Today is the end of New York Art Fair Week, and my feet and eyes are exhausted from hours of looking at all kinds of art, beautiful and horrendous, in cavernous spaces. I started with Verge in Brooklyn on Thursday, although we got there a little late and mainly saw the permanent galleries’ installations. The highlight for me was DAC’s exhibit Information Economy, where there were clocks and barometers installed in each corner of the gallery, with the time and temperature being available online.
On Friday, we went to Pulse. The fair started with the above sculptural installation by Ben Wolf, which combined salvaged wood from a ship’s hull with other “architectural detritus” into a pretty awesome three-dimensional piece. It was a good start for a solid collection of art.
The first exhibitor I visited was Jen Bekman Projects, where this scissortail flycatcher by Carrie Marill caught my eye (the state bird of Oklahoma!). They were also giving away totes that said “Live with art, it’s good for you.” Couldn’t agree more.
I appreciated a lot of the whimsy and DIY aesthetic in the art, much less sterile, carefully polished, and refined like what I would see the next day at the massive Armory Show. Another trend I liked was the necessity to visually interact with some works before they would reveal their subjects to you. Like the dark paper works by Lauren Fensterstock at Sienna Gallery, where curled and ornamental patterns of dark paper were set in frames. They looked completely black until you were up close and then could see the secret tendrils inside. I also liked that in a time when absolutely everyone is walking around with an iPhone camera in hand, things like this just can’t be photographed. (I, of course, put myself in this category of people.)
A trend that got a bit tiring at Pulse, and then the day after at the Armory, was the neon words on the wall. At first it was clever, kind of taking lurid advertising and making it high art. But after seeing it repeated several times it became tired. I think my favorite of the numerous attempts at this was the above YOU WILL LIVE FOREVER. At least I could read a little into it, with the neon that would someday expire just like us, despite our quixotic optimism. And when I think of neon signs, I usually think of some desperate words plastered on strip clubs, begging you to come in and making promises to make you happy, even if they are lies.
I liked how a few of the artists successfully used digital art, including Alex McLeod‘s digital landscapes at Angell Gallery that appeared to be photographs of imaginary lands built from toothpicks. At TZR Galerie Kai Brückner, Jasper de Beijer had a three-dimensional environment that you could navigate like a video game (in fact, it was set up with a playstation remote). It was gorgeous, and I love discovering all the digital corners of the world, especially the elephant statue. And on the discussion of environments, I think it was cool how NP Contemporary made their corner into its own sort of boxing ring/theater, with red carpet and two huge inflatable sculptures by Desi Santiago, apparently representing the artist and his mother (her as a giant head, he as what looked like an old diver). Another interesting “art experience” was David Ellis’ installation at Joshua Liner Gallery. The artist had programmed a pile of white paint cans to play a 30-minute set of drum pieces. Each can had its own input and there was no extra amplification outside of the clacking, tapping, or pounding from each can.
I’ll end with my favorite art, which was Mark Schoening’s pieces at Hillary Metz. His two-dimensional pieces had an amazing depth to them with a lot of colors inspired by surf culture. In fact, he’d picked up the technique of layering the colors and patterns through learning about how surfboard designs are created. You can see some on his website, but this is another instance where a photograph just can’t show the details. But an impression is better than nothing. Especially if you are looking to buy me a gift for my upcoming birthday…I would like a snowboard version, please.