I’m just recently back from NYC and VT! Sarah and I were visiting numerous art and design fairs, as well as any art gallery we could find along the way. Aside form being cold, wet, and plagues by Lyme disease (upstate NY and VT), it was a great trip. Our lovely host, guide, and art world insider Paula Longendyke made it very easy to drift in and out of places from her spacious loft located right in the heart of Chelsea. Not only did Paula get us VIP passes to the Frieze, 1:54 NY (Contemporary African Art Fair), Context New York, and the Collective Design Fair, we got to meet her close friends Frank Stella at his opening, as well as Kehinde Wiley. It was two weeks jam packed with art, design, furniture, and trudging excitedly through the rainy streets. We visited the amazing studios of Rob Kalin (Founder of Etsy) and Dustin Yellin. It was amazing to see so much high quality work and meet the people who live and work in that world.
I really appreciated our ‘casual’ run-in with Frank Stella at his opening at Marianne Boesky. It was amazing to meet a true hero and pioneer in American art, and although the event took place in a high profile Chelsea gallery, the vibe was decidedly chill and homey. Honestly, it was a trip to meet this little old man whose current work looked like it dropped out of a space ship armed with advanced machines and mathematicians. Here is a man who has been steadily producing quality art work for the past 60 years, standing right on the edge of contemporary art, design, and fabrication. Contrast this with the “I have no idea what this means or how it made it into this show” qualities of the majority of the Whitney Biennial, and you’ve got the modern art world. One piece stood out at the Biennial though, and Im not sure if it was even an art piece or simply an interactive info-graphic type installation made by the museum. The full wall piece displayed a graph that tracked both the [shockingly similar] prices of Manhattan real estate and international art sales since the economic crash of 2008. The intense graphics dominated the visual field, but the real thrust of the piece centered around the daily experience of artists living and working in America today, which not surprisingly are largely not the beneficiaries of the the international art market. There were also computer stations that viewers could interact with and take a short survey that asked about the logistics of artists’ practices and survival strategies. For me it was a moment of fresh air in an environment overrun with many quizzical and seemingly random objects.
2 hours north of the city, in the middle of the woods, lies the town of Catskill, NY and the studio of Rob Kalin. After leaving Etsy, Kalin moved out to Catskill, bought an old mill on the Hudson River and got to work, creating an ideal environment for artist and creatives of all breeds a bit of respite from the noisy city. Amidst the cavernous interior of the multi story building were numerous artist studios, builders, and tool rooms that would make an MIT student jealous. No joke! This guys wood shop in the basement was off the charts, and the hi-fi stereo systems he was currently producing…from scratch…like every part…were amazing.
Back in the city, we checked out an amazing expo by Anselm Kiefer at Gagosian and Roxy Paine and Paul Kasmin. The Paine show consisted of a hand full of really strange and marvelous dioramas, constructed meticulously, creating creepily convincing physical locations skewed at weird angles. They were made to feel like viewers were in a hidden room, behind a two way mirror observing some sort of scene. Very odd and wonderful!
And although we consumed a marvelous feast during this trip, the true highlight and takeaway for me was the work at Patrick Parrish in Tribeca. The playful ceramics of Cody Hoyt were luckily still on display, along with other curious objects, furniture, and occasional 2D painting. This is where I belong, amongst the object and furniture makers, material hounds – a [slightly] less pretentious crowd if I may say so. Maybe not, but in any case, these objects really get me going in a way that 2D work just never has. And although I seriously doubt anyone would put flowers in one of Hoyt’s vases, there is still something attractive about the utilitarian origin of objects like these, in a way that painting and most sculpture just doesn’t have. So, in all, I’m super grateful to have had this opportunity to see these things, meet the people, and wear my jacket just one more time before the 100˚ weeks set in.