Can’t Get Enough: The Other Art Fair presented by Saatchi Art in Greenpoint, Brooklyn

Open June 1- June 4, 2017

Commentary by Andrew Buck, Ed.D.

Behind every work of art there is a story, and who better to tell it than the artist? I mean that is one of the reasons to visit an Art Fair. Art Fairs are a particular type of art venue: they are short lived and bring together a smorgasbord of talent. For collectors and patrons, Art Fairs present lively opportunities to check out new and emerging talent in the visual art scene. Mature and emerging artists choose to present their work at Art Fairs to enhance their visibility in the art world and to be inspired by their colleagues (or competitors) in the field; consider it networking 101. Looked at from another lens however, The Other Art Fair is more than just an art event; it is a nexus for social connection across the community.  Greenpoint definitely has the artsy, hipster crowd going full-force. Present at the opening night of The Other Art Fair were parents with children, a large singles scene, gay and straight couples, patrons and collectors (old money and new), and folks who were just there to have fun and see what there was to see. The best part is that you can simply talk with the artists about their work.

My purpose in going to The Other Art Fair was straightforward: to help spread the word and to be inspired by artists whose work appealed to me. My strategy as an attendee was to ignore all the literature, and walk up and down each section twice. Initially, I was just getting a lay of the land. There was so much art, and all different. Over 100 artists are exhibiting their work at The Other Art Fair.  Because there were so many artists represented, I found it a little tricky to locate particular artists later in the evening. Suggestion: if you want to speak with an artist in-depth about their work or simply look more closely at their artwork later, look upward and make a note of the artist’s name and booth number which is posted high on the walls above their exhibit space.

Without further elaboration, I now present to you “Andrew Buck’s Pick Five” as my curatorial show case of The Other Fair. These artists are unique and distinctive in their aesthetic sensibilities and in the motivations which drive them to make work. However, I believe they share a love for the expressiveness of their art materials, a profound sense of relationship with the world around them, and a compelling sense of design and craftsmanship. It seems to me that they are also equally invested in a quest to communicate some of the beauty, richness, and complexity of being alive in today’s world.  I chose these particular artists simply because their work spoke to me. Your short list might look quite different.

Margaret Ann Withers https://www.margaretwithers.com

“Librarians whispered poems into the ice” 2017     SOLD

ink, watercolor, gouache on hand molded paper  

I was drawn to the tightness and intricacy/complexity of Margaret’s small oil paintings. Then there were larger and somewhat “looser” water based mixed media pieces that really caught my eye. I said to her “There is a lot going on here!” Margaret shared with me how different symbols or pictorial motifs shift or move across different series that she works on. She works on multiple series at the same time using different media so the motifs migrate and re-appear. This links and connects all of her work in her oeuvre. To me, the repetition of iconography in the different types of Margaret’s two-dimensional work is like the woven fabric of her mind and life (real and imaged).  Go check out her work and come back.

Michael Rich http://www.michael-rich.com

“Sweeping Blue” 2017

“Our Evergreen Season” 2016

When I first saw Michaels’ work I thought, “Wow. What energy. There was a presence and honesty to the work that said “I love painting, drawing, and printmaking. I love to work abstractly. I love the nature around me which inspires this work.” That is what the work said to me. I wasn’t surprised to learn that Michael was influenced by Providence, Rhode Island, the Cape Cod area, and had gone to art school. He is now the department chair and Professor of Art at Roger Williams University, Bristol, Rhode Island. To me, Michael is an artist with a big “A”. Great abstract work.

Christy Branson https://www.christybranson.com

Mauka (Toward the Mountain)

Lime Tree (Detail)

Couldn’t you just drool over encaustic?  We are talking about painting with wax; layers of wax and layers of color. Encaustic painting does two things at the same time. It creates a rich, tactile built-up surface full of texture giving the work a physical presence. The translucency of the wax allows light and color to interact and play with such softness and richness that it is indescribable. Christy could sense right away that I was drawn to the earthiness of her work. I wasn’t surprised to learn that she is from Spokane, Washington. I mean who wouldn’t make beautiful things if you were surrounded by national forests all the time and enjoyed lots and lots of open space. Her finished work is seductive and delicious. It’s kind of like having your cake and eating it too!

Marina Gluckman, Emerging Curator – 6BASE  http://www.6base.nyc

Painting by Keiran Brennan Hinton “Extending the Day” (detail) 2016 Oil on Canvas 48×96

Reference: https://www.keiranbrennanhinton.com

Marina is a smart young curator. She is not just smart, to me she seems very smart. On top of that, she is dedicated. She has created a small studio/exhibit space for young or emerging artist to work in (for free, short term) in the Bronx entitled “6BASE”.  Her presentation at The Other Fair includes a statement about the 6BASE exhibit “Taming Time” and featured the multi-panel large scale artwork of Keiran Brennan Hinton.

An excerpt of her curatorial statement is as follows:

“In contrast to the speed of time and expansion of space that the digital world has created in our society, a characteristic among these young artists is an attempt to slow things down and look close. Rather than sourcing images from a pre-constructed lens, they are looking inward, to domestic space, memories, personal experiences, and moments that aren’t quite tangible, yet are captured through the process of creating their works and the viewer’s act of observation.”

Marina’s project appears to be creating a space (or a nest) within which fledging artists with vision and purpose can materialize their work. Her initiative reminded of APEX art space in a way, though different.

Piotr Pardiak http://www.piotrpardiak.com

self-portrait – SOLD

Untitled

Note: Taken outside of the Tate Modern.

After taking time to look at his photographs, I found that this young man was from Poland and had gone to art school there.  His photos on exhibit were, quite simply, remarkable. The photographs were unframed and un-matted, hanging on the wall with stainless-steel clips. This brings you face to face with the velvety rich surface of his images whose “dark darks” resonate at the level of rich mezzotints. Drawing attention to the exemplary execution of his photos does not do justice to what they are about – each image represents a poetic moment. This guy has what I would call a poetic eye. I inquired about his techniques and wondered to what extent his images were constructed fabrications of Photoshop. The answer I got was “none” (well, for most of them on display anyway). The image and composition reflected more or less what he actually saw when he took the photo. When you see the photos on exhibit you will understand what I am talking about. He has an amazing eye and is just getting started. In looking at his and other’s photography, I was reminded of the close attention which photographers pay to shadow and light.

Hopefully, you will be inspired to visit The Other Art Fair tonight or this weekend. If you can’t make this one, perhaps the next time around will be a different story. For those of you who have stayed with me thus far, I thank you and would like to offer a prediction. There is one artist/photographer I have not talked about. Perhaps that story will come later. Her name is Cassandra Zampini. From my perspective, her work as a photographer falls between Diane Arbus and Henri Cartier-Bresson, yet she is neither. Cassandra seems to hold the most promise in attaining a distinguished spot in the landscape of contemporary photography down the road. Her story is waiting to be written. Her long-term journey as an image maker is waiting to unfold and develop.  To get a glimpse of her work and the stories behind it, check out http://www.cassandrazampini.com or better yet, come to The Other Art Fair, and find out for yourself first hand.

Acknowledgments:

Thank you to the artists/curators who granted consent for the use of their artwork, images, and/or text for this blog commentary.

Thank you also to Saatchi Art for presenting The Other Art Fair in Greenpoint |Brooklyn, New York,

June 1-4, 2017 at The Brooklyn Expo Center 72 Noble Street, Brooklyn, NY 11222.

http://www.theotherartfair.com