mid-January Art Shows in NYC

At certain times of the year art events come in clusters, filled with relentless high pitched chatter, multiple shoe changes, frantic scurries across town weighted down with bags of free brochures and occasional energy bars, allowing little time for sleep or regular meals or coherent thought.

Some of these times are more fun than others though because the regimen isn’t at all grueling and the discoveries negate the three hours standing/walking without a chair. Such was the case in mid-January with the Outsider Art Fair, the Winter Antiques Show, the Master Drawings multiple venues, and the IFA lecture on Carolingian Ivory. The last two weren’t mandatory for art appraisers, although they should have been for anyone who says he or she “really loves art.”

What did I take away from the Outsider Fair? A reaffirmation of what I have told colleagues here and in Europe – this is an expanding field, worthy of scholarly investigation, and increasingly appealing to collectors. The Fair itself is endlessly amusing, but also deeply fascinating, both because of the singular visions of the artists involved, both those with histories of mental disabilities, obsessional delusions or intuitive brilliance for art making. And the prices are so seductive.

Once I had an office only a block away from the Museum of Sex on West 27th Street, but never had either the inclination to visit or the courage, perhaps because the entrance was right smack on Fifth. But the invitation to view a show of erotic Outsider Art eradicated any possible prurient interests on my art and transformed it into an educational event. My only post-attendance worry is that the house photographer took a photo of me for their records and I can’t for my life remember what I was standing in front of at the momentous time.

As of this writing I still have time to return to the Winter Antiques Show because this finely tuned panorama of exquisite items cannot be enjoyed in one pallid walk through. It’s changing a little though, moving slightly and discreetly into a modern age without broadcasting it, but I hope not too much. There are a great many other exhibitions in Manhattan that show marvelous contemporary design, but where else would one see Pitcairn Island wood carvings of Fish carved by the descendants of Fletcher Christian and his band of settlers who had been the mutineers of the ship Bounty. These marvelously elegant inventive miro wood carvings were created by the first through eighth generation descendants of the sailors who had arrived at the Polynesian island of Pitcairn in 1790, found this week at the aptly named Lost City Arts.

I won’t even attempt to discuss the other two events because speaking the language of Esoteric can’t be properly translated on Twitter or on an OTE blog.

Dr. Elin Lake-Ewald ASA, FRICS, President of O'Toole-Ewald Art Associates Inc.