This is the first of our Armory Arts Week recap. Our next will feature gallerists.
For Armory Arts Week 2013 in New York City, CARTWHEEL tapped several artists to send us updates and opinions through the week (We stayed home in L.A. busily prepping for our annual Pop-Up Art Show, which is itself a mini art fair). Here are highlights of The Armory Show, VOLTA, SCOPE, Fountain Art Fair, and Armory Art Week according to artists Stas Orlovski, Marc Trujillo and Greg Haberny (with additional photos from CARTWHEEL friend Lele Barnett) who braved springtime New York City chill in the name of art fairs, now deemed a necessary pleasure by nearly all in the art world. Writing in New York Magazine, art critic and television personality Jerry Saltz admits he doesn’t care for art fairs overall, then concedes:
However, I love that art fairs offer a lot of artists and dealers chances to pocket a little cash….I also love that a few enlightened, brave curators go and don’t only follow the correct trends buying the perfect art that fits perfectly into their teeny-tiny niche of art history. Some curators really are there looking for themselves….
Do we need art fairs? I don’t. But for now and for whatever complex reasons, we do. That’s how the art game works right now.
I’m surprised you’re at this [the Armory Fair]. A lot of artists hate seeing this side of things since it’s so commercial.
Marc’s response was:
Actually, I like it because it’s where we get to see you like you see us. You’re on display with a small selection of works that lets us look into your frontal lobe.
Marc told CARTWHEEL:
The Armory Fair was a little less dense this year, apparently [because] they made it harder for galleries to get in, so there was a little more room around things…The fair is huge, like an encyclopedia, but with a bias based on the intentions of each gallerist accruing into sprawling semi-coherence.
Along with parties (for artists Hilary Harkness and Cary Leibowitz aka Candyass), Trujillo attended the ADAA, the Independent art fair (which he calls “a small, forward looking fair”), and was invited to by artist Mikel Glass to the Unfair. Trujillo tells us about Unfair:
This fair was small, artist-run and was more touching because of it. Musicians, dancers, performance artists along with painters and sculptors came together in a raw space with free ice cream from sponsors Ben and Jerry’s–it was the one fair where you could feel an actual heartbeat.
VOLTA has unique concept: One artist per booth, by invitation. Now in a new location at 82 Mercer in the center of Soho, and spread across two floors of a charming brick loft building with hardwood floors, the fair felt intimate and consistently buzzing with a steady stream of visitors. Invited artists with solo exhibitions included Stas Orlovski. He found the solo show concept more approachable than the big fair, explaining:
The solo booth format served most artists well, providing fair-goers with a rich context and a comprehensive presentation of the work. There was a strong international presence with galleries from, Europe, South America and Asia. Standouts include Clint Jukkala at Fred Giampietro, Lynn Aldrich at Jenkins Johnson Gallery, Christine Frerichs at Gallery KM [Her show opens there in June] and Diana Copperwhite at the Dublin, Ireland-based Kevin Kavanagh Gallery. In contrast, the Armory Fair was overwhelming in both size and scope. Although the wide aisles and high ceilings made for a more comfortable viewing experience, the sheer volume of work would require at least a couple of visits. I spent eight hours at the Armory and still had to rush through the Modern section (Pier 92), which had some fabulous work.
For Orlovski, who is part of the “Drawing Surrealism” exhibition that traveled from LACMA to the Morgan Library and Museum, the highlights from the Armory Contemporary at Pier 94 included Nick Cave at Jack Shainman, Patrick Wilson at Susanne Vielmetter, and Roy McMakin at Anthony Meier. Orlovski told us:
Pier 92, the fine and historical art portion of the Armory Show had a number of gems scattered throughout including incredible collages by Jess, a treasure trove of Edvard Munch woodcuts, powerful drawings by Bill Traylor, and a haunting Giorgio de Chirico painting. At the end of the day, if I could take one thing home with me it would be a toss-up between a 1969 Philip Guston painting of a paint bucket with brushes at the Corkin Gallery booth [at Pier 94] or any one of the Morandi paintings on display at the Galleria d’Arte Maggiore G.A.M booth [at Pier 92]…
As an artist who participates in art fairs (including the current VOLTA NY), it is clear that they are and will continue to be a fundamental aspect of the art world. Globalization has shifted the way people do business and for better or worse experience art. At their best, fairs provide a concentrated experience that presents a snapshot of the contemporary art landscape at any given moment and offers those in it some sense of community. Perhaps a more productive way to think of art fairs is to embrace their larger social function – one that transcends both art and commerce.
Also showing at VOLTA, Greg Haberny exhibited his anxiety-ridden installation “A Plane Crashed into my Face,” and other works. In a recent interview with CARTWHEEL, the New York installation artist said his work is getting more bizarre. Appreciative to be at VOLTA, he said:
Art fairs create an environment where more artists have an opportunity to show–you can bring a large scale survey of art into an environment that readily allows that opportunity. I think art fairs are good for artists, for collectors, and for cities that support them economically. I think they give people an insight into art that they may not traditionally be exposed to, especially young and emerging art.
Top image: Adrian Grenier, Greg Haberny, and Michael Lyons Wier at VOLTA. Courtesy of Lyons Wier Gallery.
Coming soon: Gallerists discuss Armory Arts Week, their highlights and impressions. In the meantime, here are images shot by collector and CARTWHEEL friend, Lele Barnett: