Lawrence van Hagen's Pop-Up & What to See in Chelsea

One of the most refreshing exhibitions in Chelsea right now is Whats Up New York the Pop Up three story show at 132 10th Avenue, curated by Lawrence van Hagen. Unfortunately I only learned of it a week before its upcoming closing on Thursday the 25th. Amazing stuff, with work shared between Americans and Europeans, most of the latter group unknown to me previously, but who made me glad to have come. For instance, the Larry Bell painting seen in the photo that includes van Hagen, is mirrored by two works by Martini Basher while the Daniel Turner reflects similarly paint slashes by Johnny Abrahams. There’s a really unusually configured Kenneth Noland and a super small John Chamberlain that appears to be in an argument with a crushed metal work by Ernesto Burgos. All in all, an exhibition worth visiting.

Another amazing show at Friedman Benda, a leading design gallery, combines cleanly carved work by Wendell Castle and wildly inventive furniture by Ron Arad, Humberto & Fernando Campana and a host of other designers that make a trip to this site fanciful fun. And at David Zwirner there is the never ending shock of the late conceptual artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres with a huge room bordered by wrapped candies and two small electric clocks as the only display on the opposing wall. At Lisson Gallery paintings by the centenarian Carmen Herrara show work from the last six years and at Matthew Marks the last work by the late Ellsworth Kelly document that he was still engaged in his work until the end.

Saw lots of other not always so interesting shows, but did want to mention Charlie Ahearn at P-P-O-W. Ahearn combines film and wall art, documenting street culture and the rise of hip hop in New York City, with videos like Bongo Barbershop and Dancing industry. There’s life in these works and he makes the most of it creatively. Just one last scene – at Allan Stone Projects there is a one man show of James Havard that is quite amazing. Without describing it I suggest you pay a visit. Havard hasn’t been seen in quite a while and I wonder why now that I’ve seen this exhibition.

There’s a lot going on in Chelsea that you will never see at the big fairs.

Curator of  Whats Up New York , Lawrence van Hagen adjacent to a Larry Bell painting

Curator of Whats Up New York, Lawrence van Hagen adjacent to a Larry Bell painting

Art Fairs, From the Bottom to the Top

OTE President Dr. Elin Lake-Ewald at  TEFAF in   Maastrict, Holland

OTE President Dr. Elin Lake-Ewald at TEFAF in Maastrict, Holland

From Maastrict to the PierShow with little time between – that’s the way the art world can spin. My first exposure to the European Fine Art Fair in Maastrict Holland, the most beautiful and civilized art scene I’ve ever attended. There were crowds of course, but nicely mannered and for the most part smartly dressed; the food was good to taste and elegantly presented, and the dealers in the booth eager to explain the history of their wares – for three quarters of the booths presented  Old Master work and the remainder was Modern, not Contemporary.  It was an oddly smoothly experience after all the razzmatazz of the earlier weeks in Manhattan and the hustle of the latest, the newest, the most provocative.

One fascinating fact: at the Weiss Gallery booth I was drawn in by the 16th portrait of Marie de Huelstre by Frans Pourbus the Younger and got into conversation with the dealer from whom I learned that a great source of these early portraits was from the United States! Apparently when the colonists came to America the most affluent of them were accompanied by ancestor portraits (or perhaps they weren’t yet ancestors at the time). Now there is a sort of restitution – those Europe originated paintings are being brought back across the Atlantic by English dealers and finding closer connections within England and the European Union. All I could wonder was who could possibly have wanted to part with any of these portraits, even if not a sentimentalist?

TEFAF

TEFAF

On the other hand there was literally nothing in the way of jewelry and collectibles you couldn’t find at the Pier Show last weekend. Visiting that vast space on the windy water site is like landing in the middle of a thousand attics and jewel boxes spilled higgely piggely out onto the stadium floor. No Old Masterpieces to be found here, but it’s lots of fun, especially if you enjoy bargaining a bit. As noted in the nearby photos, some booths sell well, while others look as packed at the end as they were at the beginning. Most of the dealers only show at these events and hold day jobs, so for a number this is a hobby, not a profession. You may know as much as they do, so not much chance for intimidation. For the new collector, and for those who are shy about asking prices, this may be the perfect start for dabbling your toe in that swirling pond we call the Art Market.

Written by Elin Lake-Ewald

 

Art, Art and More Art: Armory Week 2015

Similar to past years 2015 had an intensely packed schedule of art fairs and events. The foremost of which is the Armory show itself which this year hosted 199 galleries from 28 countries around the world. Other major art fairs included the ADAA show, SCOPE, PULSE, Spring Break, Independent, Art on Paper and Volta.  Overall an excitingly exhausting amount of art, some good, some bad.

Le Rêve   by Cameron Gray at Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago, IL) - The Armory Show

Le Rêve by Cameron Gray at Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago, IL) - The Armory Show

Detail of  Le Rêve   

Detail of Le Rêve 

 At this year’s art fairs there was no shortage of whimsical pieces made of unusual materials or using innovative techniques. At the ADAA Art Show,  Armory Show, and Volta we enjoyed works with the trompe-l'œil, illusionary quality that invites the viewer to take a closer look.

This iteration of Le Rêve by Cameron Gray at Carl Hammer Gallery (Chicago, IL) is actually a skillfully composed mosaic of tiny florals. Three steps back, the eye combines them into the lyrical form of Picasso’s famous mistress.

 At Adler & Conkright Fine Art (New York, NY), a quiet, clever work on paper by Liliana Porter features a wire eyeglass frame collaged atop its silkscreened shadow (in the slideshow below).  

A large and intricate geometric pattern by Leonardo Ulian shown by The Flat – Massimo Carasi (Milan) initially appears to be a web of jewels, but further examination reveals it to be a network of electrical components.

Detail of  Leonardo Ulian's work

Detail of Leonardo Ulian's work

Leonardo Ulian peice at the Flat - ADAA Show

Leonardo Ulian peice at the Flat - ADAA Show

A cheekily funny work that could easily be passed over, were it placed almost anywhere besides at the center of a contemporary art collection, is Gavin Turk’s American Bag at Ben Brown Fine Arts (London) (in the slideshow below).  Looking like a jumbo-sized black garbage bag it is an interesting statement piece for home or yard. Humble as it is, the label confirms it is painted bronze.

One fair that stuck out of the crowd was Spring Break. Located in a derelict post office Spring Break is a curator-driven art fair started by Ambre Kelly and Andrew Gori in 2009. Unlike its counterparts this fair is focused on installations and experiential art and is definitely a bit more rough around the edges. We loved the Christine Sciulli Propulsion Field light installation. For many it seemed like an oasis away from the other gallery driven art fairs, one that was willing to experiment and even get a little gritty. 

A Night at Blumka Gallery

The cocktail reception at Blumka Gallery, hosted by Anthony Blumka and Florian Eitle-Böhler on January 27. The night most of Manhattan closed down for the snow blizzard that never happened. Fortunately, that did not keep the die-hard art connoisseurs of Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque fine and decorative arts at home.

Open only by appointment, even with a room filled with the art patrons, museum donors, curators, educators, and in this case an appraiser, the gallery space still had a calm and serene museum cathedral-like environment. Just take a look inside one of their vitrines, which could have been as well inside the Metropolitan Museum of Art or the British Museum.

The Blumka gallery is one of the most important galleries that cater to private clients who collect these centuries old master works. Seen were curators and educators from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Frick Collection. The appraiser’s former professors were there who also work at these museums. These art professionals appreciate the well edited works of art that Blumka provides to its patrons, who often donate these works to art museums and institutions.

It was a very enriching and entertaining night even if most of the city was hunkered down at home. At least, we learned something about what the highest aspirations of Western cultural heritage can offer. At Blumka Gallery, you will be rewarded many times over.

Exploring the Outsider Art Fair

Gaela Fernandez, Creative Growth Gallery

Gaela Fernandez, Creative Growth Gallery

Whoever missed the Outsider Art Show this year missed a lot of fun. Lots of interest and enthusiasm shown on the faces of fairgoers. Not used to seeing so much courtesy and information provided by dealers speaking with people I was pretty sure were interested but not able to buy the often expensive art on the walls. I saw one dealer giving a lot of time to students who were taking notes while a couple of well-heeled potential clients cooled their heels in her booth.  Maybe it wasn’t good business, but I liked what I saw.

 There were two notable things about the exhibition. One was the very high quality of the offerings and the other was steadily rising prices. Outsider art has moved into the big time, although the highest price I found was the $260,000 for a Martin Ramirez graphite, tempera and crayon drawing on paper, 48 x 36 inches.  AT Creative Growth Gallery, Oakland, California, there was a Judith Scott ball of twine priced at $50,000. (Currently Scott has a show at the Brooklyn Museum curated by Catherine Morris, an OTE alum). The photo, seen left, is of the woolly ball and Gaela Fernandez, the gallery’s Paris representative. Almost as much as the $60,000 asked for a Henry Darger mixed media work on paper, 8.5 x 11.75 inches from 1950, depicting a fierce looking military man.

 At Marion Harris the strange photos of dolls who are posed as children, and who look like children, by Morton Bartlett, are priced in the $22,000 range. Can I say I enjoy them but at the same time they creep me out? Well, I just did.

 What did I think was the most exceptional work in the show? Since I think it may be the closest to fine art, albeit by an untrained artist (although trained as a draftsman), the extraordinary living buildings by A.G. Rizzoli struck me as most memorable. “A Building with Mr.and Mrs. Harold Healy Symbolically Sketched” from 1937, revealed how one artist’s thinking process worked. He apparently loved the Healys because he made their elegant lofty twin towers very beautiful, while their unliked cousin was a square concrete box, and a rambunctious 3-year-old became his own structure. The artist predicted the rambunctious boy would become mayor when he grew up. While  the kid never made it he did actually run for the office as an adult. Bonnie Grossman, the director of The Ames Gallery in Berkeley, California, (see below) stands in front of one of Rizzoli’s great buildings. While this one is priced at $92,000, there are a number of smaller drawings that are in the $2,000 range.

Bonnie Grossman, The Ames Gallery

Bonnie Grossman, The Ames Gallery

 I’ve always like the work of the mysterious Gayleen Aiken at Luise Ross Gallery, her depiction of her imaginery family, all carefully named and described in detail, have always fascinated me, and their prices, $8,000 and $12,000, seem within reason for a true outsider artist.

 All in all, a show that should not have been missed by anyone who enjoys the art of the unknown by the untrained.


Exhibitions in Winter

Susan Teller, Director of Susan Teller Gallery

Susan Teller, Director of Susan Teller Gallery

We attend some exhibitions because we expect to learn something new about art, antiques or various noteworthy collectibles, and some we go to because we hope to be surprised.

 And that’s exactly what happened on Sunday at the newly named “Metro Curates,” a channeling of the Folk Art Show of yesteryear. The slightly off kilter photograph, the eccentric cabinet object, and the amazing folk art object came together for a few days in the Metropolitan Pavilion. New off the drawing board contemporary art seemed somewhat out of place, perhaps because it wasn’t weird enough, but there were plenty of old folk friends who filled that bill.  Also somewhat startling was a wall of early works by William Baziotes at Susan Teller Gallery. Hadn’t seen those before and thought they seemed as far from Baziote’s mature style as does Roy Lichtenstein’s early work differ from his exploding Pop Art images.

Since the Estate of William Baziotes does not permit photographs of his  work on display, we posed Ms. Teller in front of partial images of Hugh Mesnibov and Ann Ryan, whose estates she also handles.

Hours later, at the annual Winter Antiques Show at the 67th Street Armory, the splendor of the best in 18th/19th century furnishings, art and ceramics was revealed. Although the antiques market in general has declined, the Best of the Best never does, whether in fine or decorative art, and there were outstanding artifacts in this fair’s edition. I was particularly impressed by the gorgeous chandeliers and lighting fixtures, and some lovely paintings that fill the eye in the way that empty idea canvases do not. In front of a John Singer Sargent and a Childe Hassam painting are Fran Zeman and Ellen Epstein, both appraisers with ASA and RICS designations, and Alan Adelson, Assistant Director of the gallery founded by his father, Warren Adelson, and notable for work by Sargent and Mary Cassatt. Alan is among a new generation of art dealers to join the ranks of the many sons and daughters of established gallerists.

Fran Zeman , Ellen Epstein and Alan Adelson

Fran Zeman , Ellen Epstein and Alan Adelson

 The Winter Antiques Show runs through much of this week, but if you were lucky enough to get there over the weekend you’ve missed the slough through the snow that lays ahead. Good luck.

 By Elin Lake-Ewald

Walking Off Art, Just Off Madison

On Wednesday night, in the now arctic Manhattan, during an art walk entitled “Just Off Madison,” American Art dealers opened their doors to give art lovers who actually work during the day an opportunity to view some pretty good art that art journalists seldom report about these days. Seduced by All Contemporary Art All the Time, they would have missed the fabulous “Bal Martinique,” a 1928 oil by William Glackens of an exuberant and wildly colorful dance hall, traveling to the Barnes Foundation. The coy response by the Kraushaar Gallery assistant when the price was asked was “above $500,000.” I had guessed closer to a million. Why the secrecy?

Pamphlets from participating galleries

Pamphlets from participating galleries

 Graham Gallery was showing two Norman Bluhms, vividly colored and exciting paintings at $150,000 for the 72 x 48 inch, and $65,000 for the 30 x 22 inch from 1961. The Remington “Bronco Buster” from 1895, 23 x 20 inches, was priced at $285,000. There was a room filled with rather wonderful sculpture, definitely worth a visit – or two. Debra Force showed Wyeth, Conner Rosenkranz displayed pieces that included Paul Jennewein, and Menconi + Schoelkopf had a really beautiful “Little Girl in Large Red Hat,” circa 1881, sitting opposite the entrance of their space, as if waiting patiently for some kind visitor to take her by the hand and out of the madding crowd. 

Cold weather may have kept many away, but the good thing about this art is that it is still there and right off Madison Avenue.

Written by Elin Lake-Ewald