Thursday, May 17, 2012

NADA New York

by Robert Boyd

NADA is the New Art Dealers Alliance, a non-profit trade group founded in 2002. They had the smallest, most cramped art fair in New York the weekend before last, but for the viewer, it had one great advantage over Frieze and Pulse--it was free. Here is what they write about themselves on their webpage (emphasis mine).
Founded in 2002, New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) is a not-for-profit 501(c)(6) collective of professionals working with contemporary art. Our mission is to create an open flow of information, support, and collaboration within our field and to develop a stronger sense of community among our constituency. We believe that the adversarial approach to exhibiting and selling art has run its course. We believe that change can be achieved through fostering constructive thought and dialogue between various points in the art industry from large galleries to small spaces, non-profit and commercial alike.  Through support and encouragement, we facilitate strong and meaningful relationships between our members working with new contemporary and emerging art; while enhancing the public’s interaction with contemporary art.
Our international group of members includes both galleries (including non-profit spaces) and individuals (art professionals, independent curators, and established gallery directors). The various perspectives and ideas offered by our diverse roster creates a network which, at its most basic, is a resource which people could contribute to and take as much (or as little) as they are inclined. We believe in a spirit of friendly competition and the power of working collectively to gain access to resources and to provide services to artists and the public that we could not as individuals.  The benefits for some may be a matter of business, for others a source of intellectual or aesthetic stimulation.
This is a strange mission for a bunch of art dealers. And this art fair, like every other art fair I've been to, seemed to be all about selling art. I wonder what they mean by the "adversarial approach." It strikes me that art galleries depend on cooperation to function. No artist, for example, has to sign with a particular dealer, and no collector has to buy from that dealer. These are voluntary exchanges, which is the essence of capitalism. But perhaps they are speaking of competition. But when I hear phrases like "friendly competition" and "working collectively," I start to worry about cartels.

But that's neither here nor there in discussing this art fair. As I said, it was quite cramped. There were three floors of exhibitors in a narrow building in Chelsea. They also used the roof of the building, where there was food and a tent with Phaidon selling books. I started at the roof and worked my way down.

Clearing Gallery
Koenraad Dedobbeleer at Clearing Gallery

I liked this piece by Koenraad Dedobbeleer, but the weird thing is that it took up the entire floorspace of the booth except for one sliver at the end. (Because of this, it was impossible to photograph the whole piece.) At Frieze, a piece like this would have been surrounded by air on all four sides. Fortunately, his other piece could be hung on the wall out in the corridor between booths.

Clearing Gallery
Koenraad Dedobbeleer at Clearing Gallery

It's make a good sign for a Chicken and Waffles restaurant, no?

I also liked everything I saw at Toronto's Tomorrow Gallery but I didn't get all the artists names. I don't think they had the art labelled. I talked to people there, but the artists names flew in one ear and out the other. I wasn't clever enough to take notes. Either or both of these pieces could be by Egan Frantz, but I'm not sure. Any Pan readers know?

Tomorrow Gallery
piece by an unknown artist at Tomorrow Gallery

Tomorrow Gallery
piece by an unknown artist at Tomorrow Gallery

DUVE Gallery
Chris Succo, (left to right) Flag Piece #8, Flag Piece #7, Flag Piece #9, 2012, b/w photography, laquer, aluminum,mdf, artists frame at DUVE Gallery

These three paintings by Chris Succo were shown at Berline's DUVE Gallery booth. They appear from a distance and in this photograph to be minimal abstractions--good ones, to my eye--but this is a case where there are other things happening in the work that can be easily shown in a photograph.

Lisa Cooley Gallery
Cynthia Daignault, What came is gone forever, every time, 2012, Oil on linen at Lisa Cooley

Lisa Cooley Gallery had several things I liked, including this painting by Cynthia Daignault. The very simple, flat painting of the foreground objects makes them look like they come from an old animated movie. But they really jump out at you against the patterned background. This is something I've seen Gary Panter do in some of his paintings.

Andy Coolquit
Andy Coolquitt at Lisa Cooley

Austin's Andy Coolquitt had a show that just closed at Lisa Cooley Gallery, and he had a few pieces in her space at NADA. He's the second Austin artist whose work I saw at the art fairs (Buster Graybill had work at Frieze). I didn't see work by any Houston artists at any of the three shows, I'm sorry to report. But given the size of the shows, I might have overlooked it.

Andy Coolquit
Andy Coolquitt at Lisa Cooley

Is Andy Coolquitt a heavy smoker, or does he just find all these used-up lighters in the street?

Andy Coolquit
Andy Coolquitt at Lisa Cooley

Now here is a sculpture that doesn't take up too much space! I like its grungy elegance.

Western Exhibitions
Ben Stone, So Fresh, 2005, Resin Coated Polystyrene, supported by a John Riepenhoff art stand at Western Exhibitions

Western Exhibitions
Deb Sokolow, de Kooning’s Bell System (Version 3, 2012 acrylic, graphite, charcoal, tape, collage on panel, supported by a John Riepenhoff art stand at Western Exhibitions

When you walk into Western Exhibitions' booth, you think, "Oh my God, they hired a bunch of penniless artists to stand there and hold up the art!" But what's holding up these works by Deb Sokolow and Ben Stone is actually a group of functional sculptures by John Riepenhoff.

Western Exhibitions
John Riepenhoff, Art Stand,  at Western Exhibitions

The press release from Western Exhibitions says, "While Riepenhoff’s sculptures literally support paintings, they also metaphorically represent his support for other artists, simulating the perspective of the art-handler and making visible the unseen laborer integral to exhibition-making." I'm in favor of that! Riepenhoff seems like he has done a lot to support artists over the years: "John Riepenhoff is a painter, he co-runs The Green Gallery in Milwaukee and has worked as a curator, art handler and art fair director (Milwaukee International, The Dark Fair)." But I can't get away how creepy it is to see these legs sticking out from under these artworks--it's uncanny.

Razvan Boar
paintings by Razvan Boar at Ana Cristea

I found myself drawn to the paintings of Razvan Boar, a painter from Romania. This is going to sound weird, but his work reminded me a little of the painting of Dorothy Hood. It's the way he handles edges that is similar to her edges. Of course, she was an abstractionist, and Boar is a figurative painter. But there is a continuity across these categories--and some painters move back and forth.

42nd Street_Melting apple
Keiichi Tanaami, 42nd street_melting apple, late 60s, ink and photo paper collage on paper at Nanzuka

I had never heard of Keichi Tanaami before seeing this work at the Nanzuka booth. Wikipedia describes him as "one of the leading pop artists of postwar Japan."But one thing that is different about him and American Pop Artists is that his work was obviously made for print. This piece is an example of that. The stuff surrounding the figures is half-tone film, which yellows with age (as collectors of original comic strip art know).

Keiichi Tanaami
Keiichi Tanaami at Nanzuka

Keiichi Tanaami, 42nd street burned letter
Keiichi Tanaami, 42nd street_burned letter, late 60s, ink and photo paper collage on paper at Nanzuka

Obviously there are similarities in Tanaami's art to Yokoo Tadanori's work. And even though the work has a very mod sensibility, they seem ineffably Japanese. Very cool.

Erik Wysocan, (Tusen Och En Natt)
Erik Wysocan, (Tusen Och En Natt, 1958), 2011found copy of Tusen Och En Natt (A Thousand & One Nights) illustrated by Peter Weiss, found reproduction Sevres creamer, found Sevres plates, found postcard of Sevres factory workers, found postcard with image of the bust of Alexandre Brongniart, found etching with the image of Marat's memorial, acrylic, polarizing film, wood, paint at Laurel Gitlen

This dark vitrine by Erik Wysocan where each object is covered by its own silhouette is one of those things that can't even begun to be understood without reading the wall text. Even with the wall text, the meaning of this disparate group of objects is obscure. Sure looks cool, though.

 Untitled Ben Schumacher
Ben Schumacher, untitled, 2012, window screen, plaster, acrylic, wood at Croy Nielson

There is something almost fake looking about this big splatter of acrylic paint on a window screen by Ben Schumacher. This feeling is even more pronounced when you see it in person.

Untitled Ben Schumacher
Ben Schumacher, untitled, 2012, window screen, plaster, acrylic, wood at Croy Nielson

I took this closeup in order to convince myself that the ridges in this impasto were real and some kind of trompe-l'oeil. It just didn't look right. It's a very cool effect--I wonder if it's intentional. I also wonder if Schumacher is, like Roy Lichtenstein did, making fun of painterly abstractionists.

Ben Schumacher
Ben Schumacher, Vokno Translations, 2012 at Croy Nielson

Ara Peterson Intersecting Streams
Ara Peterson,  Intersecting Streams, acrylic paint on wood at Loyal

Ara Peterson had a bunch of amazing wall-reliefs up at Finnish gallery Loyal. I looked him up on Google, and what do you know--he works with ex-Fort Thunder dude Jim Drain. He and Drain recently collaborated on a giant installation at MOCA in LA that got lots of raves. His solo artwork is fantastic. It involves carved wood strips laid parallel so that the pattern of the carving is slightly shifted on each strip. I have to assume this is designed on computer before it is executed, but who knows? (Also, check out his website.)

Ara Peterson Intersecting Streams
Ara Peterson,  Intersecting Streams (detail), acrylic paint on wood at Loyal

Ara Peterson Forced Spiral One
Ara Peterson,  Forced Spiral One, 2012, acrylic paint on wood at Loyal

Ara Peterson Dot Procession
Ara Peterson,  Dot Procession, 2012, acrylic paint on wood at Loyal

 Marker A by Anissa Mack
Anissa Mack, Marker A, 2012, painted aquaresin at Laurel Gitlen

Anissa Mack's sculpture Marker A is a little hard to see--a black solid rectangle with the negative image of a face in it--it's like black on black, pure negation. Nothing of her work I've seen online seems quite so dark (literally and metaphorically).

I suppose I'm should make a general statement about the art I saw here and comment on the place of NADA in the art world. The art was not shown at its best in these cramped booths--but then again, the way they were displayed here probably more accurately reflects what the pieces might look like hanging in a collector's home, which is likely a no less cluttered visual environment than NADA was. The art here seemed on average somewhat more challenging and intellectual than the work at the other shows--it was less crowd-pleasing, providing less visual punch. That was refreshing, actually.

A complaint about art fairs is that they force too much visual stimulation down your throat at once. More subtle work gets overlooked in the cacophony. The format is not conducive for contemplation of the work. All these criticisms are true. And despite that, I loved visiting Frieze, Pulse and NADA. The festive, hyperactive atmosphere of the fairs was, well, exciting. I like visual over-stimulation sometimes, and if I'm going for over-stimulation, I'd rather do it at an art fair than at, say, a summer blockbuster movie. For all my criticisms, I thoroughly enjoyed myself at these three art fairs.



  1. The chair w/ book in Tomorrow's booth is Ben Schumacher and ElaineCameron-Wier. The large text with elephant foot is Egan Frantz.