More Notes from ABMB etc. 2008

Marcus Coates still from Dawn Chorus (2006) courtesy of Workplace Gallery. One of Coates’ volunteers who recreated bird sounds as the artist filmed him at home.

NADA (the New Art Dealers Alliance) is held in one of the most congenial spaces: the Ice Palace film studios. I always enjoy the fact that its galleries include those from cities I’m unlikely to get to: Malmo, Warsaw, Bucharest and Gateshead. In fact, Workplace Gallery, Gateshead had one of my favorite works of the day: Marcus Coates‘ multi-chanel video Dawn Chorus. Shot for 14 monitors and shown here on seven, it was the rare piece that was accessible and serious – and funny. Coates, who is interested in the human/nature relationship, found individuals who were willing to re-create accurately recorded songs of Northumbria’s birds. He spent time with each of them in home or work environments and filmed as they recreated the bird songs. The description in no way does justice to the delightful quirky-ness of the piece which captures a quintessentially-British passion for birds.

Marcus Coates still from Dawn Chorus (2006) courtesy of Workplace Gallery . Another of Coates’ chirping subjects.

I’d been told to look out for Mike Womack’s work, and found not only his art, but the ingenuous artist himself at ZieherSmith. His presence and detailed explanation for the installation of Metronome (2006) were useful, even if I can’t entirely recreate it. Installed in a darkened room, the contraption was a painfully-recreated version of an early mechanical television, which used external light and mirrors to create an image of the Hindenberg blimp. Something about the optimism of technology captured both in television and flight, tempered – or literally brought down to earth – by the blimp’s spectacular crash. A Tower of Babel-type warning, I assume.

Mike Womack’s mechanical television, Metronome (2009) at ZeiherSmith.

Canada Gallery, New York papered its booth at NADA with the New York Times. The large painting on the back wall is by Katherine Barnhardt whom the gallerist described as her favorite “sloppy painter,” a new term for “bad painting,” I guess.

Larry Mangel of Cerealart had a space near the publications area (disclosure: he gave me a token for a much-appreciated beer at a point when I could barely drag myself further). He was doing a lively business. Mickalene Thomas stopped by with a friend to check on two of her pieces which Cerealart had produced.

Mickalene Thomas in front of Brawlin’ Spitfire Wrestlers (2007) at Cerealart.

On to Pulse

Kyoko Nakamura at Geisai, in front of a wall of densely-covered pages from her sketchbooks which explore the imagery of global consumer culture and play with the meanings of words in various languages.

Geisai, the juried exhibition of international artists who lack gallery representation was once again in the second floor of the building occupied by Pulse. It featured 21 artists selected for the Miami fair as well as 10 award winners from previous versions of Gesai in Japan. Each artist had his or her own booth, and the chance to talk with the artists with no dealer mediating gave Geisai a distinctive and intimate air.

Hiro Sakaguchi’s paintings at Mizuma Art’s booth at Pulse. At top his characteristic airplanes have shrunk to toy size compared to the bear that looks about to gobble one up.

It’s dangerous to try to characterize the fairs, so let’s just say that at Pulse I found myself noticing drawing to a surprising degree. I saw a tiny drawing by Randall Sellers at Richard Heller Gallery of Santa Monica; Heller said he “likes obsessives.” Indeed a number of his artists looked as though they might have trained as illuminators (in the medieval sense). They might also have been illustrators, but for the context of their work. The gallery had a beautiful recent book, 73 Sunshine, by Jason Jagel, whose work I had seen in more than one gallery in Miami last year. Jagel creates particularly rich and layered paintings out of line drawings that individually are illustration-like. Drawings were on every support and at every scale. Catherine Clark Gallery (San Francisco) showed a wall-sized watercolor on paper by Josephine Taylor that was so delicate and translucent it looked as though she had exhaled the pigments rather than applying them with a brush. Alice Maher, an Irish artist shown by Purdy Hicks (London) drew with black paint on ostrich eggs.

Alice Maher’s drawings on ostrich eggs at Purdy Hicks. The artist works across a large range of genres from performance to painting.

I found two more Philadelphians at Pulse: Mizuma Art (Tokyo) showed two paintings by Hiro Sakaguchi (above), and Lee Stoetzel whose twice life-sized leaf-filled gutter (all beautifully crafted from hardwoods) snaked around the booth, encircling all the rest of the art at Mixed Greens (New York). Reminded me to check my own gutters when I return home.

Lee Stoetzel’s piece dominated the booth at Mixed Greens (New York).

Detail of Lee Stoetzel’s leaves, each made from the corresponding wood of its species.
Detail of Lee Stoetzel’s leaves, each made from the corresponding wood of its species.

This is the second of two reports from Miami. For the first, see here.