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Light fare at the fairs-Part 1


Maybe we went on less crowded days this year but the four fairs Libby and I saw Thursday and Friday (Pulse, Armory, Scope and Volta) were less populated with lookers than when we went to the fairs last year. But because a fair has nowhere to go but up, the numbers of exhibitors was greater than ever (as was the number of fairs–I believe there were 13 this year). We swam through masses of booths with thousands and thousands of pieces of art and found lots interesting things, and some that made us cheer (singly or in unison). Libby will tell you of her fair experience when she returns from New York (she’s still there) but here’s my response to what I saw. And because the fairs all merge into one big art experience I’m not separating the art by fair. It’s all one big art ocean out there for a viewer so I’ll give you all the fish in one basket. I have many more photos on flickr — Scope and Volta and Pulse and the Armory.
I will put in more links soon.

Old Friends

Mark Shetabi
Mark Shetabi’s Model at Pulse.

Something about finding the familiar in the crowd is energizing. And each year I find old friends and am heartened along what seems an arduous route. This year, Pulse has Mark Shetabi‘s Model front and center, a piece that debuted in Philadelphia at Jaskey Gallery in 2007. The 34-ft. long parking enclosed ramp looks fabulous in Pulse’s large entry way. With its mystery locked inside it it and people stopping to puzzle over it the piece reminded me of the monolith in 2001 Space Odyssey–cue the music!

Jim Lee
Jim Lee paint/sculpt object on the wall near Shetabi’s Model at Pulse.

Nearby, Jim Lee‘s paint/scultpt objects complement it with their own mini mysteries. (I’ve seen Lee’s work at Becker Gallery, and recently he showed at Open Lens gallery at UArts).

Martin Wilner
Martin Wilner’s month of drawings at Pierogi at the Armory.

Martin Wilner‘s exquisite face drawings at Pierogi at the Armory drew us right in. The odd grid arrangement is based on a calendar month, February, 2008. Making History 2008, is a face a day with words on top, based on daily news stories (one says “bank chief faces questioning”). Wilner was there and we got to chat briefly with him which was lovely. He had a great show at Gallery Joe in 2006.

Leonardo Drew
Leonardo Drew’s wall of vitrines with cast papier mache objects.

Leonardo Drew‘s large installation at Pulse placed white papier mache objects (a vacuum cleaner, a radio, a radiator–things from daily life from which they were cast) in individual vitrines and stacked them like a wall of ghostly specimen jars. I don’t know for a fact but I believe the paper objects were made at the Fabric Workshop when Drew was in residence a few years ago. The Fab displayed them not in vitrines but on the floor like they were perhaps items turned up in an archeological dig. If these are the same objects, I love this treatment which adds to the individual objects’ oddness and mystery.

Michael Hernandez de Luna
Michael Hernandez de Luna’s sheet of stamps and letter sent by the USPS, at Pulse.

Michael Hernandez de Luna, one of the world premier stamp and mail artists has work at Pulse — and a sample letter proving that his trompe l’oeil philately actually gets accepted by USPS. It’s unbelievable. Hernandez de Luna showed in Philadelphia at Nexus a while back– in fact I think he may have organized the show. It was all mail and stamp art in which artblog pal Matthew Rose appeared. Speaking of all things postal this seems to be a USPS year with several other artists using snail mail accoutrements in their work. More on that in the next post.

Mike Waugh at Schroeder Romero at Pulse. The Law Enforcement Commission (Synopsis, part I and part n).
24″ x 38.2″ each panel.

Painting didn’t have a big presence this year although drawing — miniature or wall-spanning — was huge.

Mike Waugh
Mike Waugh at Schroeder Romero at Pulse (detail)

Mike Waugh, like Dominick McGill (see Objects below) use words in their works. Waugh’s drawing — ink on mylar — is made up of words from the Law Enforcement Commission report.

Dan Perjovschi
Dan Perjovschi’s wall of drawings (detail) at the Armory-Lombard Fried

Dan Perjovschi has a wall of drawings at the Armory that call out to Andy Moon Wilson‘s business card sized drawings at Scope.

Andy Moon Wilson
Andy Moon Wilson’s business card size drawings at Scope-Curator’s Office

Adam Dant
Adam Dant (detail) Volta-Hales
ink on paper

Adam Dant, a 41 year old British artist, has monumental ink drawings of imagined post-apocalyptic monuments. The image above shows a new Statue of Liberty imagined as Watteau‘s Pierrot. The huge drawings take about a month to make, the gallerist said. We ran into collectors and bloggers James Wagner and Barry Hoggard who had just talked with Dant. Apparently the artist used to give away a broadsheet of his drawings every day a while back as one of his projects. It’s political work and really amazingly well done. Look for Barry and James’s posts for more.

Julian Opie at the Armory
Julian Opie at the Armory

Julian Opie‘s animated diptych painting of Mt. Fuji and two people in a motorboat on a lake in the foreground is a great new idea in painting. The motorboat putt-putts through the scene quietly left to right; Mt. Fuji stays put and the reeds sway quietly. It’s Paradise or Paradise Lost.

Dominick McGill
Dominick McGill’s cast resin body parts at the Armory. The overwrought drawing and lettering is from various news sources and the whole thing’s political.

Object-making was everywhere in evidence and pretty much everywhere wonderful, from Jessica Stockholder‘s assemblages (not shown) to Sylvie Fleury‘s high tech parody of a Donald Judd stack infested with what looks like Ken Price glittery Smurfs, both at the Armory. Dominick McGill‘s wonderfully overwrought distended stomach and skull, adorned with writings and drawings from the news, reminded me a little of Duke Riley‘s obsessive take on things, although Riley is more historically-and locationally-focused and McGill’s work is hotter and more political. It is wonderful to see the use of words as drawn motifs. It’s sometimes not enough to create an image.

David Ersser
David Ersser’s bedsit installation at Volta, Seventeen, London

British artist David Ersser‘s balsa wood bedsit installation at Volta is a wow. Not only that but according to Volta’s press materials it sold on opening day for $85,000. We spoke to the young artist who told us the piece went to an American private collector and that he was working on a new piece about the ghost bike memorials (street memorials in New York made to honor bikers killed in car accidents)

Sylvie Fleury
Sylvie Fleury at the Armory-Galerie Eva Presenhuber

Sculpture looks particularly strong this year with objects that are approachable in ways that paintings — with their hectoring or too overheated vibe — often aren’t.

Ena Swansea
Ena Swansea’s toxic looking painting at the Armory-Crone Galerie
World HQ, graphite oil on canvas

Tom Sachs
Tom Sachs at the Armory. Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

This is the year of appliances and everyday objects. Not only Mark Shetabi’s parking garage and Leonardo Drew’s radiators and other household objects but Tom Sachs‘ hand made air conditioner (above) was a new kind of eye candy — a lame-looking cooling device made ultra-hot because of its hand-made quality.

Iris Kittner
Iris Kittner’s realistic-looking masked figures at Scope-Galerie Romerapotheke

Iris Kittner makes life size figures clothed in real clothes and puts them in real environments (on a subway platform in Berlin) and lets people interact with them. People poke them and hug them said the gallerist and in one case some folks destroyed one of them. The gallerist said the works sell for $12,500 and that they sold a bunch of them in Miami (he didn’t say whether they’d sold any in New York).

Mark Dion
Mark Dion at the Armory.

And Mark Dion‘s fake jello molds (In SITU-Armory) were archeology of 50s-era American kitchens–terrific!

Stay tuned for Part 2…