The first week of March is art fair week in New York City. At the center is the Armory Show, held on two huge, adjacent piers on the Hudson River, which are the temporary home for over 270 international galleries. The press for the last few editions of the Armory has not been the best, so there have been a few other fairs storming the castle making attempts at what they perceive to be a weakened throne. While there have always been other satellite fairs during Armory week, the newer ones are notable for their quality and spirit of innovation. But none of them match the Armory for sheer size. The Armory Show is the largest in New York City and, with Art Basel/Miami Beach in December, the largest in the US. Art Basel in the summer is the largest of all of them, but fairs like Art Hong Kong are making inroads both in quality and size. The other fairs in New York during Armory week are The Independent, ADAA (Art Dealers Association of America), Volta, Scope, Pulse, Pool, Verge Art Brooklyn, Red Dot, Fountain and this year’s newbie, the Dependent. I managed to visit all of them save Red Dot, Fountain, Dependent, and Pool.
On the photographic front, the best booth was not quite photographic. Madder139 (http://www.madder139.com/) had graphite drawings by Paul Chiappe which were dead-on re-creations of fuzzy snapshots and yearbook photos. From the technical mastery of the medium through to the sharpshooter focus of the emotional tone, these were great works.
Also at Volta, Marx and Zavaterro Gallery from SanFrancisco (http://www.marxzav.com/) had the multimedia work of Bradley Castellanos. Working in a combination of oil, acrylic, photo collage, and resin, Castellanos’ complex, layered pieces address man’s relationship to the environment and world ecosystems. I heard about the work form a curator I know and trust. She said Mr. Castellanos is quite hot and being acquired by some notable collections and institutions, but my first impression was quite negative. I found the work cluttered and unappealing. But based on her strong recommendation, I did some more research and looked at more examples online. I can’t say I’m a total convert, but I’m beginning to see the appeal of the work. The technical command is unassailable, and he instantly presents a distinctive visual style.
Pulse Fair was, as usual, filled with some exciting work though most of it was not photographic. Galeria Havana (http://www.galerihabana.com/) had some lightboxes and pin/thread photos by Cuban superstar Carlos Garaicoa, but the standouts in the booth were sculptures by Ivan Capote and Giselle Léon. Von Lintel Gallery (http://www.vonlintel.com/) had some dramatic examples by personal favorite Marco Breuer as well as some stunning typewriter pieces by Allyson Strafella (also shown at the Gallery Joe booth). Kudlek van der Grinten from Köln (http://kudlek-vandergrinten.de/) unfortunately didn’t bring any Thomas Böing photographs, but I love the drawings by Lucie Beppler that they did bring (again, also at Gallery Joe).