I’m rather disappointed to have missed what was, no doubt, the most intellectually and aesthetically stimulating several days Indianapolis has seen in a while. However, in an attempt to prove that what I was doing in absentia was even slightly worthwhile, I will give a brief report of my trip to NYC last week.
First up was the Armory Show, which brought quite a few folks to New York last week. Like many, I have a conflicted relationship with art fairs. I continue to go to them, although the experience is a manic exercise in ambivalence: one is alternately perturbed by crowds of art socialites, happy to run into people one knows (which causes one to worry whether one is posing as an art socialite), worried the art might be decent but that the context is spoiling it, and elated and relieved when encountering a few strong artworks that stand out from the huddled thousands on display. I came away with the impression that much of the art presented at the Armory was decorative and generally uninspiring, although there were a few notable exceptions. I’m a fan of David Shrigley’s work, and there were a few good pieces on display at Anton Kern’s booth, including a most clever projected animation entitled Lightswitch (2007). Ronald Feldman Fine Arts played host to a witty boutique-within-a-boutique with Christine Hill’s The Volksboutique Armory Apothecary, for which the artist worked from behind a counter to dispense personalized remedies to the sundry ailments of visitors. I also had the pleasure of seeing my friend and accomplished video artist Lida Abdul, whose work was on view at the booth of Giorgio Persano Gallery.
Of the handful of satellite fairs also going on, I made it to Pulse and Volta (whose names sound rather ridiculous next to one another) and enjoyed poking around the booths with my most esteemed colleagues Lisa Freiman and Allison Unruh.
Much less fussy than the Armory, these fairs can be a great way to see good art by emerging and mid-career artists in a setting much less likely to induce the mixed emotions described above. At Pulse, the Parsons MFA Fine Arts program put curator Eva Diaz to the task of organizing the smartest of mini-exhibitions, in which she elected to show all program artists instead of a juried few. Small-scale artworks were displayed thoughtfully in an artist-built structure alongside the books the students were reading at the moment.
A most entertaining curiosity cabinet-cum-reading room. What I value most about going to fairs and seeing such a high volume of art at once is how helpful it can be in expanding nascent exhibition ideas. Say I’m interested in doing a comprehensive group show about pencil drawing since the 1980s, then I can learn of Paul Chiappe‘s minute recreations of photographs through Madder 139 at Pulse and see excellent works on paper in The Drawing Center’s current exhibition Apparently Invisible by Michaela Frühwirth and Anne Lindberg.
On Thursday I met up with Danish artist Tue Greenfort, who lives in Berlin but is currently in residence in New York to work on a project for Creative Time. His work is currently on view at Peter Blum Gallery, and he and I are beginning to speak about the potential for a project in Indianapolis. Stay tuned for news of his visit to the IMA this Spring, which I am anticipating greatly. Lisa and I also had the pleasure of visiting Tara Donovan in her studio/home in Brooklyn (sorry no pictures! I got distracted and forgot), where we saw several stunning works on paper that are in development for an upcoming gallery show. We discussed with Tara an exhibition of her work here in Indianapolis in 2010 (hooray!) and spoke about all of the possibilities surrounding such a project.
Last, but not least, I visited the place that has been mentioned to me every time I talk to someone in New York about 100 Acres: The Virginia B. Fairbanks Art & Nature Park: SoHo’s restaurant Hundred Acres.
I mean, it’s delicious and all, but it’s just not as pretty—or as full of innovative art installations—as our developing project. And we come by our name fairly, legitimately covering 100 acres of woodlands, wetlands, meadows and a 35-acre lake, which I must admit I was happy to return to at the end of my trip.