, as well as all the possible collectors in that middle range between current and double. When you jump prices that much, you effectively slam the door in the aforementioned's faces and fall off their radars as far as buying more of that artist's work, or buying for the first time. Better to sell all the work and develop several new collectors, then increase pricing on the next round of works, than to sell a few at a high price. This is a very sound philosophy, one that more galleries and artists should use.

Coming: the final installment (whew!) of the Miami Art Fair posts: NADA
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Miami Art Fairs: PULSE, AQUA and SELECT

     Started the morning at PULSE which had an excellent outdoor brunch preview event on a beautiful day - cheers, Pulse folks! Well fed, we entered the venue and the first work that caught my eye were these graffiti pieces by Laura Ortiz Vega at La Estacion Arte Contemporaneo from Mexico. At first glance they appear to be typical paint/spray paint graffiti, but interesting in that they're actually thread and bees wax on board. Yet another entry into the cool work being done with embroidery.

     David B. Smith Gallery from Denver, CO presented a few large pieces by Laura Ball. Below are one of her water media on paper works, a surreal elephantine creature in a jungle surrounded by animals. Is this an attack on a non-conformist being, or a joyous celebration of nature's life cycle and co-dependence?

     Casey Neistat had a playful booth of his videos set up like someone's parents' basement with couches, a make-shift bar, hanging plants, etc. His statement and text on the fridge reflect the offbeat silliness of this booth.
Click on photos to enlarge so you can read the text.

     LeBasse Projects from Culver City, CA had new paintings by Seanna Hong. This animator/fine artist gained notoriety for her earlier pieces with small children, bears and forests and last year began adding text to them. She felt energized by this new addition to her visuals and ran with it. Left are four of these new pieces with text, 8x8", and the words are from personal relationships, often between the artist and her daughter.

     Pavel Zoubok Gallery (NY) had this small mixed media construction (8x5x3") by Mac Premo titled "Superior Hate."

     PULSE felt a lot less self-conscious than Art Basel. The abstract work had a tangible energy and vitality here. There was (as in most of the other fairs) quite a bit of "assembled" work, art that was about process using repetition and/or small, delicate materials like pins, and weaving using fabrics, papers or plastics.

 * * *
     A few notes about AQUA at the Aqua Hotel. Very difficult to get shots of the art due to the large crowds at the preview. In the courtyard was a live jam band, drinks were flowing, and lots of schmoozing and networking throughout. I suggest going to the AQUA site for images. There was variety galore here in terms of media, style, and well, quality, but enthusiasm was definitely not lacking. There was installation, illustration, pop, assemblage, photography, all the earmarks of every show in Miami and this one seemed to have a youthful (and in many cases, still developing) vibe about it.

* * *

     That morning in South Beach I noticed a woman wrapping a street sign in yarn and had to inquire. Melissa Maddonni Haims, a Philadelphia based fiber artist was constructing one of her "yarn bombs." She was also exhibiting at the SELECT fair at the Catalina Hotel where she did another yarn installation on the second floor balcony of the lobby with the Collect 5 collective from Chicago.

      Problems downloading their images, but Alessandra De La Cruz and Kennedy Yanko had mixed media works in their room. They came here from Brooklyn via a fundraising effort in Indiegogo!
     The Sohotel Artspace displayed mixed media works by another Brooklynite, John De La O.
There's a growing number of artists creating work similar to this (pioneered in part by Greg Gossel of Shooting Gallery), a collage of layered images mixing cartoons, ads, text, logos, famous portraits, graffitti and street elements assembled using painting and silk screen as well. De La O's work has many of the aforementioned and explores "consumption, sexuality, the media and pop culture in general."

More posts to come: NADA, Fountain, etc.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Art Miami, Context, Miami Projects

     The thing one notices immediately about the Miami art fairs as opposed to NY's (OK, besides the 80 degree weather) is that Miami has alot more shows spread out over a much wider area (as in nearly $30 cab rides from the east side shows to the west side shows). Nevertheless, we made said cab ride over to the west for the Art Miami, Context and Miami Projects previews.

    The large tent structures make for a lighter, airier feel as one peruses the works. There were no major surprises at any of these shows but quite a bit of solid, quality work by blue chippers (Wayne Thiebaud painting for over 1 million $) to the unknowns, with plenty in between. Someone not unknown to me was Wayne White at Marty Walker Gallery from Dallas. White takes thrift store paintings and paints text over them, from a single word to phrases. Not simply kitsch, his rendering of the type is skilled and inviting. Another artist that I hadn't seen in awhile was Mark Newport. I first saw his work at in NY years ago and was attracted to it (via my geek side) because of his use of comic book covers. He takes a section and knits fabric through it, a style of work that was growing in popularity a few years ago and it's good to see Newport staying the course. The rep from  Greg Kucera Gallery (Seattle) said Newport's work has been purchased by several museums as of late.

     Donald Baechler had several pieces on view including this delicious one below.

     London graffitti artist Banksy had an ironic (intentionally?) piece of 4 tagged walls at the Context show -- behind velvet ropes!! Yeah yeah the statement says it is "OUT OF CONTEXT" and that the intent is to show the "debate about the ethics and importance of showing site -specific street art out of its original context" but does putting that in caps make putting a Banksy graffitti piece behind velvet ropes any less bizarre? teetering on the pretentious?

     Two eerie pieces displayed together (don't have gallery info) were this painting by Zhang Peng of a birthday celebration gone terribly wrong featuring a young girl brandishing a knife, with goldfish and a birthday cake. Next to this was a life size mannequin (albeit with large head) of Fidel Castro in suspended animation inside a Coca-Cola refrigerator case.

     Lyons Weir Gallery(NY) had thread portraits by Cayce Zevaglia, who I've written about before in this blog. The photos attempt to do some justice to these amazing pieces and her outstanding technique, patience, and artistry, but to fully grasp them you need to make an effort to see the work in person if possible.

     This piece by Yigal Ozeri at Mike Weiss Gallery (NY), oil on paper, 90x60", had us all fooled. Pretty amazing stuff in the photorealism genre.


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