Like one’s first visit to the Las Vegas strip, a first visit to an art fair can be a disorienting, even disturbing experience. Normally, in the gallery or museum context, an invisible army of curators does yeoman’s work in carefully selecting and presenting artwork according to specific historical and aesthetic criteria.
On the other hand, one of the great things about an art fair is that there is something for almost everyone. I was impressed by the small abstract paintings at a number of different booths, but there is much more than that, ranging from Meulensteen (architectural drawings by the likes of Louis Kahn, Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas, and Steven Holl), Claire Oliver Gallery (extremely shiny and reflective artworks), Pace Prints (the physically largest booth, with a high quantity of work), and Center Space Gallery (female supermodel T&A on a truly epic scale).
As a public service, I put the question to several of the exhibiting gallerists: What’s one artwork that you would point out to a first-time visitor – a piece you shouldn’t leave the fair without seeing? Their recommendations are interspersed in the listings below.
For each of the fair’s two levels, galleries are listed the order you will find them if you enter at the main entrance and generally keep to the left.
Image at top: Servane Mary, Untitled (Patty Hearst), 2011. pigment printed silk; [2 images – both front and back sides – work is displayed with both sides visible] at Martos Gallery.
LEVEL 1 (lower level)
The Green Gallery. Out of Milwaukee, this gallery put together one of the two or three best out-of-town booths. José Lerma’s Parallelogram (after Tintoretto’s Paradiso) [image above] is recommended by gallerist Andrew Edlin.
Horton Gallery. I recommend the sculpture by Aaron Spangler, “carved and painted basswood with a touch of graphite,” as monochrome as a Louise Nevelson but more off-kilter.One of the top five out-of-town booths.
Callicoon Fine Arts. I recommend the small abstract paintings by polymath prodigy Sadie Benning.
LEVEL 2 (upper level)
Talley Dunn. Gallerist Dunn recommends Erick Swenson’s Schwärmerei (2012) here [image]. It’s related to a sculpture that will be on view at the Nasher Sculpture Center for Swenson’s Sightings show. The sculpture, which depicts a rout of snails breaching the perimeter of a beer stein, is mind-bogglingly lifelike. Schwärmerei, according to linguist Robert Beard, can refer not only to the swarming of bees (or snails, for that matter), but the fanaticism of religious enthusiasts.
Perry Rubinstein. Selections from Zoe Crosher’s big project, The Reconsidered Archive of Michelle duBois, in which Crosher works with a collection of photographs of and by duBois, are recommended by gallerist Rosamund Felsen. Crosher’s work will also be at the Dallas Contemporary.
Rosamund Felsen. Gallerist Felsen recommends the collage by C. K. Wilde, If Wishes Were Horses, Beggars Would Ride [image above] which, in the home town of the Magnolia Pegasus, should find an appreciative audience.
Michael Kohn. If you missed Pacific Standard Time or weren’t around for the glory days of L.A.’s 1960s La Cienega Blvd. gallery scene, Kohn’s booth is the next best thing, with a Wallace Berman verifax Joe Goode cloud painting from 1964-65, Goode’s painting is recommended by gallerist Jonathan Viner and consultant Cindy Schwartz.
Bill Hodges. Gallerist Hodges recommends a letter-sized painting on Masonite by Norman Lewis, Untitled, Aug. 8, 1946 [image], an Abstract Expressionist pioneer and the only African-American artist to participate in the artists’ sessions at Studio 35.
Martos Gallery. Gallerist Jose Martos recommends Servane Mary’s Untitled (Patty Hearst) [image], a hanging printed silk banner to be viewed from both sides.
Leo Koenig. If you haven’t seen Gerhard Richter’s Uncle Rudi in any of its international tours, there’s a print in Koenig’s booth.
Barry Whistler. Gallerist Whistler recommends the photograph by Allison V. Smith, whose work is also on view in “Color Pictures” at Fort Worth Contemporary Arts.
Sue Scott Gallery. On my list of the top five out-of-town booths. Franklin Evans’s acrylic painting is Cubist in some subtle and refreshing ways, and Paola Ferrario’s photo diptych Bagels and Deflated Balloons [image] has a Gabriel Orozco-like insight into the poetics of the overlooked.